Xavi Bou

If Birds Left Tracks in the Sky, They’d Look Like This

National Geographic: If birds left tracks in the sky, what would they look like? For years Barcelona-based photographer Xavi Bou has been fascinated by this question.

Ultimately he chose to work with a video camera, from which he extracts high-resolution photographs. After he films the birds in motion, Bou selects a section of the footage and layers the individual frames into one image.

This current work, he says, combines his passion and his profession. “It’s technical, challenging, artistic, and natural. It’s the connection between photography and nature that I was looking for.”

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Humans and other animals

Ornitografías: If birds left tracks in the sky…

Photographer Xavi Bou captures the paths that birds make across the sky.

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Cristian Lascu (left)

BBC Earth: Movile Cave has been cut off for millions of years. Its air is thick with harmful gases, yet it is home to an array of strange animals.

Despite a complete absence of light and a poisonous atmosphere, the cave is crawling with life. There are unique spiders, scorpions, woodlice and centipedes, many never before seen by humans, and all of them owe their lives to a strange floating mat of bacteria.

Strangely, the worse the air gets the more animals there are. It’s not at all obvious why that should be, or how the animals survive at all.

Without any signs of water reaching the deep cave from the surface, it is unclear how the animals in the cave survives. Tests have shown that the water flowing in does not contain any food particles. Instead, the food comes from the strange frothy foam sitting on top of the water. This floating film, which looks like wet tissue paper and can even be torn like paper, contains millions upon millions of bacteria known as “autotrophs”.

In 1996, researchers categorised the animals in the cave. They included 3 species of spider, a centipede, 4 species of isopod (the group that includes woodlice), a leech never seen anywhere else in the world, and an unusual-looking insect called a waterscorpion.

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Humans and other animals

Movile Cave: The unique life isolated deep underground for 5.5 million years

“Almost 30 years after its discovery, Movile Cave remains perhaps the most isolated ecosystem on the planet. It surely has many more secrets to give up. There are plenty more organisms buried in the cave’s sediments, waiting to be identified, and they could help us understand some of our deepest questions about the nature of life.” — BBC Earth

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Pigeons are gross. They’re also wildly underrated.

Vox: Sure, there are bad things about these birds (like the way they deface statues of our own species’ great leaders). But over the centuries, their unique abilities to be trained and to find their way home have been used in interesting and surprising ways (that almost make up for their constant cooing).

Pigeons

Slow Life, by Daniel Stoupin

The most important living organisms that play the key functions in the biosphere might not seem exciting when it comes to motion. Plants, fungi, sponges, corals, plankton, and microorganisms make life on Earth possible and do all the hard biochemical job. Similarly to all living things, they are dynamic, mobile, and fundamentally have the same motion properties as us. They grow, reproduce, spread, move towards source of energy, and away from unfavorable conditions. However, their speeds happen to be out of sync with our narrow perception. Our brains are wired to comprehend and follow fast and dynamic events better, especially those very few that happen at speeds comparable to ours. In a world of blazingly fast predators and escaping prey events where it takes minutes, hours, or days to notice any changes are harder to grasp.

“Slow” marine life is particularly mysterious. As colorful, bizarre-looking, and environmentally important as we know corals and sponges are, their simple day-to-day life is hidden. We know some bits about their biochemistry, corals’ interaction with zooxanthella algae, their life cycles, and systematics. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell what we don’t know about the rest, and particularly when it comes to interaction with other organisms happening over long periods of time.

Time lapse cinematography reveals a whole different world full of hypnotic motion and my idea was to make coral reef life more spectacular and thus closer to our awareness. I had a bigger picture in my mind for my clip. But after many months of processing hundreds of thousands of photos and trying to capture various elements of coral and sponge behavior I realized that I have to take it one step at a time. For now, the clip just focuses on beauty of microscopic reef “landscapes.” The close-up patterns and colors of this type of fauna hardly resemble anything from the terrestrial environments. Corals become even less familiar if you consider their daily “activities.” — Daniel Stoupin

(via Mental Floss)

See also: Wellcome Image Awards 2015: The art behind the science of life, death, sex, and disease and other posts tagged photography.

Humans and other animals

Timelapse: The “slow life” of a coral reef, sped up

“Slow” marine animals show their secret life under high magnification. Corals and sponges build coral reefs and play crucial roles in the biosphere, yet we know almost nothing about their daily lives. These animals are actually very mobile creatures, however their motion is only detectable at different time scales compared to ours and requires time lapses to be seen.

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