The Jigsaw Puzzle of Pangea: What It Tells Us About Our Fragile Human Lives

The Jigsaw Puzzle of Pangea: What It Tells Us About Our Fragile Human Lives

Around 200 million years ago the world's landmass was contained in one giant supercontinent called Pangea surrounded by a mega ocean. I know that this isn't news but I still find it startling and incredible nonetheless. In the graphic below you can see the composition of Pangea but with the modern countries boundaries superimposed on…

Six Quirky Facts About Red Pandas

Six Quirky Facts About Red Pandas

Red pandas are sweet looking, unobtrusive and stunning mammals that live in the mountainous forests in the Himalayas. With their lustrous and vibrant reddish brown fur and round sweet faces; they have the vague appearance of a fox rather than a Giant Panda. Here's more about a mysterious animal that my boyfriend and I fell…

Book Review: Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini https://wp.me/p41CQf-HI

Book Review: Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini

A surreal art book that redefines the meaning of imagination. Codex Seraphinianus has a lot in common with other bizarre books like the Voynich manuscript. This new edition by Italian publisher Rizzoli was republished in 2013. It has been redesigned by the author Luigi Serafini with includes new illustrations. The fascination and curiosity for Codex…

Welcome to a strange and forgotten alien world: Socotra

Welcome to a strange and forgotten alien world: Socotra

Looking like a cross between a surreal computer game and an alien planet, Socotra is a relatively unexplored and remote island off the coast of Arabian Peninsula. It's a sparkling diamond of natural diversity and rugged wildness, with over 700 endemic species of flora and fauna. Only a small number of countries have more endemic…

Roland: Gargantuan Elephant Seal From Berlin

Roland: Gargantuan Elephant Seal Of Berlin Zoo

Roland was a goliath 4,000 pound sea elephant (A.K.A an Elephant Seal Mirunga patagonica. He lived in Berlin Zoo from the late 1920's until his death during the second world war. Here he is getting a snow bath from his handler at the Berlin Zoo (date unknown) In this film you can see his large…

A placid and beautiful Highland Cow, found roaming on the Isle of Skye. Copyright Content Catnip 2010.

Travel: A History of the Beautiful Highland Cow

Highland Cows or as they are commonly known in Scotland Highland Coos are an ancient breed known to have grazed the rugged Scottish landscape since the sixth century. Their genetic origins are still up for debate. They may be native to Scotland or introduced by the Vikings to Great Britain. One scientific train of thought…

Kea - Birds, Mana and Maori Culture

Birds, Mana and Maori Culture

Maori tribes have long held beliefs and customs about the native birds of Aotearoa New Zealand. Birds or Nga Manu had a vital place in Maori tribal life as they provided food, beautiful feathers for adornment and their strengths and personalities were a rich source of metaphor and poetry. Their behaviour was use to predict…

All About Maori Kite Making

All About Maori Kite Making

There are 17 types of Maori kites. Traditionally made from strong timber framing like manuka wood they were woven with flax and the paper and bark of the mulberry plant until the plant went virtually extinct. Birdman kites have a powerful symbolism for Maori tribes. One such taonga was gifted to the British Museum in…

Tui - Birds, Mana and Maori Culture

The ultimate guide to collective nouns for New Zealand birds

This post is for all of the New Zealand and global bird-lovers out there. New Zealand has some wonderful and incredibly intelligent birds that also tend to have rambuctious, mischievous and cheeky personalities. Check out this video of a kea being, well... a kea if you don't believe me... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxoCuRuHlt8 Here are some little known…

"How long does it take to make the woods? As long as it takes to make the world. It is always finished, it is always being made, the act of its making forever greater than the act of its destruction." (Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir, 1999)

Exquisite Marine Invertebrates of the 19th Century http://wp.me/p41CQf-rWG

Exquisite Marine Invertebrates of the 19th Century

In this blog in previous years, I've talked about how humans and cephalopods are oddly similar, explored the underwater realm of Sydney Harbour in great detail, and the invisible realm of microscopic creatures rendered by Ernest Haeckel. But in terms of delicate creatures, the Blaschkas were the 19th Century heavy-weights. I originally posted this post…

The Strandbeest and it's glittering seaside evolution

The Strandbeest and its glittering seaside evolution

Theo Jansen’s strandbeests are composed of spindly plastic organs that take elephantine strides. They have guts that store energy and are powered by wind. They are sensitive mechanical beasts that can even detect water. Each of Jansen's ingenious strandbeests are miracles in motion. They may very well be the next stages of natural selection.  Jansen…

Hibernal From Latin hībernālis (“wintry”), from hiems (“winter”), hibernal is term for something that refers to winter. On this, the long, long night of Winter Solistice of the southern hemisphere, the dawns and the gloamings grow ever deeper and more thickly velveteen black. Although this point in time marks the darkest, longest night and from this kernel grows the essence of…

Japan’s 72 gossamer-light and poetic microseasons

The traditional seasons in Japan are marked out by impercetibly small changes in nature across 72 miniature seasons in a year, each lasting 5 days and reflecting the fleeting, impermanent and diaphanous beauty of nature and all of its wonders. There are 24 divisions or sekki in the calendar that are split into 72 kō…

How slow-growing lichen opens up the vast universe

How slow-growing lichen opens up the vast universe

The Lichenologist from Matthew Killip on Vimeo. Hidden within this remarkable short film The Lichenologist is the slowly-growing story of the unassuming and vividly beautiful botanical wonder of lichen. Kerry Knudsen has the auspicious title of  Curator of Lichens at the University of California. He dispels common misconception between lichens and mosses. The latter being…

How animals would look in Minecraft

How animals would look in Minecraft

One clever coconut named Aditya has taken images from Unsplash and pixabay and created blocky, cube-shaped animals in novel art form known as Anicube. She created the images in Photoshop using the Liquify (Shift+Command+X) keys and then uploaded them to instagram. The comical and surreal results won her a lot of fans. See more of her…

Sky-level beauty: Hawaii from above

Hawaii’s volcanic spectacle and Pele the Fire Goddess

This sky-level satellite image above shows how most of Puna is covered in a lush green canopy, with some visible lava flows in the District of Puna. Puna is one of the smaller islands in the American states of Hawaii. At around 1,300km2 Puna is slightly smaller than the island of Kaua.  It's subtropical climate and…

Book Review: 'Industrial Scars' The Beautiful Toxic Scars of the Earth

Book Review: ‘Industrial Scars’ The Beautiful Toxic Scars of the Earth

What happens when humans burn too much waste and destroy the planet? Modern Art. Photographs of the aftermath of environmental devastation aren't normally considered art. However photographer J Henry Fair has reimagined the decaying and suffering environmental landscape in the aftermath of human abuse in his mesmerising book entitled Industrial Scars. Fair wanted to poignantly…

Film Review: Voyage of Time: Life's Journey (2016) Terrence Malick

Film Review: Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey (2016) Terrence Malick

The other night Terrence Malick's new film Voyage of Time: Life's Journey screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival Autumn events in Auckland. Although I've found Malick's films a little too long and ponderous, this one I enjoyed more than his others because of its sparseness and its lack of human narrative and human characters.…

How you can help save the Critically Endangered Orangutans of Borneo

How you can help save the Orangutans of Borneo

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates the number of orangutans living in Borneo dropped by 60 percent between 1950 and 2010 alone. This is because of the extensive land clearings that have taken place over the past 4 decades in Indonesia. Between 1989 and 2000 the area covered by oil palms in…