Thursday, 26 May 2022

Bonhams Natural History Auction

Allosaurus claw boasts exceptional preservation, size and presentation. Dinosaur claws are much more rare than dino teeth, as dinosaurs' teeth were replaced throughout their lifetimes, whereas claws were not. A formidable predator, Allosaurus had short arms with three-fingered hands completed by razor-sharp claws.
Allosaurus hand claws are much larger than Tyrannosaurus.
A virtually complete Struthiomimus sedens hand, mounted in a lifelike pose. As in all members of the theropod subgroup Ornithomimidae, all three fingers are nearly the same length. Struthiomimus, meaning ostrich mimic, is known from the Late Cretaceous in North America. The genus possessed a small, light, toothless skull, a slender, flexible neck and, most likely, a birdlike horny beak covering the jaws.


Wednesday, 25 May 2022

The Ancient Kingdom of Axum

The greatest empire to ever exist in Africa, the Kingdom of Aksum lasted from around 100 AD to 940 AD, and extended across East Africa and beyond, including modern-day Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sudan. Located in the northern province of Tigray, Aksum remained the capital of Ethiopia until the seventh century CE. The ancient Kingdom of Axum, also known as Askum, stands out for its early use of coins.
The kingdom is famous for its stone cut obelisks. They were carved out of a single stone and marked graves and burial chambers. Its believed that the Queen of Sheba ruled the Kingdom of Aksum for more than 50 years. According to legend, the Ark of the Covenant came to Ethiopia and has till now been guarded by a succession of monks.


Nemesis brought great sorrow to mortals.
To ancient Greeks, Nemesis is the goddess who enacts retribution for evil deeds, undeserved good fortune, and against those who succumb to hubris (arrogance before the gods). Her name was derived from the Greek words nemêsis and nemô, meaning "dispenser of dues." A purveyor of justice, Nemesis was often depicted with a sword and scales. She is a winged goddess often wielding a whip or a dagger. Her Roman counterpart was Invidia, the goddess of jealousy and vengeance.

Justice (Dike, on the left) and Divine Vengeance (Nemesis) are pursuing the murderer. Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, 1808
Happiness and unhappiness were measured out by her, care being taken that happiness was not too frequent or excessive. If this happened, Nemesis could bring about losses and suffering. She was an avenging agent and punishing power of fate, who, sooner or later, overtakes the reckless sinner. Narcissus was a popular choice among elite Romans seeking to decorate their homes.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Orchids good as gold

According to cops it was a professional job and the thieves knew exactly what they were after. Bearing all the marks of an art gallery heist, this was the scene at Kew Gardens in 2014 where a rare African water lily was snatched. Its thought to have been sold to an unscrupulous private collector.
The legal plant trade amounts to £9 billion a year worldwide. There is a kudos in owning anything rare. Although it’s impossible to give precise figures for plants, there is a thriving black market involving private collectors. If someone wants a species badly enough they will pay vast amounts of money for it. Rare and new discoveries of wild plants are the most prized.
Monkeyface orchid

Hochstetter Butterfly Orchid
Some orchids species are being driven to extinction. One of the world’s rarest orchids was re-discovered in 2014 by botanists on a volcanic island in the Atlantic. There were 250 plants of the unique species on the island of Sao Jorge in the Portuguese Azores, making it the rarest in Europe.
Bee Orchid

Lady's Slipper orchids

The albino form of the Vanda sanderiana or the Waling-waling is a rare and prized plant for orchid collectors and breeders.

Bulbophyllum kubahense

Phragmipedium kovachii was first found in 2001 and is referred to as one of the most important natural history discoveries in the last decade.

Cypripedium calceolus. It receives round-the-clock police surveillance where it grows on a Lancashire golf course.

Paphiopedilum rothschildianum, an orchid that is on top of the endangered species list.
The contemporary orchid-breeding business in Taiwan and its main rival, the Netherlands, centers on the Phalaenopsis, or the moth orchid. In Victorian Europe, orchid hunters, hired by wealthy collectors, sometimes killed each other in pursuit of new breeds.

Bornean slipper orchid

Shenzhen Nongke orchid took eight years to develop and in 2005, it was sold for about $200k.
A new species of orchid found in Colombia has been named Telipogon diabolicus, because the heart of the flower has an eerie resemblance to a devil's head. There aren't many flowers of this kind in existence.

Researchers found a small patch of about 30 orchids between the borders of two Colombian departments. So far, this is its only known habitat.

Monday, 23 May 2022


An Elagabalus 218-222 CE gold aureus. The obverse features a laureate bust of the Roman emperor Elagabalus facing left. On the reverse is a stunning scene with a quadriga moving left to right bearing the stone of Emesa with an eagle cresting the stone. The legend reads “SANCT DEO SOLI ELAGABAL” ('To the Holy Sun God El-Gabel'). This example is one of two of this type known to exist.

At 18 he was assassinated and replaced by his cousin Severus Alexander in March 222.
Ancients regarded stones that fell from the sky as manifestations of the divine. The Syrian town of Emesa (now Homs) had a temple enshrining a conical black stone that was likely a meteorite. Elagabalus' first official act was to transfer the sacred rock to Rome’s main temple, the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill. Elagabalus disregarded Roman religious traditions and sexual taboos. He replaced the head of the Roman pantheon, Jupiter, with the deity Elagabal, of whom he had been high priest. His behavior outraged the Praetorian Guard, the Senate, and the common people.
See ----->Worst Roman Emperors

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Truk Lagoon National Monument

A visual history lesson from WW II lies at the bottom of Truk Lagoon. The lagoon hosted Operation Hailstone on Feb 16/17, 1944.
American planes launched an aerial attack on anchored ships. Truk Lagoon was a major naval base with an extensive infrastructure for the Japanese Imperial Navy. Because of this, the base was called the "the Gibraltar of the Pacific."

Truk Lagoon was considered the most formidable of all Japanese strongholds in the Pacific.

Truk was Japan's equivalent of the Americans' Pearl Harbor, it was their largest forward naval base.
The Japanese fleet lost an estimated 10 warships, over 30 supply vessels, 275 aircraft, light cruisers, and destroyers, and an estimated 4,500 military personnel during the two-day strike.
Forewarned by intelligence a week before the US raid, the Japanese had withdrawn their larger warships (heavy cruisers and aircraft carriers) to Palau.

Shroud of Turin Fake

The Shroud of Turin is one of Catholicism’s most controversial and mysterious artifacts.

For some, it comes down to a question of faith.
It is believed by some to have shrouded the body of Jesus Christ, while others consider it a hoax perpetrated by medieval con men. Despite multiple rounds of testing using radiocarbon dating, pollen testing, microscopic analysis and image enhancement, scientists have been unable to say whether the object is legitimate or not.
Researchers used a volunteer to simulate the position of the body that would be required to create the strains found on the shroud.
But it was impossible for the stains to have been made by wrapping a dead body. The volunteer created a range of bloodstained materials from simulated wounds to the head, hands, feet, back and waist, mirroring those suffered by Jesus. When the volunteer was laid out on a shroud, each wound made specific marks that could be cross-referenced with the shroud.
Blood splatters on the cloth were inconsistent, suggesting the stains had been made with several different poses and likely by a standing person—not a corpse lying flat.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Herculaneum beach

An ancient beach in Herculaneum was excavated for the first time in 40 years. Work at the Antica Spiaggia area began in January. It was already partially excavated in the 1980s. Dozens of skeletons were found, including the famed 'Ring Lady,' named for the rings on her fingers. Herculaneum was much closer to the crater of Mount Vesuvius than Pompeii, and was buried under 23 metres of material from the pyroclastic surges. Smithsonian Channel documentary ‘Mummies Alive: Hero of Herculaneum’ looks into the eruption in 79 AD.
The beach is now about four metres below current sea levels. Researchers uncovered the remains of almost 300 people who died from the intense heat while waiting for rescue.
Evidence has been found of high temperatures on the skeletons of those found in the arched vaults on the seashore, which is now 500 metres inland, as well as the existence of carbonised wood in the boathouses, which became their tombs. Dubbed the ‘Herculaneum 300’, their remains were found just four miles (6.43 km) from Mount Vesuvius. Historians have suggested the group was minutes away from being rescued by Pliny the Elder, commander of the local naval fleet. His nephew, Pliny the Younger, wrote two letters describing the eruption, both of which have great historical significance due to their accurate description of the eruption.