Wikipedia:Today's featured article/July 2020

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July 1

Battle of Malvern Hill

The Battle of Malvern Hill was fought on July 1, 1862, between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by Robert E. Lee, and the Union Army of the Potomac under George B. McClellan. It was the final battle of the Seven Days Battles during the American Civil War, taking place on the 130-foot (40 m) elevation of Malvern Hill, near the Confederate capital of Richmond. Including inactive reserves, more than 50,000 soldiers from each side took part, using more than 200 pieces of artillery. The Union's V Corps, commanded by Fitz John Porter, took up positions on the hill on June 30. The battle occurred in stages: over the course of four hours a series of blunders in planning and communication caused Lee's forces to launch three failed frontal infantry assaults across hundreds of yards of open ground, unsupported by Confederate artillery, charging toward strongly entrenched Union infantry and artillery. These errors provided Union forces with an opportunity to inflict heavy casualties. (Full article...)

July 2

Skeletal diagram of known Ichthyovenator fossils

Ichthyovenator is a genus of spinosaurid dinosaurs that lived in what is now Laos, sometime between 125 and 113 million years ago. The fossils of a single specimen were found between 2010 and 2014 and became the holotype of the new genus and species Ichthyovenator laosensis. It is estimated to have been 8.5 to 10.5 metres (28 to 34 feet) long and weighed around 2.4 tonnes (2.6 short tons). Ichthyovenator is considered a primitive member of the Spinosaurinae and would have had a long, shallow snout and robust forelimbs. It had a sail on its back that may have been used for sexual display or species recognition. The diet of Ichthyovenator (meaning "fish hunter") probably consisted mainly of aquatic prey. Spinosaurids were probably adapted for semiaquatic lifestyles, and also ate small dinosaurs and pterosaurs. The tall vertebral spines of Ichthyovenator's tail suggest that it may have aided in swimming—as in today's crocodilians. (Full article...)

July 3

Peter van Geersdaele

Peter van Geersdaele (3 July 1933 – 20 July 2018) was a British conservator best known for his work on the Sutton Hoo ship burial. Among other work he oversaw the creation of a plaster cast of the ship impression, from which a fibreglass replica of the ship was formed. From 1949 to 1951 he engaged in moulding and casting at the Victoria and Albert Museum. From 1954 to around 1976 he was a conservator at the British Museum, rising to the position of senior conservation officer in the British and Medieval department. Following that he became an assistant chief of archaeology in the conservation division of the National Historic Sites of Canada for Parks Canada, and then the deputy head of the conservation department at the National Maritime Museum in London. He retired in 1993, and during that year's Birthday Honours was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, in recognition of his services to museums. (Full article...)

July 4

Arch of Remembrance

The Arch of Remembrance is a First World War memorial designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and located in Victoria Park, Leicester, in the East Midlands of England. A committee was formed in 1919 to propose a permanent memorial, and the first proposal was accepted, but eventually cancelled due to a shortage of funds. The committee then asked for a memorial arch, which Lutyens presented to a public meeting in 1923. With a large budget devoted entirely to the structure, the result is one of the architect's largest and most imposing war memorials, dominating Victoria Park and the surrounding area. The memorial was unveiled on 4 July 1925 in front of a large crowd. It cost £27,000, though the committee was left with a funding shortfall of £5,500, for which they were criticised in the local press. The arch is a Grade I listed building and, since 2015, has been part of a national collection of Lutyens's war memorials. (Full article...)

July 5

Black currawong

The black currawong (Strepera fuliginosa), also known as the black jay, is a large passerine bird endemic to Tasmania and nearby islands in the Bass Strait. One of three currawong species, it is closely related to the butcherbirds and Australian magpie in the family Artamidae. It is a large crow-like bird, around 50 cm (20 in) long, with yellow irises, a heavy bill, and black plumage with white wing patches. The sexes are similar in appearance. Three subspecies are recognised, one of which, S. f. colei of King Island, is vulnerable to extinction. The black currawong is generally sedentary, although populations at higher altitudes relocate to lower areas during the cooler months. The habitat includes densely forested areas as well as alpine heathland. It is rare below altitudes of 200 m (660 ft). Its omnivore diet includes a variety of berries, invertebrates, and small vertebrates. Less arboreal than the pied currawong, the black currawong spends more time foraging on the ground. It roosts and breeds in trees. (Full article...)

July 6

HMS Carysfort
HMS Carysfort

HMS Levant was a sixth-rate 28-gun frigate of the Coventry class (sister ship HMS Carysfort depicted), launched in 1758. Principally a hunter of privateers, she was also designed to be a match for small French frigates, but with a broader hull and sturdier build at the expense of some speed and manoeuvrability. Assigned to the Jamaica station in 1759, Levant defeated nine French vessels in three years at sea and was part of the British expedition against Martinique in 1762. The frigate was decommissioned in 1763, returned to service in 1766 for patrol duties in the Caribbean, decommissioned for a second time in 1770, and reinstated at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. Sent to the Mediterranean and based at Gibraltar, Levant captured or sank a total of fourteen enemy craft over the next three years, including an 18-gun American privateer. The ageing frigate was removed from Navy service in 1779 and broken up at Deptford Dockyard in 1780, having secured a total of 31 victories during 21 years at sea. (Full article...)

July 7


Maya is the third studio album by British recording artist M.I.A. (pictured), released on 7 July 2010 on her own label, N.E.E.T. Recordings, through XL Recordings and Interscope Records. Songwriting and production for the album were primarily handled by M.I.A., Blaqstarr and Rusko in Los Angeles. The album centres on the theme of information politics. Elements of industrial music were incorporated into M.I.A.'s sound for the first time. In the album's first week of release, it entered the UK Albums Chart at number 21, becoming M.I.A.'s highest-charting album in the UK. It also became her highest-charting album in the US, reaching number nine on the Billboard 200, and debuted in the top 10 in Finland, Norway, Greece and Canada. M.I.A. promoted the album by performing at music festivals in the US and Europe and by releasing a series of tracks online, including "XXXO", "It Takes a Muscle" and "Born Free". (This article is part of a featured topic: M.I.A. albums.)

July 8

Southwest Limited Amtrak train at Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Hi-Level was a bilevel intercity railroad passenger car used in the United States. The Budd Company designed it in the 1950s for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway for use on the El Capitan, a coach-only streamliner which ran daily between Los Angeles and Chicago. The design was inspired by the dome car, employed in intercity routes in the Western United States, and by bilevel commuter cars operating in the Chicago area. Budd built 73 Hi-Level cars between 1952 and 1964. Car types included coaches, dining cars, and lounge cars. Most passenger spaces were on the upper level, which featured a row of windows on both sides. Boarding was on the lower level; passengers climbed up a center stairwell to access the upper level. Vestibules on the upper level permitted passengers to walk between cars. Amtrak inherited the fleet in 1971 and continued to use the cars until their retirement in 2018. The Superliner, based on the Hi-Level concept, entered service in 1979 and remains in service. (Full article...)

July 9

Little Ferry facility after the fire

On July 9, 1937, fire gutted a film storage facility (pictured) in Little Ferry, New Jersey, rented by the American studio 20th Century-Fox. Flammable nitrate film had previously contributed to several high-profile fires in film industry laboratories, studios, and vaults, although the precise causes were often unknown. In Little Ferry, gases produced by decaying film, subjected to high temperatures and inadequate ventilation, spontaneously combusted. The fire caused one death and two injuries, and destroyed all of the archived film in the vaults, resulting in the complete loss of most of the silent films produced by the Fox Film Corporation before 1932. Also destroyed were negatives from Educational Pictures and films of several other studios. The fire brought attention to the potential for decaying nitrate film to spontaneously ignite, and to the need for fire safety in film preservation. Production and use of nitrate film were gradually phased out in favor of safer alternatives. (Full article...)

July 10

Reverse of the 1951 farthing

Historically, the British farthing was a continuation of the English farthing, a coin struck by English monarchs prior to the Act of Union 1707 that was worth a quarter of an old penny (​1960 of a pound sterling). Only pattern farthings were struck under Queen Anne. The coin was struck intermittently through much of the 18th century, but counterfeits became so prevalent the Royal Mint ceased striking them after 1775. The next farthings were the first ones struck by steam power, in 1799 by Matthew Boulton at his Soho Mint. The Royal Mint resumed production in 1821. The farthing was struck regularly under George IV, William IV and in most years of Queen Victoria's long reign. The coin continued to be issued in most years of the first half of the 20th century, and in 1937 it finally received its own design, a wren (pictured). By the 1950s, inflation had eroded its value. It ceased to be struck after 1956 and was demonetised in 1961. (Full article...)

July 11

Payún Matrú

Payún Matrú is a shield volcano in the Malargüe Department of Mendoza Province, Argentina. Activity in its volcanic field commenced at least 2.5 million years ago and continued until about 515 years ago. Payún Matrú lies in the Payenia volcanic province in the back-arc region of the Andean Volcanic Belt, formed by the subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American Plate. The volcano developed over sediments and volcanic rocks ranging from Mesoproterozoic to Tertiary age. It consists of a large shield volcano capped off by a 7–8 km (4.3–5.0 mi) caldera that formed during a large explosive eruption between 168,000 and 82,000 years ago, along with a compound volcano 3,680–3,797 m (12,073–12,457 ft) high, and scoria cones and lava flows due west and east from the main shield volcano. One of these lava flows, the Pleistocene Pampas Onduladas flow, is the longest one in the world from the Quaternary, at 167–181 km (104–112 mi). (Full article...)

July 12

Tricholoma pardinum

Tricholoma pardinum is a gilled mushroom widely distributed across North America and Europe, as well as parts of Asia. It was first officially described by Christiaan Hendrik Persoon in 1801. The imposing fruit bodies (mushrooms) of T. pardinum appear in beech woodland in summer and autumn. The pale grey cap, up to 15 cm (6 in) in diameter, is covered with dark brownish to greyish scales. The gills are whitish, and are not attached to the stout white to pale grey-brown stalk. The spore print is white. One of the more toxic members of the genus Tricholoma, the species has been implicated in many episodes of mushroom poisoning, probably because it is a large, attractive mushroom with a pleasant smell and taste, and it bears a superficial resemblance to several edible species, like Tricholoma terreum. Ingesting T. pardinum—even in small quantities—results in a severe, persistent gastroenteritis caused by an unknown mycotoxin. (Full article...)

July 13

Novel from which Si Tjonat was adapted
Novel from which Si Tjonat was adapted

Si Tjonat is a 1929 bandit film from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). The silent film was directed by Nelson Wong and produced by Wong and Jo Eng Sek. It was shot in black and white and starred Ku Fung May and Herman Sim. Based on the novel (cover pictured) by F. D. J. Pangemanann, it follows an indigenous man who flees to Batavia (today Jakarta) and becomes a bandit after killing his fellow villager. After kidnapping an ethnic Chinese woman, he is defeated and brought to justice. The story had proved popular with ethnic Chinese readers and was often adapted to the stage by Betawi troupes as a lenong stage performance, but the film received mixed reviews. Although it was intended as a serial, no sequel was ever made; the production house, Batavia Motion Picture, closed soon afterwards. Several works in the same genre as Si Tjonat were released, including Si Pitoeng in 1931, which used the same director and star. The film has probably been lost. (Full article...)

July 14

Roy Inwood

Roy Inwood (14 July 1890 – 23 October 1971) was a World War I Australian soldier and recipient of the Victoria Cross. Landing at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, in April 1915 with the 10th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force, he fought until being evacuated sick to Egypt in September. He rejoined his unit on the Western Front before the Battle of Mouquet Farm in August 1916. In 1917 he fought in the Battle of Lagnicourt and the Second Battle of Bullecourt. His Victoria Cross was awarded for actions in the Battle of Menin Road, including eliminating a German machine-gun post. In World War II, he volunteered to serve in the Citizens Military Forces, reaching the rank of warrant officer I serving in the Australian Provost Corps and Military Prison and Detention Barracks Service. After the war he returned to work with the City of Adelaide, and on his death he was buried with full military honours in the AIF Cemetery, West Terrace. His medals are displayed in the Adelaide Town Hall. (Full article...)

July 15

No. 37 Squadron C-130E Hercules
No. 37 Squadron C-130E Hercules

No. 37 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) medium tactical airlift squadron. It operates Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules aircraft from RAAF Base Richmond, New South Wales. The squadron has seen active service flying transport aircraft during World War II, the Vietnam War, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the military intervention against ISIL. It has also supported Australian operations in Somalia, East Timor, Bali, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. The squadron was formed at RAAF Station Laverton, Victoria, in July 1943 and became part of No. 86 (Transport) Wing in 1946, but was disbanded two years later. In response to Australia's air transport needs during the Vietnam War, the squadron was re-formed in February 1966, equipped with the C-130E Hercules (pictured). It converted to the C-130J model in 1999. No. 37 Squadron came under the control of a re-formed No. 86 Wing from 1987 until 2010, when it was transferred to No. 84 Wing. (Full article...)

July 16

K-25 gaseous diffusion plant
K-25 gaseous diffusion plant

K-25 was the Manhattan Project codename for the program that produced enriched uranium for atomic bombs using the gaseous diffusion method at the Clinton Engineer Works in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in the United States. When the production facility was built in 1944, the four-story gaseous diffusion plant (pictured) was the world's largest building, with over 152,000 square metres (1,640,000 sq ft) of floor space. At the height of construction, over 25,000 workers were employed on the site. Slightly enriched uranium from the S-50 thermal diffusion plant in the form of the highly corrosive uranium hexafluoride was fed into the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant; its product in turn was fed into the Y-12 electromagnetic plant. The enriched uranium was used in the Little Boy atomic bomb used in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Production of enriched uranium ended in 1964, gaseous diffusion ceased in 1985, and demolition of the facility was completed in 2017. (This article is part of a featured topic: History of the Manhattan Project.)

July 17

SMS Derfflinger

SMS Derfflinger was a battlecruiser of the German Kaiserliche Marine built in the early 1910s, the lead vessel of the Derfflinger class. The ships were larger than the previous German battlecruisers, and featured significant improvements. Derfflinger served in I Scouting Group during the war and took part in attacks on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby in 1914 and Yarmouth and Lowestoft in 1916, as well as the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915 and the Battle of Jutland in 1916. At Jutland, Derfflinger helped to sink the British battlecruisers Queen Mary and Invincible, but was seriously damaged herself. Derfflinger saw little activity for the remainder of the war and she was interned with the rest of the High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow following the armistice in November 1918. Under the orders of Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, the interned ships were scuttled on 21 June 1919. (This article is part of a featured topic: Battlecruisers of the world.)

July 18

Tukwila International Boulevard station

Tukwila International Boulevard is a light rail station in Tukwila, Washington, United States. It is located between SeaTac/Airport and Rainier Beach stations on the Red Line from Seattle–Tacoma International Airport to Downtown Seattle. The station consists of two elevated side platforms enclosed within a structure northeast of the interchange of State Route 99 (International Boulevard) and State Route 518. Tukwila International Boulevard station opened on July 18, 2009, on the first day of Central Link service (now part of the Red Line). Trains serve the station twenty hours a day on most days; the headway between trains is six minutes during peak periods, with less frequent service at other times. The station is also served by King County Metro bus routes, including two RapidRide limited-stop bus rapid transit routes, and has 600 parking spaces in two lots. (Full article...)

July 19

David Hillhouse Buel

David Hillhouse Buel (July 19, 1862 – May 23, 1923) was an American priest who became the president of Georgetown University. Born at Watervliet Arsenal, New York, to a distinguished family, he converted to Catholicism under the guidance of Michael McGivney, while a student at Yale University. He entered the Jesuit order in 1883, spending the next 17 years studying and teaching at Jesuit institutions throughout the Northeastern United States; he was ordained a Catholic priest in 1898. Buel then became a professor at Georgetown University, and was appointed its president in 1905. While in office, he curtailed intercollegiate athletics and instituted strict discipline, prompting resistance from students and parents, and his removal in 1908. He quit the Jesuit order several years later and secretly married in 1912, resulting in an outcry from his former Jesuit colleagues. He later left the Catholic Church, and in 1922 was ordained an Episcopal priest. (Full article...)

July 20

Aldrin photographed by Armstrong on the Moon
Aldrin photographed by Armstrong on the Moon

Apollo 11 was an American spaceflight mission, the first to land astronauts on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin set the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle down on July 20, 1969, at 20:17 UTC. Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC; Aldrin (pictured) joined him 19 minutes later. They spent about two and a quarter hours together outside the spacecraft, and collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material to bring back to Earth. While they were on the Moon's surface, Michael Collins flew the command module Columbia alone in lunar orbit. Armstrong's first step onto the lunar surface was broadcast on live TV to a worldwide audience. He described the event as "one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind". Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21.5 hours on the lunar surface before rejoining Columbia in lunar orbit. The astronauts returned to Earth and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24. (Full article...)

July 21

Little Tich, 1893.jpg

Harry Relph (21 July 1867 – 10 February 1928), professionally known as Little Tich, was a 4-foot-6-inch (137 cm) English music hall comedian and dancer during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was best known for his acrobatic and comedic Big-Boot Dance, for which he wore boots with soles 28 inches (71 cm) long. He was also a popular performer in theatrical Christmas pantomimes. During a tour of the United States between 1887 and 1889 he impressed audiences with his ability to stand on the tips of his shoes and to lean at extraordinary angles. He had a major success with Babes in the Wood in Manchester during the 1889–90 season, and in the 1890s he developed the Serpentine Dance. The impresario Augustus Harris hired him to appear alongside Dan Leno and Marie Lloyd at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in its spectacular Christmas pantomimes Humpty Dumpty in 1891, Little Bo Peep in 1892 and Robinson Crusoe in 1893. (Full article...)

July 22

Don Bradman
Don Bradman

The Fourth Test of the 1948 Ashes series was one of five Tests in a cricket series between Australia and England. Played at Headingley Stadium at Leeds from 22 to 27 July, for the third time in a row the match set a new record for the highest attendance at a Test in England. On the last day, Australia, captained by Don Bradman (pictured), had a target of 404 to make up, and England had used a heavy roller to break up the pitch to make batting harder. Although many observers predicted that England would win easily on a deteriorating surface, Australia put together a stand of 301 in only 217 minutes, aided by erratic bowling and several missed catches and stumpings. Australia won the match by seven wickets with 15 minutes remaining to take an unassailable 3–0 series lead. In successfully chasing a target of 404, they set a new world record for the highest victorious runchase in Test history. (This article is part of a featured topic: Australian cricket team in England in 1948.)

July 23

John Leak c. 1916

John Leak (c. 1892 – 1972) was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in battle that could be awarded at that time to a member of the Australian armed forces. Leak enlisted in early 1915, and served with the 9th Battalion during the Gallipoli campaign of World War I. Along with his unit, he transferred to the Western Front, where he participated in the Battle of Pozières in July 1916. For his actions on 23 July during this battle he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was seriously wounded at the Battle of Mouquet Farm in August. Suffering from the effects of his service, Leak was convicted of desertion in November 1917, but his sentence was ultimately suspended. In early March 1918 he was gassed, and saw no further combat before the Armistice of 11 November 1918. He returned to Australia and was discharged in 1919. After various jobs, Leak settled in South Australia in 1937 and died in 1972. (Full article...)

July 24

Tia Mowry
Tia Mowry

Melanie Barnett is a fictional character on the American sitcom The Game, which aired on The CW and BET from 2006 to 2015. Portrayed by actress Tia Mowry (pictured), Melanie was introduced in a backdoor pilot on the sitcom Girlfriends as the cousin of Joan Clayton (Tracee Ellis Ross). Melanie chooses to support the career of her boyfriend Derwin Davis (Pooch Hall), a National Football League player, rather than attend medical school at Johns Hopkins University. The series focuses primarily on Melanie and Derwin's complicated relationship and her fears of his infidelity. Mowry left the series in 2012 upon learning that Hall had decided to leave the show and her role would be reduced. Both actors reprised their roles in the series finale. Mowry's performance received positive feedback from critics, who agreed that the role displayed her maturity as an actress. She received nominations for two NAACP Image Awards and a Teen Choice Award for the role. (Full article...)

July 25

American forces in Coutances, France, during Operation Cobra
American forces in Coutances,
France, during Operation Cobra

Operation Cobra was an offensive launched by the First United States Army under Omar Bradley against the German 7th Army commanded by Paul Hausser in the Cotentin Peninsula during the Normandy campaign of World War II. The attack commenced on 25 July 1944, having been delayed several times by poor weather. Supporting offensives had drawn the bulk of German armored reserves toward the British and Canadian sectors, and the lack of men and materiel available to the Germans meant they were unable to form successive lines of defense. After a slow start the offensive gathered momentum and by 27 July most organized resistance had been overcome and the Americans advanced rapidly. The German response was ineffectual and the entire Normandy front soon collapsed. Operation Cobra, together with concurrent offensives by the British Second Army and the Canadian First Army, was decisive in securing an Allied victory in the Normandy campaign and the loss of the German position in northwestern France. (Full article...)

July 26

Carlos Castillo Armas

Carlos Castillo Armas (November 4, 1914 – July 26, 1957) was a military officer and the 28th president of Guatemala. He came to power in a 1954 coup d'état backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency that overthrew the democratically elected President Jacobo Árbenz, and consolidated his position in an October 1954 election in which he was the only candidate. A member of the right-wing National Liberation Movement party, he was also the first of a series of authoritarian rulers in Guatemala who were close allies of the United States. Under Castillo Armas, the reforms of the Guatemalan Revolution were largely undone. Land was confiscated from small farmers and returned to large landowners, and thousands of people were arrested, tortured, or killed under suspicion of being communists. In 1957 Castillo Armas was assassinated by a presidential guard. His policies sparked a series of leftist insurgencies culminating in the Guatemalan Civil War, which lasted from 1960 to 1996. (Full article...)

July 27

Lancaster's childhood home on Elgin Crescent with a blue plaque
Lancaster's childhood home on
Elgin Crescent with a blue plaque

Osbert Lancaster (4 August 1908 – 27 July 1986) was an English cartoonist, architectural historian and stage designer. He became known in the 1930s for his books on architecture, aiming to amuse the general reader while demystifying the subject. Several of the terms he coined as labels for architectural styles such as "Pont Street Dutch" have gained common usage, and his books have continued to be regarded as important works of reference on the subject. In the Daily Express from 1938 to 1981 he drew the "pocket cartoons", a form he introduced to Britain. They featured a cast of regular characters, led by his best-known creation, Maudie Littlehampton, through whom he expressed his views on the fashions, fads and political events of the day. In 1951 he was commissioned to create costumes and scenery for a new ballet, Pineapple Poll. Between then and the early 1970s he designed new productions for the Royal Ballet, Glyndebourne, D'Oyly Carte, the Old Vic and the West End. (Full article...)

July 28

Life restoration of E. platyurus
Life restoration of E. platyurus

Elasmosaurus was a large marine reptile in the order Plesiosauria. The genus lived about 80.5 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous. The first specimen was sent to the American paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope after its discovery in 1867 near Fort Wallace, Kansas. Only one incomplete skeleton is definitely known, consisting of a fragmentary skull, the spine, and the pectoral and pelvic girdles, and a single species, E. platyurus, is recognized today. Measuring 10.3 meters (34 ft) long, the genus had a streamlined body with paddle-like limbs or flippers, a short tail, and a small, slender, triangular head. With a neck around 7.1 meters (23 ft) long, Elasmosaurus was one of the longest-necked animals to have lived, with the largest number of neck vertebrae known, 72. It probably ate small fish and marine invertebrates, seizing them with long teeth. Elasmosaurus is known from the Pierre Shale formation, which represents marine deposits from the Western Interior Seaway. (Full article...)

July 29

Eris and its moon Dysnomia
Eris and its moon Dysnomia

Eris is the second-largest known dwarf planet in the Solar System, slightly smaller by volume than the dwarf planet Pluto, although it is 27 percent more massive. Discovered in January 2005 by a team based at Palomar Observatory, it was named after Eris, the Greek goddess of strife and discord. The ninth-most-massive object directly orbiting the Sun, Eris is the largest object in the Solar System that has not been visited by a spacecraft. It is a member of a high-eccentricity population known as the scattered disk and has one known moon, Dysnomia. It is about 96 astronomical units (14.4 billion kilometres; 8.9 billion miles) from the Sun, roughly three times as far away as Pluto. Except for some long-period comets, Eris and Dysnomia were the most distant known natural objects in the Solar System until 2018 VG18 was discovered in 2018. Observations of a stellar occultation by Eris in 2010 showed that its diameter was 2,326 ± 12 kilometers (1,445.3 ± 7.5 mi). (Full article...)

July 30

Ceilings of the Central Hall at the Natural History Museum, London

The decorated ceilings of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London, were designed by the museum's architect Alfred Waterhouse, and were unveiled at the building's opening in 1881. The ceiling of the large Central Hall (pictured) consists of 162 panels, 108 of which depict plants considered significant to the history of the museum, to the British Empire or to the museum's visitors. The remaining 54 are highly stylised decorative botanical paintings. The ceiling of the smaller North Hall consists of 36 panels, 18 of which depict plants growing in the British Isles. Both ceilings make extensive use of gilding for visual effect. Built of lath and plaster to save costs, the ceilings are unusually fragile and require extensive maintenance and restoration. Since 2016 the skeleton of a blue whale has been suspended from the ceiling of the Central Hall. (Full article...)

July 31

Subfossil remains of a Rodrigues rail

The Rodrigues rail (Erythromachus leguati) was a flightless bird endemic to the Mascarene island of Rodrigues, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The rail was described as having grey plumage, a red beak and legs, and a naked red patch around the eye. The bird fed on tortoise eggs. It was described as being attracted to red objects, which humans exploited while hunting it. The Rodrigues rail is believed to have become extinct in the mid-18th century because of predation by introduced cats and destruction of its habitat by tortoise hunters. The bird was first documented from life by two contemporaneous accounts, first by François Leguat, a French Huguenot refugee marooned on Rodrigues in 1691, and then by Julien Tafforet, marooned on the island in 1726. Subfossil remains (pictured) were later discovered and connected with the old accounts in 1874, and the species was named E. leguati in Leguat's honour. (Full article...)