Misc Musings Planet Earth

The Smouldering Ghost Town of Centralia

centralia-45Founded in 1862 the mining town of Centralia in Pennsylvania was created due to the demand for coal as a primary fuel source, throughout the 19th and 20th Century a mass web of mines, tunnels and underground gangways were constructed to get at the coal resources deep under ground. It is estimated that 95% of Anthracite coal (a very high energy form of coal) is located underneath Pennsylvania and there was an estimated 25 million tons of it under the town of Centralia.

However during the mid 20th century the demand for coal reduced in favour of other fuels such as gas and oil and the vast web of mines underneath the town of Centralia were eventually abandoned.

On the 27th May 1962 the mine shafts under Centralia caught fire, it is still debated how the fire initially caught ablaze but the main assumption is that a fire was purposely ignited in an attempt to clear up a rubbish tip, beneath this rubbish tip was a hidden mineshaft entrance where the fire began to slowly wind its way through the labyrinth of underground mines beneath the town.

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Animals

The Real Winners of the Falklands War, Were the Penguins

cute-penguin-34

The 19th Century was a popular time for the whaling industry, particularly on the Falklands Islands. Whalers needed fuel in order to render whale blubber into whale oil, which would then be sold. But a lack of trees in the area meant that using wood to keep a fire going would not be not a sustainable option. However, there was another plentiful resource that made a suitable fuel; penguins.

This is an unfortunate truth. Penguins have highly flammable fat under their skin and they are quite docile in nature, making them easy to catch. Whalers burned them by the thousands, and the population of penguins in the Falklands Islands plummeted until there was a devastating change to their environment in the 1980’s; the Falklands War.

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Animals

There is a Centipede in South America that Eats Bats

Megarian-Banded-Centipede-Scolopendra-cingulataWhat is the difference between a Centipede and a Millipede? Not just the number of legs as the name might suggest. There are many differences between the two, the main one being that Millipedes are scavengers and feed primarily on decaying organic matter and also eat the roots and leaves of plants, however Centipedes are a predator.

Centipedes come equipped with modified front legs, which are loaded with a deadly venom that they can use to hunt and kill small creatures, most common centipedes (like the ones you might find in your garden) use this venom to hunt small insects and arachnids. However, there is a type of centipede in South America called Scolopendra gigantea or as it is more commonly known; the Amazonian Giant Centipede, which is the largest of all centipedes, known to grow to up to 35cm long (the length of a man’s arm!). These terrifying creatures are known to thrive in dark caves and feast on lizards, frogs, mice, snakes and even birds and bats.

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Animals Food

The Greenland Shark is so Slow it Can Only Eat Something if it is Asleep, Dead or Wanders into its Mouth

6376473_origOne of the most peculiar animals I have come across is the rare Greenland Shark, these massive creatures can grow up to 24 feet long and live in the cold Arctic waters around Greenland, Iceland and Canada where temperatures can be as low as -1°C.  To preserve their energy in these cold waters they swim very slowly at less than 1 mile an hour, exerting their energy they can achieve a burst of speed that reaches 1.7 miles per hour but as their main prey, the Seal, can swim at speeds of around 6 mph, this doesn’t do the shark much good!

Due to the slow swimming speed of the shark, trying to grab a meal is quite an issue, researchers have learned that they are most likely ambush predators, waiting until their prey is asleep (usually Seals in the water) and then slowly approaching. They have also been found to be scavengers and eat carrion (dead and decaying flesh of animals) and they are not picky eaters either. Researchers have found many different and unusual animals in the stomachs of Greenland Sharks including polar bears, horses, moose and even an entire reindeer!

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