Bat Tongues, A Marijuana Forest, And Other Amazing Images Of The Week

Plus adorable echidna puggles

Cays Mark The Spot

The Bahamas is home to more than 700 islands, islets, and cays. A NASA astronaut took this picture of a chain of cays just west of Great Exuma Island that helps astronauts recognize that area in the Atlantic Ocean. Though the cays are separated by deep tidal channels, the rest of the surrounding water is less than 25 meters deep.

Ultra-Exclusive Movie Screening

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) were treated to a private early screening of “The Martian” before its official U.S. release date of October 2. Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are currently aboard the ISS on a one-year mission to study the effects that living in space has on human health. Directed by Ridley Scott, “The Martian” stars Matt Damon in the role of an astronaut left behind after a mission to Mars.

Busy in the Dark

A tiny Lebbeus polaris shrimp perches on a blade of kelp in the Arctic Ocean. Scientists recently discovered that arctic marine life does not go quiescent during the long polar winter. Instead, zooplankton, scallops, crabs and other animals ate, reproduced and flourished through the cold months.


Part of NASA’s One Year mission is studying how the microbiome of a human changes in space, which could have big impacts on an astronaut’s health. Coincidentally, microbes and galaxies look pretty similar. Can you tell which image in each pair is a microbe and which is a galaxy?

A Plethora Of Puggles

This rolly-polly puggle is the result of a successful breeding program collaboration between the University of Queensland in Australia and the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Scientists have bred 14 short-beaked echidna, a relative of the platypus, over the last five years and are currently nurturing five new eggs. While the short-beaked echidna is still relatively common in Australia, its long-beaked relative is endangered.

The Better To Pollinate You With, My Dear

In a study published in Science this week, researchers found that two bumblebee species in the Rocky Mountains evolved shorter tongues in response to declines in flowering in local plants. Shorter tongues may allow the bumblebees to feed on more plants, as climate change and rising temperatures disrupt flowering in alpine habitats worldwide.

Secret London Marijuana Forest

Police in the London suburb of Kingston found a cannabis forest on September 25. Located in a private lot, some plants reached 5 feet tall, resembling Christmas trees. According to officer Sarah Henderson, the land was the size of a soccer field and was only reachable after “a 20 minute walk through wasteland”. The field will be destroyed by the police.

That’s So Maven

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission celebrated one year around Mars on Monday. The goal of the $671 million mission is to investigate the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere in hopes that it may hold clues about how Mars lost its liquid water and most of its once-thick atmosphere. Recreating Mars’s climate history might help scientists assess how habitable the planet is.

It’s All In The Tongue

Researchers have observed bats using a tongue-pumping technique to drink nectar, a strategy that has never been seen in mammals before. Most vertebrates drink by lapping their tongues, but orange-nectar bats slurp up 150 percent of their body weight each night while barely moving their tongues. Using high-speed cameras to watch orange-nectar bats (Lonchophylla robusta) suck nectar from test tubes, the scientists found that the bats use muscles in their grooved tongues to push nectar up to their mouths, similar to the movements our bowels make.

Volcano Vs. Man

An eruption at Iceland’s Bárðarbunga volcano last year emitted on average three times as much sulfur dioxide gas as all European industry combined, according to a new study from a team of European scientists. The eruption, which lasted for six months, was the biggest to strike Iceland in more than 200 years and produced enough lava to cover the size of Manhattan. Sulfur dioxide, which is produced by volcanoes and industrial processes like smelting, can cause acid rain and respiratory problems.