What you’re looking at the photo is a flowering plant that parasitizes roots of trees. It is scientifically named Balanophora fungosa (Santalales - Balanophoraceae), and is entirely lacking in green pigments.
Balanophora fungosa obtains water and nutrients from the host plant it is attached to. It has an inconspicuous flowering stem that merges from its underground tuber. It has colored scale leaves and tiny flowers.
Each flowering stalk of Balanophora fungosa bears thousands of female flowers (the top portion) and a much smaller number of male flowers near the base of the flowering stalk.
This species inhabits coastal forests in Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan (Ryukyu Islands), New Guinea, Philippines, Australia, and Pacific Islands.
Photo credit: ©Jeremy Holden
Locality: Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia
Like A Falling Apple
Formulated in 1687, Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation was a turning point in physics. While the legend of the apple falling on his head is an exaggeration of the truth, Newton did have a brilliant insight: that every object in the universe attracts every other object. The force of attraction between two objects depends on only two things: the mass of the objects, and the distance between them. So, more massive objects exert a stronger force, while more distant objects exert a weaker force. Newton was able to formulate a simple equation to describe this, pictured above: force is equal to Newton’s gravitational constant, multiplied by masses of the objects, then divided by the square of the distance between the objects. What’s remarkable is that the law truly is universal—not only can it predict how things move here on Earth, but it can also predict the movements of the moon, planets, stars and even galaxies millions of lightyears away. Newton believed that the movement of every object in our universe could be predicted, but we know now that while his theory generally holds true, it is not precise. Einstein’s theory of general relativity had to step in to fill the holes.
(Image Credit: The Wonders Collection)
Ray Bandar is one of those hardcore old school bone collectors that I idolize. He learned how to process dead animals he found (starting in his 20s) through trial and error… similar to my own background. Turning them into beautiful finished specimens to display in his collection. Sharing similar stories of “that time when he stunk up the kitchen” and “the bones that were cleaned wrong” and “I’m sitting on his neck, cutting away, trying to sever the skull from the torso, I turn around, and standing on the beach is three cops.” Haha! Plus passionately learning about different animal species as part of the whole process. I can respect that, I’m living that life too. I’d love to meet Ray in person and swap stories.
He has spent 60 years building up his collection of 7,000 skulls stacked floor to ceiling, including those of sea lions, cheetahs, jaguars, horses, zebras and other animals in his basement (pictured). Note that he has a scientific collection permit which legally allows him to collect and process many animal species that most of us can not. I especially envy him for that. Many of his skulls are now on view at the California Academy of Sciences, in San Francisco! Which is so absolutely fantastic as they will also be studied by scientists for decades to come. I wish I was closer so I could go myself. More - http://www.npr.org/2014/06/10/318891562/a-bone-collectors-basement-of-animal-skulls-sees-the-light More - http://www.calacademy.org/academy/exhibits/skulls/
One of the first tasks upon returning home: unpack the impala skull I bought midway through the trip at the skulls unlimited store…
Next step: figure out how to best display it.