Over the weekend, I happened across a couple of articles in the popular press that made me smile.  I hope these nature tidbits make you smile too. 

News about rhinoceroses is almost always sad.  So when I saw a BBC headline teasing an “exciting” rhino milestone, I had to check it out.  The excitement is real.  The greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) increased its population by more than 100 animals (from 645 in 2015 to 752 today) according to the most recent census.  

The survey was conducted at wildlife sanctuaries in Nepal. There 90% of the rhinos are located in the country’s Chitwan National Park.  Just because the rhinos live in a park didn’t make the survey any easier.  There were tigers, leopards, and rogue elephants that posed real challenges. 

Despite all the obstacles, these results confirm one of the greatest conservation successes in all of Asia. 

To read more about the survey, check out:  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-56731079

Then there was this unexpected article about spiders.  Picture a Spider's Webspider’s web.  Imagine that each of those threads has a specific vibration signature.  Some MIT researchers, in collaboration with Studio Tomás Saraceno, created a 3D model of a web and assigned a musical note to each of the threads.   Eventually, the team used this new spider web score and a harp-like instrument to play the music in performances across the world.

They weren’t finished learning from the spider’s web, however. Apparently, spiders use the vibrations on the web to get sensory information about the world.  Consequently, researchers are trying to decipher the meaning of the vibrations produced when spiders perform different activities. In other words, they are trying to learn the spider’s “language.”  Some progress has been already achieved.  The team is now able to influence the spider’s activities by sending out specific vibrations and rhythms.  

You can read more about this at:  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210412084542.htm