The Earth Is Beautiful, Mysterious, Fascinating, And Full Of Nightmare Fuel

Don't believe me? Check out the top 10 newly discovered species of 2012.


Every year, Arizona State University releases the list of top 10 newly discovered species for the year. It's always an interesting one, highlighting the biodiversity of our planet and the astonishing number of really weird animals that exist in nature.

Sneezing Monkey: It's the first snub-nosed monkey to be found in Myanmar, and it is believed to be critically endangered. Also, it sneezes when it rains. No, seriously:


Bonaire Banded Box Jelly: A new species of box jelly discovered off the coast of the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. Its scientific name is Tamoya ohboya — yeah, like "oh boy!" It's really pretty, for a gelatinous instrument of torture:


Devil’s Worm: Presumably named because it basically lives in hell, discovered 8/10 of a mile underground in a South African gold mine. I wasn't kidding about the hell thing — that far underground, the temperature is about 98 degrees Farenheit. Carbon dating has indicated that the borehole water where they were found hasn’t been in contact with the Earth’s atmosphere for the past 4,000-6,000 years.

(Photo credit: G. Borgonie, Ghent University, Belgium; Scanning electron microscope (SEM) image, face view of H. mephisto)

Night-Blooming Orchid: This orchid is the first night-blooming orchid ever found, among the 25,000 or so species of orchids. Its flowers open up at 10 p.m. at night and then close up early the next morning. It was discovered in Papua New Guinea.

(Photo credit left: Jaap Vermeulen; right: Andre Schuiteman)

Parasitic Wasp: You know how the headline says "nightmare fuel"? This tiny wasp was discovered in Madrid, Spain, and it dive-bombs ants to lay its eggs on them. This happens in 1/20 of a second. And then probably some kind of "Aliens" thing goes on with the ant — really, I don't want to know.


Spongebob Squarepants Mushroom: Yes, you read that correctly. This organism is a new species of fungus that looks like a sea sponge. It’s fruiting body can be squeezed and return to its original shape just like a sponge, and apparently it smells like fruit -- pineapple under the sea, of course. It was discovered on the island of Borneo.

(Photo credit: Thomas Bruns, interior (left) and exterior (right) views of Spongiforma squarepantsii; center: Dennis E. Desjardin & Andrew Ichimura, SEM photograph of spores of Spongiforma squarepantsii)

Nepalese Autumn Poppy: Meconopsis autumnalis is a yellow poppy that grows high in the mountains of Nepal, at heights of 10,827 to 13,780 feet. It flowers in late autumn, and has actually been collected twice before (once in 1962 and once in 1994) and not recognized as new. Whoops.

(Photo credit: Paul Egan, Meconopsis autumnalis flowering in the wild at 4000 m, Nepal Himalaya)

Giant Millipede: This millipede is the size of a sausage. That is horrifying (and, let's be real, pretty impressive). Now holding the record for the largest millipede in the world, it grows up to 16 cm long. It was discovered in Tanzania’s Eastern Arc Mountains.

(Photo credit: G. Brovad)

Walking Cactus: Now extinct, this organism belonged to a group of legged worm-like animals called Lobopodia. The fossil was discovered in deposits dating back to the Cambrian period 520 million years ago. It's a significant find, as it has segmented legs, lending weight to the theory that arthropods (the largest group of living animals) descended from lobopods.

(Photo credit: Jianni Liu “Walking Cactus from Early Cambrian, China”)

Sazima’s Tarantula: Pterinopelma sazimai is an iridescent, hairy blue tarantula. It was discovered in Brazil, and is the first species from Brazil to make the top 10 (cool!) though it isn't the first or only blue tarantula. Its status as endangered is due both to habitat loss and over-collecting for the pet trade. I'm assuming that at least a quarter of that pet trade is specific to RPGs, because seriously, what kind of mage worth her +20 stealth doesn't own a sapphire tarantula?

(Photo credit left: Caroline Fukushima; center and right: Rogerio Bertani/Instituto Butantan)
Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture