Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

This Ancient Crocodilian Egg Looks Like a Geode

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

At first glance, this round object looks like an everyday geode that you might see being sold in a gift shop. In reality, the object is an ancient crocodilian egg that never got the chance to hatch. Inside its hard shell, shimmering white crystals have formed and lined the inside of the egg. 

The 45 million-year-old egg underwent a process called biocrystallization, in which organic macromolecules of living organisms start to form crystals, usually as a result of stress or other outside factors. It happens to humans too: Anyone who's ever had a kidney stone has experienced lithiasis, which is a form of biocrystallization.

This particular crocodilian egg is from the Eocene epoch. It, as well as other similar specimens, were discovered in Wyoming's Bridger Formation in the 1930s. Fossils and sediments found in the area suggest that the environment was quite a bit different back when the egg was laid. What is now the site of ski towns and ranches was a balmy paradise filled with crocodilians; the region even had palm trees. Eggs and other remains from the time became encased in basin sediment (formed from eroding mountains and volcanic ash) and were occasionally preserved as fossils.

There is no evidence of embryonic remains, but scientists believe it's a crocodilian egg thanks to microscopic analysis. The shape and size of the shell are similar to those of Crocodylus johnstoni and Crocodylus porosus (fresh and saltwater crocodiles, respectively). The beautiful crystallized egg is currently housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. 

[h/t Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History on Facebook]

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Martin Wittfooth
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig
Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images
How a Pregnant Rhino Named Victoria Could Save an Entire Subspecies
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images

The last male northern white rhino died at a conservancy in Kenya earlier this year, prompting fears that the subspecies was finally done for after decades of heavy poaching. Scientists say there's still hope, though, and they're banking on a pregnant rhino named Victoria at the San Diego Zoo, according to the Associated Press.

Victoria is actually a southern white rhino, but the two subspecies are related. Only two northern white rhinos survive, but neither of the females in Kenya are able to reproduce. Victoria was successfully impregnated through artificial insemination, and if she successfully carries her calf to term in 16 to 18 months, scientists say she might be able to serve as a surrogate mother and propagate the northern white rhino species.

But how would that work if no male northern rhinos survive? As the AP explains, scientists are working to recreate northern white rhino embryos using genetic technology. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has the frozen cell lines of 12 different northern white rhinos, which can be transformed into stem cells—and ultimately, sperm and eggs. The sperm of the last northern white male rhino, Sudan, was also saved before he died.

Scientists have been monitoring six female southern white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo to see if any emerge as likely candidates for surrogacy. However, it's not easy to artificially inseminate a rhino, and there have been few successful births in the past. There's still a fighting chance, though, and scientists ultimately hope they'll be able to build up a herd of five to 15 northern white rhinos over the next few decades.

[h/t Time Magazine]


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