News

Scientists observed snakes "slithering" through the air to stay aloft

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Such intoxicating displays of mimicry

Very occasionally a book comes along which enables you to see the world in a different way, and I have just discovered one. The title is Butterflies: Messages from Psyche and the author is Philip Howse, a retired Professor of Entomology at the University of Southampton. Published six weeks ago, the book is large-format, and since it is profusely illustrated with splendid photographs of butterflies and moths, many of them magnificent tropical species in bravura colours, your first thought is: coffee table. Yet something radical is going on in these pages which marks this volume out as one to be read rather than left lying around in your sitting room.

Out of the python's den

Bali, a 22ft female reticulated python, was coaxed out of her home yesterday by a team of zookeepers in Chester Zoo. A tube was placed around the snake's head to make her feel comfortable, as if she were in a cave.

Dom Joly: Snakes on the pitch and Beckham on the end of Fabio's fury

I couldn't resist hanging on to the app that somebody gave me that allows me to hack into David Beckham's mobile. I don't really do much any more – I don't go out, watch TV, talk to people, I just spend hours listening in to Beck's calls, I'm totally addicted. Here's a good one from last week.

Fire destroys rare snake collection

A fire in Brazil has destroyed what may have been the world's largest scientific collection of dead snakes, spiders and scorpions, which served as the main source for research on many species.

Brothers 'released poisonous snakes in feud'

Two brothers have been arrested after allegedly releasing poisonous snakes near the home of a local leader they were feuding with in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, police said today.

The Hacker: Lennie claws up snakes and ladders to grab oven gloves

Watching a hacker claw his way to the top against all the odds can bring a tear to the eye and there were a few of those at our winter league presentation supper on Friday night when Lennie Ingram collected the winners' trophy.

Picky baboons develop a taste for pinot noir (but merlot just won't do)

Baboons, it seems, prefer pinot noir. They also like a nice chardonnay. Largely undeterred by electric fences, hundreds of wild baboons in South Africa's prized winelands are feasting on ripe, succulent grapes, forcing winemakers to use noisemakers and rubber snakes to try to drive them off during this harvest season.

Adrift in a world that's stranger than fiction

Writing children's fantasies is not simply about making it all up, says novelist Inbali Iserles. Travelling provides her with the vital research that helps breathe life into amazing stories

Where the Serpent Lives, By Ruth Padel

Having worked in many fields - poetry, non-fiction, broadcasting, conservation, the Darwin industry - Ruth Padel has now attempted a novel. Where the Serpent Lives is an ambitious work: set in London and India, it blends Padel's well-known interest in animals with the travails of 21st-century Londoners. At the centre is Rosamund, her wealthy and philandering husband Tyler, their incommunicative son Russel (named after naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who almost scooped Padel's great-great grandfather Charles Darwin) and his dog Bono.

Great lovers: A celebration of true romance

There is romance - and then there is the kind of all-consuming passion that passes into romantic legend. In the first part of a two-day Valentine celebration, John Walsh and Ariane Sherine pay tribute to 50 special relationships that still warm the heart.

Fabricated quote used to discredit climate scientist

Sir John Houghton explains to Steve Connor how global warming sceptics have misrepresented his views

The Hacker: Game of snakes, ladders and top dogs

No golfers in the world are braver or more hardy than those who contest the thousands of club winter leagues throughout these islands.

Hit & Run: Would we care if he were alive?

Imagine that this year's breakout novelist is a 56-year-old Russian-American called Vladimir Nabokov, whose 12th work of fiction, Lolita, is making waves. On Radio 4's Front Row, his agent explains that yes, it has taken a while to be published in the UK or the US, but it's available from a Parisian porn imprint called the Olympia Press. He explains it's a monologue by a posh, unregenerate paedophile called Humbert Humbert, and his 12-year-old "nymphet" stepdaughter, with whom he absconds across America, for extremely sexual purposes, after her mother dies.

Album: Various artists, Warp 20 (Unheard), (Warp)

Boards of Canada’s woozy one-loop lullaby “Seven Forty Seven”; Autechre’s approachable acid groover “Oval Moon”; the arpeggio squall of Clark’s “Rattlesnake”; the melodic techno-warble of Plaid’s “Dett”; Broadcast’s ever so slightly menacing cover of the Nico song “Sixty Forty”: when the music that it didn’t previously release is as good as it is on this, the third and most desirable of Warp’s 20th anniversary CD compilations, you know a record label has an embarrassment of riches. May the next 20 be as varied and fruitful.

The Flea (1665), Robert Hooke

engraving published in his Micrographia
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