The good news is that giant beavers didn’t eat meat. The bad news is, well, if you have a phobia of beavers, you have to live with the knowledge that there used to be GIANT BEAVERS.
“The extinct giant beaver, Castoroides ohioensis, was just one species of large animals, or megafauna, stalking the North American landscape near the end of the last ice age. Fossils indicate that the creature was about twice the size of its modern-day cousin and therefore weighed between 60 and 100 kilograms, says Catherine Yansa, a paleoecologist at Michigan State University in East Lansing.”
"More than 119 known caves lie beneath the ground at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southeastern New Mexico. These underground caves pre-date the area’s surface features. Between four and six million years ago, sulfide-rich water seeped through the ground to form fractures and folds in the limestone. Carlsbad Caverns contains the largest underground chamber in the United States. Almost 400,000 Mexican free-tail bats call the caverns home in summer. Each evening, clouds of the flying mammals emerge from the cave in search of food. Their swarming exit flight can last from 20 minutes to two hours, a dramatic spectacle indeed.” (via 12 Iconic New Mexico Landmarks that Will Take Your Breath Away)
"The great sandstone promontory of El Morro provided shade and a welcome waterhole to the Spaniards, Puebloans and settlers who traveled the main east-west trail across the desert. The travelers left evidence of their passing by carving their names and dates in the rock. The Zuni call it “A’ts’ina”, or place of writings on the rock. Over 2,000 petroglyphs, signatures, dates and messages can be found on the “Inscription Rock” today. El Morro can be found south of Grants, New Mexico.” (via 12 Iconic New Mexico Landmarks that Will Take Your Breath Away)
"The glistening white sands in New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin near Alamogordo are one of the world’s natural wonders. The largest gypsum sand dune in the world, White Sands encompasses about 275 total square miles, 115 of which are part of the White Sands National Monument. The dunes are always changing, driven by the strong winds, and while the more stable sands move very little, some of the more active dunes move at a rate of about 30 feet per year.” (via 12 Iconic New Mexico Landmarks that Will Take Your Breath Away)
Sometimes known as the blind cave beetle, Leptodirus hochenwartii is a species of troglobitic round fungus beetle (Leiodidae) that is endemic to caves in the western Dinaric Alps. Like other troglobites L. hochenwartii is highly adapted for life underground, as it has elongated legs and antennae, reduced eyes, and an absence of pigment. Due to its isolated environment much of the ecology of L. hochenwartii is unknown, however several individuals have been seen feeding on carcasses.
"Known for their distinctive reddish color, the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico draw visitors for their camping, hiking, fishing and recreational opportunities. Numerous hot springs and pools bubble up throughout the cliffs. Some are safe and large enough for bathing. A waterfall at Soda Dam spectacularly drops 15 feet into the Jemez River below.” (via 12 Iconic New Mexico Landmarks that Will Take Your Breath Away)
Part of the Allende meteorite, from which nanodiamonds aka StarStuff were derived by Curator of Meteoritics Philipp Heck. This is the largest meteorite of its kind to ever land on earth. The specks and dots are calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions, and are the oldest known matter formed in our Solar System.
EDIT: Just to reiterate, we know how old the Solar System is because of this meteorite.
An island with a hole in it
In March of 1954 this island exploded. This is Bikini Atoll, site of many American nuclear weapons tests in the middle of the 20th century.
The crater you see on this image from the Operational Land Imager on NASA’s Landsat 8 spacecraft was produced during a test of a new American thermonuclear weapon design.
The bomb was expected to explode with a force of 4-6 megatons, but instead, it wound up releasing energy equivalent to 15 megatons of TNT, making it one of the most powerful nuclear tests ever conducted.
The explosion was so large that it destroyed much of the equipment set up to monitor it and also scattered radioactive material over a huge area. Although the population of Bikini Atoll had been evacuated years beforehand, so much material was thrown up that inhabitants of other nearby islands were given large doses of radiation; those residents weren’t evacuated until several days afterwards when they began showing symptoms of radiation poisoning. A Japanese fishing boat was also in the area and the crew did not realize that the light they saw in the distance was a nuclear explosion; one crewman reportedly died due to exposure.
The test prompted protests worldwide due to the exposure of so many to radiation; eventually those protests helped lead to the ending of atmospheric nuclear testing. To this day it is unclear why the Americans miscalculated so badly on the test’s expected energy; whatever the cause was, it remains classified.
Portions of the population of Bikini Atoll attempted to return several decades after the tests but it was found that soils on the island remained contaminated and it was not safe to eat foods grown from those soils. To this day, this series of islands remains largely uninhabited.
Exxon CEO: Don’t frack in my backyard
The CEO of ExxonMobil – the top producer of natural gas in the US – has joined a lawsuit that challenges the construction of a water tower connected to hydraulic fracturing operations near his Texas home, given that it may reduce the property value.
CEO Rex Tillerson and other plaintiffs claim the hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – project will cause unwanted noise and traffic associated with trucking water from the 160-foot tower to the drilling site, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The tower will provide water “to oil and gas explorers for fracing [sic] shale formations leading to traffic with heavy trucks on FM 407, creating a noise nuisance and traffic hazards,” according to the lawsuit. The water tower is owned by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation.