South America

A Trip of a lifetime! In South America – 2012

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This is brilliant.

Wellcome Trust Blog

Ever played with plasticene as a child? If your answer is yes, then maybe you could help us.

Last year, we started a new tradition – to make festive trees adorned with decorations inspired by science rather than the usual baubles. We want to make a new tree for 2012. Back by popular demand, we’re sending out more packs of colourful modelling materials and threads so you can fashion your very own decorations to hang on your tree at home.

This year our theme is a bit different. We want to find out what science has inspired you over the past 12 months. Ideas may strike from your research, to what you’ve read in books or science stories in the media over the past year.

We have 40 packs available on a first-come-first serve basis. Contact Rachel Mason on r.mason@wellcome.ac.uk to get yours. Kits allow you to make around five…

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Bush Walk

I am still recovering from jet lag, so this is just a photo blog. See if any of the birds are familiar. Welgevonden was indeed well-found, an excellent place to unwind. I have a couple of new paintings to finish…(also a lucky commission for some horse paintings, which I haven’t done much of before.)

We took a leisurely two-hour walk, visiting the rock art and listening to our guides’ descriptions of some of the smaller creatures we came across. The rock paintings were wonderful. Unfortunately they have been damaged by vandals. With that, and the ongoing erosion, we were indeed fortunate to have seen them.

The last shot of a little insect is intriguing. I haven’t seen one like this before: a tiny armed vehicle scuttling over the rocks. I upended it, just to count its legs. It lay there, a nonchalant sunbather. Then slowly, with immense anthropomorphic dignity, it continued its important quest of finding the meaning of life. Maybe someone could relieve my ignorance. (ha: edit: looking for the Afrikaans for a “Namib desert beetle”, I spotted a picture of the one above. Just a firefly larvae: Coleoptera Lampyridae? )

From Welgevonden’s Website (visit it for more information, I added links via Wikipedia):

“The mountains of the Waterberg are steeped in history with many rock art and geological sites. Its history dates back to the Stone Age and features significantly in the country’s cultural and sociopolitical development. Towns in the area are home to different clans of the Bapedi, Tswana and Basotho tribes as well as descendants of the Voortrekkers.

The Waterberg, as we know it today is more than 3 million years old. Archaeological finds and San paintings are just glimpses of lives that have been played out in the region. Stone Age implements, fashioned by Homo erectus, have been found along the Lapalala river basin, the earliest evidence of humans. The people of the Stone Age, the San (Bushman) who were indigenous hunter/gatherers, were displaced within the last two thousand years when the first Iron Age people moved into the area.”

“The red beds of shale and sandstone, so characteristic of the Waterberg, were laid down by continental deposition around 1.8 billion years ago, and are very early evidence of an oxygenated atmosphere around our planet. The Waterberg Massifhas an abundance of iron and manganese that gives the sedimentary rocks their distinctive red, orange and purple hues, which glow in the setting sun.Approximately 6 000 square kilometres of the Waterberg has been turned into a conservation area with elephants, white rhino, leopard and buffalo as local residents. There are over 300 – a bird watchers paradise – a bird watchers paradise.The magnificent diversity of the Waterberg is evident both in the natural environment which incorporates a range of habitats and in the facilities and attraction available. The region boasts and abundance of wildlife – including the Big Five – and many ecotourism adventure opportunities in the area since 250 years ago, but it is unlikely that high human population densities were ever achieved. The first white travellers arrived in 1808, and settled farms were established from around 1845. Since then, however both cattle farming and agriculture have become sub-economic, and although a few specialized farming enterprises remain based on exceptionally good management and permanent water, conventional farming has largely been replaced by hunting and wildlife tourism.Three rivers transect the reserve, meandering quietly through densely wooded areas on their way to the mighty Limpopo river, where Lion and Elephant now roam freely after almost a century. Rock art sites dating as far back as 2000 years can be found in Welgevonden and the greater Waterberg area.The attractive terrain is in the rusty-red foothills of the Waterberg, whose pleats and folds are thickly layered with bush willow. Narrow valleys of golden rocks course with streams and a variety of fauna including succulents like Euphorbia candelabra…” (link via ARKive)