John James Audubon

French American Ornithologist, Naturalist, Hunter and painter John James Audubon (Jean-Jacques Audubon sadly passed away January 27, 1851. Born in Les Cayes in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) he is famous for having painted, catalogued, and described the birds of North America in a manner far superior to any before him. From his earliest days, Audubon had an affinity for birds and His father encouraged this interest in nature. Once in America Audubon went to a boarding house run by Quaker women. They taught him English, and He traveled with the family’s Quaker lawyer to

the Audubon family farm in what he considered a paradise. “Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment, Studying his surroundings, Audubon quickly learned the ornithologist’s rule, which he wrote, “The nature of the place—whether high or low, moist or dry, whether sloping north or south, or bearing tall trees or low shrubs—generally gives hint as to its inhabitants.”His father hoped that the lead mines on the property could be commercially developed, as lead was an essential component of bullets. This could provide his son with a profitable occupation. Audubon met his neighbor William Bakewell, the owner of the nearby estate, whose daughter Lucy he married five years later. The two young people shared many common interests, and early on began to spend time together, exploring the natural world around them.

Audubon then set about studying American birds with the goal of illustrating his findings in a more realistic manner than most artists did then. He began conducting the first known bird-banding on the continent: he tied yarn to the legs of Eastern Phoebes and determined that they returned to the same nesting spots year after year. He also began drawing and painting birds, and recording their behaviour Audubon continued his bird studies and created his own nature museum, perhaps inspired by Charles Willson Peale, whose bird exhibits were considered scientifically advanced. Audubon’s room was brimming with birds’ eggs, stuffed raccoons and opossums, fish, snakes, and other creatures. He had become proficient at specimen preparation and taxidermy.With his father’s approval, Audubon sold part of his farm, including the house and mine, as they deemed the mining venture too risky. He retained some land for investment, then went to New York to learn the import-export trade, hoping to find a business to support his marriage to Lucy.

On October 12, 1820, Audubon went to Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida in search of ornithological specimens with George Lehman, a professional Swiss landscape artist. The following summer, he moved to the Oakley Plantation in the Felicianas, where he taught drawing. After a short stay in Cincinnati to work as a naturalist and taxidermist at a museum, Audubon traveled south on the Mississippi. By this time He was committed to find and paint all the birds of North America for eventual publication. His goal was to surpass the earlier ornithological work of poet-naturalist Alexander Wilson, whose work he used to guide him .Audubon called his future work “Birds of America”. He attempted to paint one page each day. Painting with newly discovered technique, He hired hunters to gather specimens for him. Audubon realized the ambitious project would take him away from his family for months at a time.

in 1824 Audubon returned to Philadelphia to seek a publisher for his bird drawings. He was rebuffed by many publishers, until he met Thomas Sully, one of the most famous portrait painters of the time and had earned the enmity of some of the city’s leading scientists at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He took oil painting lessons from Sully and met Charles Bonaparte, who admired his work and recommended he go to Europe to have his bird drawings engraved. So in 1826 Audubon took his growing collection of work to England, taking a portfolio of over 300 drawings. With letters of introduction to prominent Englishmen, Audubon gained their quick attention.

The British could not get enough of his images of backwoods America and its natural attractions. He met with great acceptance as he toured around England and Scotland, and was lionized as “the American woodsman.” He raised enough money to begin publishing his Birds of America. This monumental work consists of 435 hand-colored, life-size prints of 497 bird species, made from engraved copper plates of various sizes depending on the size of the image. They were printed on sheets measuring about 39 by 26 inches (660 mm). The work contains just over 700 North American bird species. The pages were organized for artistic effect and contrasting interest, as if the reader were taking a visual tour. The first and perhaps most famous plate was the Wild Turkey, which had been Benjamin Franklin’s candidate for the national bird. It lost to the Bald Eagle. Audubon also sold oil-painted copies of the drawings to make extra money and publicize the book.

Audubon soon had many fans including King George IV was also a subscriber to his book. London’s Royal Society recognized his achievement by electing Audubon a fellow. He followed Benjamin Franklin, who was the first American fellow. While in Edinburgh to seek subscriptions for the book, Audubon gave a demonstration of his method of propping up birds with wire at professor Robert Jameson’s Wernerian Natural History Association. Student Charles Darwin was in the audience. Audubon also visited the dissecting theatre of the anatomist Robert Knox. Audubon was a hit in France as well, gaining the King and several of the nobility as subscribers. Audubon returned to America in 1829 to complete more drawings for his magnum opus. He also hunted animals and shipped the valued skins to British friends. He was reunited with his family. After settling business affairs, Lucy accompanied him back to England.

He followed Birds of America with a sequel Ornithological Biographies. This was a collection of life histories of each species written with Scottish ornithologist William MacGillivray. The two books were printed separately to avoid a British law requiring copies of all publications with text to be deposited in Crown libraries, a huge financial burden for the self-published Audubon. Both books were published between 1827 and 1839. During the 1830s, Audubon continued making expeditions in North America. During a trip to Key West, a companion wrote in a newspaper article, “Mr. Audubon is the most enthusiastic and indefatigable man I ever knew…Mr. Audubon was neither dispirited by heat, fatigue, or bad luck”. he would draw during the day before returning to the field in the evening, a routine he kept up for weeks and months. In 1833, Audubon set forth from Maine accompanied by his son John, and five other young colleagues to explore the ornithology of Labrador. On the return voyage, the Ripley made a stop at St.George’s, Newfoundland and Audubon and his assistants documented 36 species of birds.

In 1839 having finished the Ornithological Biography, Audubon returned to the United States with his family. He bought an estate on the Hudson River (now Audubon Park). In 1842, he published an octavo edition of Birds of America, with 65 additional plates. It earned $36,000 and was purchased by 1100 subscribers. Audubon spent much time on “subscription gathering trips”, drumming up sales of the octavo edition, as he hoped to leave his family a sizable income. Audubon made some excursions out West where he hoped to record Western species he had missed, but his health began to fail, Until In 1848, he manifested signs of senility, his “noble mind in ruins.” He died at his family home on January 27, 1851. Audubon is buried, close to the location of his home, in the graveyard at the Church of the Intercession in the Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum at 155th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. There is an imposing monument in his honor at the cemetery, which is the center of the Heritage Rose District of NYC.

Audubon’s final work was on mammals, the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, prepared in collaboration with his good friend Rev. John Bachman of Charleston, South Carolina. Bachman supplied much of the scientific text. The work was completed by Audubon’s sons and son-in-law and published posthumously. His son John did most of the drawings. Audubon’s influence on ornithology and natural history was far reaching. Nearly all later ornithological works were inspired by his artistry and high standards. Charles Darwin quoted Audubon three times in On the Origin of Species and also in later works. Audubon’s field notes were a significant contribution to the understanding of bird anatomy and behavior. Birds of America is still considered one of the greatest examples of book art. Audubon discovered 25 new species and 12 new subspecies. He was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Linnaean Society, and the Royal Society in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Natural history

Penguin Awareness Day

Penguin awareness Day takes place annually on 20 January. The purpose of Penguin Awareness Day is to educate people concening the issues faced by penguins and bring international focus on the conservation of penguin habitats.

Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds of the order Sphenisciformes, family Spheniscida . There Are many species of Penguin including the Emperor, King, Gentoo, Adelie, Chinstrap, Galapagos and Macaroni Penguins. They live almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, with only one species, the Galapagos penguin, found north of the equator. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have evolved into flippers. Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid and other forms of sea life which they catch while swimming underwater. They spend roughly half of their lives on land and the other half in the sea.

Although almost all penguin species are native to the Southern Hemisphere, they are not found only in cold climates, such as Antarctica. In fact, only a few species of penguin live so far south. Several species are found in the temperate zone, and one species, the Galápagos penguin, lives near the equator.

The largest living species is the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri): on average, adults are about 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in) tall and weigh 35 kg (77 lb). The smallest penguin species is the little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor), also known as the fairy penguin, which stands around 40 cm (16 in) tall and weighs 1 kg (2.2 lb). Among extant penguins, larger penguins inhabit colder regions, while smaller penguins are generally found in temperate or even tropical climates (see also Bergmann’s rule). Some prehistoric species attained enormous sizes, becoming as tall or as heavy as an adult human. These were not restricted to Antarctic regions; on the contrary, subantarctic regions harboured high diversity, and at least one giant penguin occurred in a region around 2,000 km south of the equator 35 Million years ago, in a climate which was warmer than today.

Other National Events or Holidays taking place 20 January

National Disc Jockey Day
Camcorder Day
National Buttercrunch Day
National Cheese Lovers Day
Penguin Awareness Day
Take a Walk Outdoors Day

Nicholas Steno

Often considered the father of geology and stratigraphy, Danish Catholic bishop and scientist Blessed Nicolas Steno was born 11 January in 1638 in Copenhagen. His pioneering research in both anatomy and geology has led to a greater understanding in both, and he was also beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988. He was the son of a Lutheran goldsmith who worked regularly for King Christian IV of Denmark, but grew up in isolation during his childhood, because of an unknown disease. In 1644 his father died, after which his mother married another goldsmith. Across the street lived Peder Schumacher (who would later offer Steno a post as professor in Copenhagen). After completing his university education, Steno set out to travel through Europe, In the Netherlands, France, Italy and Germany he came into contact with prominent physicians and scientists. These influences led him to use his own powers of observation to make important scientific discoveries. At a time when scientific questions were mostly answered by appeal to ancient authorities, Steno was bold enough to trust his own eyes, even when his observations differed from traditional doctrines.

He studied anatomy focusing again on the Lymphatic system and discovered a previously undescribed structure, the “ductus stenonianus” (the duct of the parotid salivary gland) in sheep, dog and rabbit heads. Steno’s name is associated with this structure. Within a few months Steno moved to Leiden, where he met the students Jan Swammerdam, Frederik Ruysch, Reinier de Graaf, Franciscus de le Boe Sylvius, a famous professor, and Baruch Spinoza. At the time Descartes was publishing on the working of the brain, and Steno did not think his explanation of the origin of tears was correct. Steno studied the heart, and determined that it was an ordinary muscle.

He later travelled to Saumur and Montpellier, where his work was introduced to the Royal Society. In Pisa, Steno met the Grand Duke of Tuscany, who supported arts and science. Steno was invited to live in the Palazzo Vecchio, he also went to Rome and met Alexander VII and Marcello Malpighi. As an anatomist in the hospital Steno focused on the muscular system and the nature of muscle contraction. He also became a member of Accademia del Cimento in Florence. Like Vincenzio Viviani, Steno used geometry to show that a contracting muscle changes its shape but not its volume.

Steno also dissected a sharks head and noted that the shark’s teeth bore a striking resemblance to certain stony objects, found embedded within rock formations. at the time these were known as glossopetrae or “tongue stones” by Ancient authorities, such as the Roman author Pliny the Elder, who had suggested in his book Naturalis Historia that these stones had fallen from the sky or from the Moon, while Others thought, that fossils grew natuarally in the rocks. Fabio Colonna, however, had already shown in a convincing way that glossopetrae were shark teeth and Steno added to the discussion on the differences in composition between glossopetrae and living sharks’ teeth, arguing that the chemical composition of fossils could be altered without changing their form, using the contemporary corpuscular theory of matter.

This led him to the question of how any solid object could come to be found inside another solid object, such as a rock or a layer of rock. The “solid bodies within solids” that attracted Steno’s interest included not only fossils, as we would define them today, but minerals, crystals, encrustations, veins, and even entire rock layers or strata. He published his geologic studies in De solido intra solidum naturaliter contento dissertationis prodromus, or Preliminary discourse to a dissertation on a solid body naturally contained within a solid in 1669. Steno was not the first to identify fossils as being from living organisms; his contemporaries Robert Hooke and John Ray also argued that fossils were the remains of once-living organisms.

Steno, in his Dissertationis prodromus is credited with three of the defining principles of the science of stratigraphy: the law of superposition, the principle of original horizontality and the principle of cross-cutting discontinuities. These principles were applied and extended in 1772 by Jean-Baptiste L. Romé de l’Isle. Steno’s landmark theory that the fossil record was a chronology of different living creatures in different eras was a sine qua non for Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Despite Having been brought up in the Lutheran faith, Steno also questioned its teachings, and After making comparative theological studies, and by using his natural observational skills, he decided that Catholicism, rather than Lutheranism, provided more sustenance for his constant inquisitiveness. Steno converted to Catholicism. In 1675 Steno was ordained a priest. Athanasius Kircher expressly asked why Steno had left science and became one of the leading figures in the Counter-Reformation.

In 1684 Steno moved to Hamburg and became involved in the study of the brain and the nerve system with an old friend Dirck Kerckring. Steno was invited to Schwerin. To test his theory Steno dressed like a poor man in an old cloak and drove in an open carriage in snow and rain. Living four days a week on bread and beer, he became emaciated. When Steno had fulfilled his mission, he wanted to go back to Italy. Sadly though Steno died whilst in Germany on 5th December 1686, His corpse was shipped by Kerckring to Florence and buried in the Basilica of San Lorenzo close to his protectors, the De’ Medici family. In 1953 his grave was discovered, and the corpse was reburied after a procession through the streets of the city.

The Steno Museum in Århus, Denmark, is named after Steno, and holds exhibitions on the history of science and medicine, and also has a planetarium and a medicinal herb garden. Impact craters on Mars and the Moon have also been named in his honour. In 1950 the “Niels Steensens Gymnasium”, a Catholic preparatory school, was founded on a Jesuit monastery in Copenhagen. The Steno Diabetes Center, a research and teaching hospital dedicated to diabetes in Gentofte, Denmark, was also named after Nicolas Steno and The Istituto Niels Stensen, in Florence, is also dedicated to his memory.

🐒 Monkey Day

Monkey Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated internationally on December 14th. While the holiday is mainly about monkeys, it also celebrates other non-human primates such as apes, tarsiers, and lemurs. The holiday was started in 2000 when artist Casey Sorrow, then an art student at Michigan State University, jokingly scribbled Monkey Day on a friend’s calendar, and then first celebrated the holiday with other MSU art students. It gained notoriety when Sorrow and fellow MSU art student Eric Millikin began including Monkey Day in their artwork and Fetus-X comic strips, and began promoting it online along with other artists. Since then, Monkey Day has been celebrated internationally, across countries like the U.S., Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

It is described it as the “one day when monkey business is actually encouraged.” The holiday is primarily celebrated with costume parties intended to help draw attention to issues related to Primates including medical research, animal rights, and evolution.

Monkeys are Mammals of the order Primate (Latin: “prime, first rank”) primates include two distinct lineages, strepsirrhines and haplorhines. Primates arose from ancestors that lived in the trees of tropical forests; many primate characteristics represent adaptations to life in this challenging three-dimensional environment. Most primate species remain at least partly arboreal. Most primates live in tropical or subtropical regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia. They range in typical size from Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, which weighs only 30 g (1 oz), to the eastern gorilla, weighing over 200 kg (440 lb). Based on fossil evidence, the earliest known true primates, represented by the genus Teilhardina, date to 55.8 mya. An early close primate relative known from abundant remains is the Late Paleocene Plesiadapis, c. 55–58 million years old. Molecular clock studies suggest that the primate branch may be even older, originating near the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary or around 63–74 mya.

The order Primates was traditionally divided into two main groupings: prosimians and anthropoids (simians). Prosimians have characteristics more like those of the earliest primates, and include the lemurs of Madagascar, lorisoids, and tarsiers. Simians include monkeys and apes. More recently, taxonomists have preferred to split primates into the suborder Strepsirrhini, or wet-nosed primates, consisting of non-tarsier prosimians, and the suborder Haplorhini, or dry-nosed primates, consisting of tarsiers and the simians.

Simians are divided into two groups: catarrhine (narrow-nosed) monkeys and apes of Africa and Southeast Asia and platyrrhine (“flat-nosed”) or New World monkeys of South and Middle America. Catarrhines consist of Old World monkeys (such as baboons and macaques), gibbons and great apes; New World monkeys include the capuchin, howler and squirrel monkeys. Humans are the only extant catarrhines to have spread successfully outside of Africa, South Asia, and East Asia, although fossil evidence shows many other species were formerly present in Europe. New primate species are still being discovered. More than 25 species were taxonomically described in the decade of the 2000s and eleven have been described since 2010.

Primates exhibit a wide range of characteristics. Some primates (including some great apes and baboons) are primarily terrestrial rather than arboreal, but all species possess adaptations for climbing trees. Locomotion techniques used include leaping from tree to tree, walking on two or four limbs, knuckle-walking, and swinging between branches of trees (brachiation). Primates are characterized by large brains relative to other mammals, as well as an increased reliance on stereoscopic vision at the expense of smell, the dominant sensory system in most mammals. These features are more developed in monkeys and apes and noticeably less so in lorises and lemurs. Three-color vision has developed in some primates. Except for apes, they have tails. Most primates also have opposable thumbs. Many species are sexually dimorphic; differences include body mass, canine tooth size, and coloration. Primates have slower rates of development than other similarly sized mammals and reach maturity later, but have longer lifespans. Depending on the species, adults may live in solitude, in mated pairs, or in groups of up to hundreds of members.

During Monkey Day there are competitions to see who has the best costumes, who can act like a monkey the longest, or speed knitting of monkey dolls. The holiday cuts across religious boundaries and provides opportunities to share monkey stories and contemplate our simian relatives. Other Monkey Day activities include going on shopping sprees for Paul Frank “Julius the Monkey” fashions, eating Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream, and spending the day at the zoo.In 2005, Peter Jackson’s King Kong was released on the fifth anniversary of Monkey Day. King Kong and Planet of the Apes films are popular at Monkey Day parties. Monkey-themed songs, such as Major Lance’s “The Monkey Time”, are also part of Monkey Day festivities. Often, celebrations involve raising money for primate-related issues. In 2008, the official Monkey Day celebrations included an art show and silent auction to benefit the Chimps Inc. animal sanctuary; the show and auction included art by human artists as well as paintings from chimps Jackson and Kimie, residents of the sanctuary. The Biddle Gallery in Detroit also celebrated Monkey Day in 2008 with an annual Monkey Day art sale that included a free banana with each purchase.

Seven Worlds, One Planet

The latest amazing BBC Natural History program Seven Worlds one planet is out on blu-ray and DVD. Narrated by David Attenborough It features some of the varied wildlife And environments which are present on the continents of planet Earth Asia, Africa, America, Europe and Antarctica and Explains how the animals that live there have all adapted to the different and extreme conditions which can be found on each continent, and managed to survive and in some cases flourish in some seemingly inhospitable conditions.

Episode one features Antarctica—the coldest, windiest, most hostile continent where Only the toughest can survive here. From Weddell seals that grind back the ice with their teeth, to colourful starfish carpeting the seabed beneath the ice. Huge colonies of king penguins crowd any ice-free land, and four tonne elephant seals fight for territory on the beach. Life comes here because the ocean that surrounds the continent is incredibly rich. However, the ocean here is warming and with that comes an uncertain future. Grey-headed albatross chicks battle for survival in the harsh gales of South Georgia, while southern right whales slowly recover from almost total annihilation at the hands of the whaling industry, and Gentoo penguins face a dangerous trek across uneven ice in order to get to the open ocean and feed without becoming food for leopard seals themselves. Antarctica is also host to the amazing spectacle of Thousands of penguins, seals, albatross, and over a hundred great whales feastIng on krill baitballs, whilst below the ice on the sea floor, an entire ecosystem of sea anemones, starfish, nudibranches, jellyfish and giant nematode worms live out their lives in the icy depths

Episode two features Asia—the most varied and extreme continent which stretches from the Arctic Circle to the equator. Walrus gather in huge numbers in the frozen north, risking death to escape polar bears. Brown bears roam remote Russian volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula, and orangutans climb high into the trees in the Indonesian rainforests in search of mango fruit. Blue faced snub-nosed monkeys search for fruit in the mountain forests of China While Camouflaged spider-tailed horned vipers lure migrating birds in the baking Lut desert in Iran in a most bizarre fashion , While The deep jungles provide sanctuary for the last few Sumatran rhino.

Episode three features South America—the most species rich continent on Earth. From the volcanoes of the Andes to the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon. In Patagonia, a puma mother attempts to catch prey three times her weight To feed her hungry cubs. In the cloud forest, rarely seen Andean bears clamber thirty metres into the canopy to find elusive fruit. Poison dart frogs use ingenious methods to keep their tadpoles safe, whilst anacondas stalk capuchin monkeys. At Igauzu, swifts nest behind one of the biggest waterfalls on Earth. and must make death-defying flights through It in order to catch food for their young, who in turn must fly through it when they are old enough

Episode four features Australia, a land cast adrift and Isolated for millions of years, where a large number of weird and wonderful animals Have evolved after having been marooned here. It features The cassowary, a six feet tall flightless and rather aggressive bird.  kangaroos and wombats Who brave snowstorms and gum tree forests Which are filled with never-before-seen predators, reptile who drink through their skin and huge flocks of wild budgerigars Who swirl in search of water. Tasmanian devils Who roam In search of prey Whilst offshore, thousands of sharks gather for a rare event.

Episode five features the continent of Europe where Above Gibraltar, Europe’s only primate The Barbary Ape, lives a life of kidnapping and high drama, whilst in Vienna Live churchyard-dwelling European hamsters. Wolves hunt in mountain villages in Italy’s Apennine Mountains, whilst Iberian lynx lurk in the forests of Spain. On the surface of the River Danube, voracious great white pelicans rob cormorants for their catches of fish. Deep underground in Slovenia’s caves, the Olm—a species of salamander once thought to be baby dragons—live for up to a hundred years, while every summer, Hungary’s Tisza River is host to a miraculous display of a giant mayfly’s fleeting life cycle. 

Episode six features North America which experiences extreme seasonal changeS including Tornados which roar across the prairies and Arctic air which sweeps through the humid, southern swamps. In the North Canada lynx prowl the snowy Yukon for snowshoe hares, whilst Florida manatees seek hot springs to escape the freeze. In the creeks of Tennessee, fish build spectacular underwater pyramids to find a mate. Fireflies light up the forests during summer nights, roadrunners cruise the spectacular deserts of Arizona and polar bears leap from rocks to hunt beluga whales.

Episode seven features the continent of Africa which is home to some of the greatest wildlife gatherings on Earth. In the jungles, young chimps learn to use tools to find food. Whilst On the savannah, a group of cheetah brothers team up to hunt prey twice their size. And, in crystal clear freshwater lakes, caring fish mothers are tricked by devious imposters. The hyena make epic treks to find food on the beach in the Namib Desert, whilst in the Kalahari, Desert the bizarre aardvark digs deep to find a meal.

Sadly it seems that for much of Earth’s wildlife the greatest threat comes from humans, who are threatening The survival of many animal species destroying Many acres of Jungle to create vast oil palm plantations And many animals  Have been walled in for their own safety against poachers and loggers. Nevertheless human intervention has helped the survival of a few species and efforts are being made to redress the balance and help wildlife recover.

Adopt a turtle Day

Adopt a turtle day takes place annually on 27 November. The purpose of Adopt a turtle day is to help people celebrate and protect endangered turtles and their disappearing habitats around the world as well as providing helpful information concerning tutrtle preservation in order to protect the seven species of marine turtle Loggerhead, leatherback, Hawksbill, Olive Ridley, Kemps Ridley and Green from the threat of extinction through a variety of factors including Global warming, loss of Habitat, pollution or poaching.

Turtles are diapsids of the order Testudines (or Chelonii) characterized by a special bony or cartilaginous shell developed from their ribs and acting as a shield. “Turtle” may refer to the order as a whole (American English) or to fresh-water and sea-dwelling testudines (British English). The order Testudines includes both extant (living) and extinct species. The earliest known members of this group date from 220 million years ago, making turtles one of the oldest reptile groups and a more ancient group than snakes or crocodilians. Of the 356 known species alive today, some are highly endangered.

Tortoises also belong to the family Testudinidae under the order Testudines and suborder Cryptodira. There are fourteen extant families of the order Testudines, an order of reptile commonly known as turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. The suborder Cryptodira (Greek: hidden neck) is a suborder of Testudines that includes most living tortoises and turtles. Cryptodira differ from Pluerodia (side-neck turtles) in that they lower their necks and pull the heads straight back into the shells, instead of folding their necks sideways along the body under the shells’ marginals.The testudines are some of the most ancient reptiles alive. Tortoises are shielded from predators by a shell. The top part of the shell is the carapace, the underside is the plastron, and the two are connected by the bridge. The carapace is fused to both the vertebrae and ribcage, and tortoises are unique among vertebrates in that the pectoral and pelvic girdles are inside the ribcage rather than outside. Tortoises can vary in size from a few centimeters to two meters. They are usually diurnal animals with tendencies to be crepuscular depending on the ambient temperatures. They are generally reclusive animals. Tortoises are the longest living land animal in the world, although the longest living species of tortoise is a matter of debate. Galápagos tortoises are noted to live over 150 years, but an Aldabra giant tortoise named Adwaita may have been the longest living at an estimated 255 years. In general, most tortoise species can live 80-150 years.

Both Turtles and tortoises are ectotherms—animals commonly called cold-blooded—meaning that their internal temperature varies according to the ambient environment. However, because of their high metabolic rate, leatherback sea turtles have a body temperature that is noticeably higher than that of the surrounding water. Turtles are classified as amniotes, along with other reptiles, birds, and mammals. Like other amniotes, turtles breathe air and do not lay eggs underwater, although many species live in or around water. The study of turtles is called cheloniology, after the Greek word for turtle. It is also sometimes called testudinology, after the Latin name for turtles.

Evolution Day

Evolution Day is a celebration annually on 24 November to commemorate the anniversary of the initial publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin on 24 November 1859. 2019 marks the 260th Anniversary

Such celebrations have been held for over a century, but the specific term “Evolution Day” for the anniversary appears to be a neologism which was coined prior to 1997. By highlighting Darwin’s contributions to science, the day’s events are used to educate about evolutionary biology. It is similar to the better-known Darwin Day, held on the anniversary of his birth (12 February 1809). It is unrelated to the secularization campaign by the Giordano Bruno Foundation to have the German public holiday of Ascension Day renamed to “Evolutionstag” (Evolution Day)

On the Origin of Species (or more completely,  On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life), is a work of scientific literature by Charles Darwin which is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. It was published on 24 November 1859, and introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. It presented a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching pattern of evolution. Darwin included evidence that he had gathered on the Beagle expedition in the 1830s and his subsequent findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation.

Various evolutionary ideas had already been proposed to explain new findings in biology. There was growing support for such ideas among dissident anatomists and the general public, but during the first half of the 19th century the English scientific establishment was closely tied to the Church of England, while science was part of natural theology. Ideas about the transmutation of species were controversial as they conflicted with the beliefs that species were unchanging parts of a designed hierarchy and that humans were unique, unrelated to other animals. The political and theological implications were intensely debated, but transmutation was not accepted by the scientific mainstream.

The book was written for non-specialist readers and attracted widespread interest upon its publication. As Darwin was an eminent scientist, his findings were taken seriously and the evidence he presented generated scientific, philosophical, and religious discussion. The debate over the book contributed to the campaign by T. H. Huxley and his fellow members of the X Club to secularise science by promoting scientific naturalism. Within two decades there was widespread scientific agreement that evolution, with a branching pattern of common descent, had occurred, but scientists were slow to give natural selection the significance that Darwin thought appropriate. During “the eclipse of Darwinism” from the 1880s to the 1930s, various other mechanisms of evolution were given more credit. With the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s, Darwin’s concept of evolutionary adaptation through natural selection became central to modern evolutionary theory, and it has now become the unifying concept of the life sciences.

The year 1909, was the 50th anniversary of the publication of On The Origin of Species and the 100th anniversary of Darwin’s birth. As a result Seven major events took place celebrating both. At Cambridge, more than 400 scientists and dignitaries from 167 countries met in a widely reported event of public interest to honour Darwin’s contributions and discuss the latest discoveries and ideas related to evolution, the New York Academy of Sciences held a celebration at the American Museum of Natural History, and the Royal Society of New Zealand held an event.The Darwin Centennial Celebration (1959) had a major, well publicised event from 24–28 November at the University of Chicago. In 2009, the BBC aired BBC Darwin Season, a series of television and radio programs, to celebrate Darwin’s bicentenary and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin.