The suction speed of an elephant's trunk is 330 miles per hour

That's as fast as a bullet train in Japan.

Photo by Harshil Gudka on Unsplash

The way an elephant manipulates its trunk to eat and drink could lead to better robots, researchers say.

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Sea cucumber crime is a thing, and this is where it’s happening

A "seafood mafia" is plying the waters between India and Sri Lanka to satisfy China's appetite for an increasingly rare delicacy.

Credit: Phelps Bondaroff/Katapult Magazin, reproduced with kind permission.
  • Long a delicacy in China and East Asia, sea cucumbers are now also becoming a rarity worldwide.
  • India has outlawed the trade, inaugurated a marine reserve, and put together a law enforcement task force.
  • But the trade remains legal in Sri Lanka, which has become the hub for widespread "seafood laundering."
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The ‘Lost Forty’: how a mapping error preserved an old-growth forest

A 19th-century surveying mistake kept lumberjacks away from what is now Minnesota's largest patch of old-growth trees.

Credit: U.S. Forest Service via Dan Alosso on Substack and licensed under CC-BY-SA
  • In 1882, Josias R. King made a mess of mapping Coddington Lake, making it larger than it actually is.
  • For decades, Minnesota loggers left the local trees alone, thinking they were under water.
  • Today, the area is one of the last remaining patches of old-growth forest in the state.
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How your daily coffee can help tropical forests grow back

Researchers find that the coffee pulp is valuable in its own right.

Credit: Rebecca Cole/British Ecological Society
  • When coffee is harvested, the skin and pulp surrounding the bean are often discarded.
  • Costa Rica, which had much of its tropical forests chopped down for agricultural use, is testing coffee pulp as a way to help reforest the country.
  • A new study finds that coffee pulp can help reforest land in just two years.
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    Retrain your brain for long-term thinking

    Escaping the marshmallow brain trap.

    • Roman Krznaric, philosopher and author of the book "The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking," says that there are two parts of the human brain that are driving our decisions and ultimately determining what kind of legacy we leave behind for future generations.
    • Short-term thinking happens in the marshmallow brain (named after the famous Stanford marshmallow test), while long term thinking and strategizing occurs in the acorn brain. By retraining ourselves to use the acorn brain more often, we can ensure that trillions of people—including our grandchildren and their grandchildren—aren't inheriting a depleted world and the worst traits that humankind has to offer.
    • "At the moment we're using on average 1.6 planet earths each year in terms of our ecological footprint," says Krznaric, but that doesn't mean that it's too late to turn things around. Thinking long term about things like politics and education can help "rebuild our imaginations of what a civilization could be."

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