Wikipedia:Today's featured article/October 2020

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October 1

Kagame and Habyarimana
Kagame and Habyarimana

The Rwandan Civil War was a conflict between the Hutu-led Rwandan Armed Forces and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), founded by Tutsi refugees. The war began on 1 October 1990 with an RPF invasion but the army, assisted by French troops, had largely defeated the RPF by the end of the month. Paul Kagame (pictured, left) took command of the rebels and in a few months began a multi-year guerrilla war. In 1992, after a series of protests, Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana (pictured, right) began peace negotiations with the RPF and domestic opposition parties. Despite disruption by the extremist group Hutu Power and a fresh RPF offensive, the Arusha Accords were signed in August 1993. United Nations peacekeepers were installed, but Hutu Power was steadily gaining influence. After the assassination of Habyarimana in April 1994, between half a million and a million Tutsi and moderate Hutu were killed in the Rwandan genocide. The RPF quickly resumed the war, capturing the capital and taking control of the country by July. (Full article...)


October 2

Male vermilion flycatcher
Male vermilion flycatcher

The vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus obscurus) is a tyrant flycatcher found in South America and southern North America. The male (pictured) has a bright red crown and underparts, and brownish wings and tail; females lack the red coloration. The male's chirpy song is used in establishing a territory in riparian or semi-open habitat. Insects are caught in flight. Although monogamous, females may lay their eggs in another pair's nest, and extra-pair copulation occurs. Females build cup nests and are fed by the male while they incubate the two to three speckled whitish eggs; two broods are laid in a season. Both parents feed the chicks, which are ready to fledge after fifteen days. A long molt begins in summer. The species was first described from specimens caught by Charles Darwin. The taxonomy of the genus was revised in 2016, creating several new species from this flycatcher's former subspecies. Populations have declined because of habitat loss, although numbers remain in the millions. (Full article...)


October 3

Antiochus XI on the obverse of a tetradrachm
Antiochus XI on the obverse of a tetradrachm

Antiochus XI Epiphanes (died 93 BC) was a Seleucid monarch who reigned as King of Syria in 94–93 BC, during the Hellenistic period. He ruled at a time of civil war, waged by several claimants to the throne. At first a follower of his eldest brother Seleucus VI, Antiochus XI declared himself king jointly with his twin Philip I after Seleucus VI was killed in 94 BC by a cousin, Antiochus X. The twins destroyed the city of Mopsuestia, whose citizens played a part in Seleucus VI's death, then marched on the Syrian capital Antioch and expelled Antiochus X in 93 BC. Though unrecorded by ancient historians, the reign of Antiochus XI as a senior king in Antioch is confirmed through numismatic evidence (coin pictured). Philip I kept his royal title and remained in Cilicia. In the autumn of the same year, Antiochus X regrouped and counterattacked; Antiochus XI drowned in the Orontes River as he tried to flee. (Full article...)


October 4

Joseph A. Lopez portrait.jpg

Joseph A. Lopez (October 4, 1779 – October 5, 1841) was a Mexican Catholic priest who became a prominent ally of Emperor Agustín de Iturbide. As a priest in Peribán, he tried to arrest the first leader of the Mexican War of Independence, Miguel Hidalgo. Unsuccessful, he fled and became acquainted with Ana María Huarte, the wife of the future emperor of Mexico, Agustín de Iturbide. As a result, he was sent to Madrid to act as Iturbide's attorney and political informant, before returning to Mexico as chaplain and educator of the imperial family. He fled with the exiled family to Europe in 1823, and then returned to Mexico. Following Iturbide's execution in 1824, Lopez fled with the family to Washington, D.C., where he became chaplain to the Georgetown Visitation Monastery, and became a Jesuit. In 1840, Lopez was named the acting president of Georgetown University, becoming the first Latin American president of a university in the United States. He soon fell ill and was sent to St. Inigoes, Maryland, where he died. (Full article...)


October 5

Dresden in the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal
Dresden in the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal

SMS Dresden was a German light cruiser, armed with ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) SK L/40 guns and two torpedo tubes, launched in October 1907. Dresden visited the United States in 1909 during the Hudson–Fulton Celebration, before serving in the High Seas Fleet. In 1913, she was assigned to the Mediterranean Division, then sent to the Caribbean. At the onset of World War I, Dresden operated as a commerce raider in South American waters in the Atlantic, then moved to the Pacific Ocean and joined the German East Asia Squadron. Dresden saw action in the Battle of Coronel in November 1914, and at the Battle of the Falkland Islands in December, where she was the only German warship to elude the British. In March 1915, when she was almost out of coal and her engines were worn out, her captain attempted to have the ship interned by Chile at Robinson Crusoe Island. British cruisers violated Chilean neutrality and opened fire on the ship in the Battle of Más a Tierra and the Germans scuttled Dresden. (Full article...)


October 6

Banksia petiolaris2 email.jpg

Banksia petiolaris is a species of flowering plant of the family Proteaceae native to Western Australia, where it is found in sandy soils in the south coastal regions from Munglinup east to Israelite Bay. It was first described by the botanist Ferdinand von Mueller in 1864. B. petiolaris grows as a prostrate shrub, with horizontal stems and thick, leathery upright leaves. The leaves can be viable for up to 13 years—the longest-lived of any flowering plant recorded. Yellow cylindrical flower spikes (pictured), up to 16 cm (6 14 in) high, appear in spring. As the spikes age, they turn grey and develop up to 20 woody seed pods each, known as follicles. Insects such as bees, wasps and ants pollinate the flowers. B. petiolaris regenerates by seed after bushfire. The species adapts readily to cultivation, growing in well-drained sandy soils in sunny locations. It is suitable for rockeries and as a groundcover. (Full article...)


October 7

Kelsey Grammer
Kelsey Grammer

"Cape Feare" is the second episode in the fifth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. Originally aired on the Fox network on October 7, 1993, it features the return of guest star Kelsey Grammer (pictured) as Sideshow Bob, who tries to kill Bart Simpson after getting out of jail. "Cape Feare" is a spoof of the 1962 film Cape Fear and its 1991 remake, which in turn are based on John D. MacDonald's 1957 novel The Executioners. The episode was written by Jon Vitti and directed by Rich Moore. The production crew added several scenes after finding it difficult to fill the half-hour slot. In one sequence, Sideshow Bob is hit in the face repeatedly by rakes that he steps on; this scene has been cited as one of the show's most memorable moments. Cast member Hank Azaria called this episode his favorite in the series. The musical score earned composer Alf Clausen an Emmy Award nomination. (Full article...)


October 8

Obverse of a 1967 florin
Obverse of a 1967 florin

The British florin, or two-shilling coin, was issued from 1849 until 1967, with a final issue for collectors dated 1970. Valued at one tenth of a pound (24 old pence), it was introduced in 1849 as part of an experiment in decimalisation that went no further at that time. The original florins attracted controversy for omitting a reference to God from Queen Victoria's titles; that type is accordingly known as the "Godless florin", and was in 1851 succeeded by the "Gothic florin", named for its design and style of lettering. Throughout most of its existence, the florin bore some variation of either the shields of the United Kingdom or the emblems of its constituent nations. In 1968, in preparation for Decimal Day, the Royal Mint began issuing the ten-pence piece, identical to the florin in specifications and value. Both coins remained in circulation until 1993, when the ten pence piece was made smaller, and the florin was demonetised. (Full article...)


October 9

Periodic-table cell for hassium

Hassium is a highly radioactive chemical element with symbol Hs and atomic number 108. The most stable known isotopes have half-lives of around 10 seconds. Natural occurrences of this superheavy element have been hypothesised, but none has ever been found. The first attempts to artificially prepare element 108 by nuclear fusion began in 1978 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in the Soviet Union; though likely successful by 1984, these experiments did not prove conclusively that the element had been synthesised. For this reason, the discovery is principally credited to a team led by Peter Armbruster and Gottfried Münzenberg at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung who bombarded lead-208 with iron-58 and produced hassium-265. The name hassium was selected as a reference to the German state of Hesse, where the research was conducted. The observed chemical properties of hassium are consistent with its expected placement as the group 8 element in period 7 of the periodic table. (Full article...)


October 10

The Naval Battle Near Ecnomus (256 BC) by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin

The Battle of Cape Ecnomus was a naval battle fought off the coast of Sicily in 256 BC between the fleets of Carthage and the Roman Republic during the First Punic War (264–241 BC). The Carthaginian fleet was commanded by Hanno the Great and Hamilcar; the Roman fleet was led by the consuls for the year, Marcus Atilius Regulus and Lucius Manlius Vulso Longus. The Roman fleet of 330 warships sailed with approximately 140,000 men on board. The Romans' plan was to cross to Africa and invade the Carthaginian homeland, in what is now Tunisia. The Carthaginians were apparently aware of the Romans' intentions and mustered 350 warships off the south coast of Sicily to intercept them. With a combined total of about 680 warships carrying up to 290,000 crew and marines, the battle was possibly the largest naval battle in history by the number of combatants involved. After a prolonged and confused day of fighting the Carthaginians were decisively defeated. (Full article...)


October 11

Civic Building in Jerome
Civic Building in Jerome

Jerome is a town in the Black Hills of Yavapai County in the U.S. state of Arizona. Founded in the late 19th century on Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley, it is about 100 miles (160 km) north of Phoenix along State Route 89A between Sedona and Prescott. Supported in its heyday by mines, it was home to more than 10,000 people in the 1920s. The town owes its existence mainly to two ore bodies that formed about 1.75 billion years ago. In the late 19th century, the United Verde Mine, developed by William A. Clark, extracted ore bearing copper, gold, silver, and other metals from the larger of the two deposits. The United Verde Extension UVX Mine, owned by James Douglas Jr., worked the smaller one. The copper deposits discovered in the vicinity of Jerome were among the richest ever found. As the ore deposits ran out, the mines closed, and the population had dwindled to fewer than 100 by the mid-1950s. Jerome became a National Historic Landmark in 1967. (Full article...)


October 12

Gonzalo at peak intensity north of the Greater Antilles
Gonzalo at peak intensity north of the Greater Antilles

Hurricane Gonzalo formed on October 12, 2014, and became the first Category 4 Atlantic hurricane since Hurricane Ophelia in 2011. It made landfall on Antigua, Saint Martin, and Anguilla as a Category 1 hurricane. Antigua and Barbuda sustained US$40 million in losses, and three people died on Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy. Gonzalo intensified into a major hurricane, peaking on October 16 with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 km/h). It struck Bermuda less than a week after the surprisingly fierce Hurricane Fay; the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season was the first in recorded history with two hurricane landfalls in Bermuda. Gonzalo battered the island with wind gusts as high as 144 mph (232 km/h), downing hundreds of trees and causing widespread roof damage and power outages, but no deaths or serious injuries were reported. A large storm system from the remnants of Gonzalo battered the British Isles and central Europe on October 21, killing three people in the United Kingdom. (Full article...)


October 13

Mike Capel (born October 13, 1961) is a former Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher who played for the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, and Houston Astros. In 49 career games, Capel pitched 62.1 innings, struck out 43 batters, and had a career win–loss record of 3–4 with a 4.62 earned run average. A starting pitcher in college and parts of his Minor League Baseball career, he converted to relief pitching while in Chicago's minor league system. The Philadelphia Phillies chose Capel in the 24th round of the 1980 Major League Baseball draft, but instead of signing with the team, he opted to attend the University of Texas. He played on the 1982 USA College All-Star Team, which placed third in the Amateur World Series in Seoul. The next year, Capel and the Texas Longhorns won the College World Series. After he was drafted by the Cubs, Capel left Texas and played in six seasons of the minor leagues before he made his major league debut in 1988. (Full article...)


October 14

Eastern green mamba

The eastern green mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps) is a highly venomous snake native to the coastal regions of southern East Africa. First described by Scottish surgeon and zoologist Andrew Smith in 1849, the mamba has a slender build with bright green upperparts and yellow-green underparts. The adult female averages around 2.0 metres (6.6 ft) in length, and the male is slightly smaller. A shy and elusive species, it is rarely seen; its green colouration blends with its arboreal environment. It has been observed to lie in wait like many vipers instead of actively foraging. The eastern green mamba preys on birds, eggs, bats, and rodents such as mice, rats, and gerbils. Its venom consists of both neurotoxins and cardiotoxins. Symptoms in humans can include swelling of the bite site, dizziness and nausea, accompanied by difficulty breathing and swallowing, irregular heartbeat and convulsions. The most severe bites can quickly be fatal. (Full article...)


October 15

Actor dressed as Master Chief at Nasdaq
Actor dressed as Master Chief at Nasdaq

Master Chief is a major character in the Halo multimedia franchise. First appearing in the 2001 video game Halo: Combat Evolved, he is the playable character and protagonist of many of the games in the franchise, and makes additional appearances in spin-offs, novels, and comics. In the story, Master Chief is abducted as a child and raised by the military to fight against human rebels. He and his fellow Spartan supersoldiers instead become humanity's best weapon in the fight against a genocidal collective of alien races known as the Covenant. The character is voiced by Steve Downes. Master Chief was originally designed to be a faceless avatar whom players could inhabit while playing the games, but the relationship between him and his artificial intelligence companion Cortana has become a central part of the franchise. Master Chief serves as a mascot for the Xbox brand, and has been described as an iconic character in gaming culture. (Full article...)


October 16

Title page of the first volume
Title page of the first volume

A History of the Birds of Europe, including all the Species inhabiting the Western Palearctic Region is a nine-volume ornithological book published in parts between 1871 and 1882. It is mainly written by Henry Eeles Dresser, although Richard Bowdler Sharpe co-authored the earlier volumes. The book describes all the bird species reliably recorded in the wild in Europe and adjacent geographical areas with similar fauna, giving their worldwide distribution, variations in appearance and migratory movements. It was published as 84 quarto parts, each typically containing 56 pages of text and eight plates of illustrations, the latter mainly by the Dutch artist John Gerrard Keulemans, and bound into permanent volumes when all the parts were published. In total, 339 copies were made, at a cost to each subscriber of £52 10s. Birds of Europe was well received by its contemporary reviewers, although Dresser's outdated views and the cost of his books meant that in the long run his works had limited influence. (Full article...)


October 17

George Thomson
George Thomson

Tube Alloys was the code name of the United Kingdom's research-and-development programme, with participation from Canada, to develop nuclear weapons during the Second World War. A 1940 memorandum on the possibility of a nuclear weapon led to the formation early in the war of the MAUD Committee, chaired by George Thomson (pictured), which called for an all-out development effort. Due to the high costs and the potential threat from German bombers, Tube Alloys was subsumed into the Manhattan Project by the Quebec Agreement. The British contribution to the Manhattan Project was crucial, but the United States did not provide complete details to the United Kingdom. The Soviet Union gained valuable information through its atomic spies, who had infiltrated both the British and American projects. After the war, the United States terminated co-operation with the enactment of the Atomic Energy Act of 1946. This prompted the United Kingdom to relaunch its own project: High Explosive Research. (Full article...)


October 18

Canada lynx

The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) is a medium-sized North American cat breeding across Alaska, Canada and much of the contiguous United States. It has long, dense fur, triangular ears with black tufts, and broad paws. It is a good swimmer and climber. A specialist predator, the lynx depends heavily on snowshoe hares for food, which leads to a prey–predator cycle, as populations of the two species respond to each other. The lynx hunts at twilight or at night, ambushing hares and killing them by biting the head or throat. After a gestation period of two to three months, up to eight kittens are born which are weaned at three months. This lynx occurs predominantly in dense boreal forests, its range coinciding with that of the hare. Given its abundance and no severe threats, the Canada lynx is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. It is regularly trapped for the international fur trade in most of Alaska and Canada but is protected in the south due to threats such as habitat loss. (Full article...)


October 19

V. Gordon Childe

V. Gordon Childe (1892–1957) was an Australian archaeologist who specialised in the study of European prehistory. He spent most of his life in the United Kingdom, working as an academic for the University of Edinburgh and then the Institute of Archaeology, London, and wrote twenty-six books during his career. Initially an early proponent of culture-historical archaeology, he later became the first exponent of Marxist archaeology in the Western world. Childe studied classics at the University of Sydney before moving to England to study classical archaeology at the University of Oxford. In 1921 he became librarian of the Royal Anthropological Institute and journeyed across Europe to pursue his research into the continent's prehistory. He co-founded The Prehistoric Society in 1934 and was its first president. In a 1935 presidential address he argued that a Neolithic Revolution initiated the Neolithic era, and that other revolutions marked the start of the Bronze and Iron Ages. (Full article...)


October 20

Stucky is a term used to denote the pairing of Steve Rogers (Captain America) and James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes (the Winter Soldier), fictional characters appearing in comic books and related media produced by Marvel Comics. It is a manifestation of shipping, a phenomenon in fandom wherein individuals create fan works that depict a romantic or sexual relationship between two characters; Stucky is an example of slash, a genre of fan works that focus on same-sex characters. Following shipping naming conventions, Stucky is a portmanteau of "Steve" and "Bucky". Though Rogers and Barnes have appeared in media dating to the 1940s, Stucky fan works grew substantially in popularity in the 2010s following appearances by the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Critics and commentators have used the popularity of Stucky in fandom to remark on a range of topics, including the lack of LGBT characters in superhero films and the nature of fandom on social media. (Full article...)


October 21

Hirudo medicinalis sucking blood
Hirudo medicinalis sucking blood

Leeches are segmented parasitic or predatory worms of the subclass Hirudinea in the phylum Annelida. Like earthworms, they have soft, muscular, segmented bodies that can lengthen and contract, but the coelom, the body cavity that can be spacious in other annelids, is reduced to small channels, and they typically have suckers at both ends. Most leeches live in freshwater habitats, though some species can be found in terrestrial or marine environments. A minority of leech species prey on small invertebrates, but most are hematophagous, attaching themselves to a host with a sucker and feeding on blood. They were used in medicine from ancient times until the 19th century to draw blood from patients. In modern times, leeches have been used in microsurgery and in the treatment of extremity vein diseases and joint diseases such as epicondylitis and osteoarthritis. Hirudin, an anticoagulant drug they secrete, has been used to treat blood-clotting disorders. (Full article...)

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October 22

Australian soldiers with captured Japanese flag
Australian soldiers with captured Japanese flag

The Battle of Goodenough Island was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II fought between 22 and 27 October 1942. Japanese forces had been stranded on Goodenough Island, Papua, during the Battle of Milne Bay. Aircraft and ships headed from Milne Bay to Buna and vice versa had to pass close to Goodenough Island, and a presence on the island could provide warning of enemy operations. The island also had flat areas suitable for the construction of emergency airstrips. The Allies attacked the island prior to the Buna campaign. A force consisting of the Australian 2/12th Battalion and attached units landed on the southern tip at Mud Bay and Taleba Bay on 22 October and, following a short but heavy fight, during which the Australians found it difficult to advance, the Japanese forces withdrew to Fergusson Island on 27 October. The island was developed by the Allies after the battle and became a major base for operations later in the war. (Full article...)

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October 23

Swansea Castle, where Cragh was held before his execution
Swansea Castle, where Cragh was held before his execution

William Cragh (born c. 1262, died after 1307) was a medieval Welsh warrior and supporter of Rhys ap Maredudd in his rebellion against King Edward I of England. Captured in 1290, Cragh was tried and found guilty of having killed thirteen men. He was hanged just outside Swansea twice, as the gallows collapsed during his first hanging. Signs of life were noticed the next day, and in a few weeks he had made a full recovery; he lived for at least another eighteen years. The main primary source for Cragh's story is the record of the investigation into the canonisation of Thomas de Cantilupe, which is held in the Vatican Library. Cragh's resurrection was one of thirty-eight miracles presented to the papal commissioners who in 1307 were charged with examining the evidence for Cantilupe's saintliness. The hanged man himself gave evidence to the commission, after which nothing more is known of him. (Full article...)


October 24

Cover of the June 1958 issue
Cover of the June 1958 issue

Super-Science Fiction was an American digest science fiction magazine published from 1956 to 1959, edited by W. W. Scott and published by Feature Publications. Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison were already selling crime stories to Scott for his other magazines, Trapped and Guilty, and started bringing him scores of science fiction stories as well. Many of the magazine's stories were sent in by literary agents, and generally comprised material rejected by other magazines first, though Scott did obtain two stories from Isaac Asimov. After a couple of years Feature switched the focus to monster stories, hoping to cash in on the trend that was making Famous Monsters of Filmland a success at that time, and four more issues appeared before Super-Science Fiction was discontinued in 1959. The magazine is not highly regarded by critics, though Silverberg considers the material he wrote for Scott to have helped him learn his trade as a writer. (Full article...)


October 25

Soultaker is an American fantasy horror film written by Vivian Schilling and directed by Michael Rissi, released on October 26, 1990. It stars Joe Estevez in the title role, alongside Schilling, Gregg Thomsen, Chuck Williams, Robert Z'Dar, and David "Shark" Fralick. The film follows a group of young adults who try to flee from the Soultaker when their souls are ejected from their bodies after a car accident. Inspired by discussions with Action International Pictures producer Eric Parkinson, the script was based on a real-life car accident Schilling was involved in. The film was shot in five weeks on a $250,000 budget. Originally planned for a direct-to-video release, it saw limited theatrical screenings, with eight prints distributed in United States. Since its release, the film has received negative reviews, but won the Saturn Award for "Best Genre Video Release" in 1992. A sequel was planned but never made, and Schilling turned its premise into a novel titled Quietus, published in 2002. Soultaker was featured in the tenth-season premiere episode of the comedy television series Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1999. (Full article...)


October 26

William Anderson, circa summer 1864

William Anderson (1840 – October 26, 1864), known as "Bloody Bill" Anderson, was one of the deadliest and most notorious pro-Confederate guerrilla leaders of the American Civil War, leading a band of volunteer partisans who targeted Union loyalists and federal soldiers in Missouri and Kansas. After his father was killed by a Union loyalist judge during the war, Anderson killed the judge and fled to Missouri where he robbed travelers and killed several Union soldiers. In 1863 he took a leading role in the Lawrence massacre and later participated in the Battle of Baxter Springs. By 1864 Anderson was the leader of a group of raiders in Missouri. In September 1864, he led a raid on the town of Centralia, where his men captured a passenger train; they executed 24 unarmed Union soldiers in the Centralia Massacre. Later that day they killed more than a hundred Union militiamen in an ambush. Anderson died in battle a month later. (Full article...)


October 27

John Charles was a regular player in the 1950s.
John Charles was a regular player in the 1950s.

The first game in the history of the Wales national football team was in 1876, making Wales the third-oldest side in international association football, after Scotland and England. Wales played annual games against Scotland, England, and later Ireland, which became the British Home Championship. Wales won their first championship in the 1906–07 tournament, three more titles during the 1920s, and four in the six years prior to World War II. After the war, Wales played teams from other European nations and began competing in the FIFA World Cup, but failed to qualify in 1950 and 1954. Wales qualified in 1958, being defeated by Brazil in the quarter-final. The side declined in the 1960s, failing to qualify for a World Cup or the European Nations' Cup. Wales won their last British Championship during the 1969–70 season, before the competition was discontinued. Manager Mike Smith led the side to the quarter-finals of the 1976 European Championships in their centenary year, when they were defeated by Yugoslavia. (Full article...)


October 28

Mounted skeleton
Mounted skeleton

Cetiosauriscus was a sauropod dinosaur that lived between 166 and 164 million years ago, during the Middle Jurassic. It was a herbivore with a moderately long tail and long forelimbs, compared to other sauropods. It has been estimated at about 15 metres (49 ft) long and between 4 and 10 tonnes (3.9 and 9.8 long tons; 4.4 and 11.0 short tons) in weight. Its only known fossil includes a hindlimb and most of the rear half of a skeleton. Found in Cambridgeshire, England, in the 1890s, it was described by Arthur Smith Woodward in 1905 as a new specimen of the species Cetiosaurus leedsi, which was moved to the new genus Cetiosauriscus in 1927 by Friedrich von Huene. In 1980, Alan Charig proposed the current name Cetiosauriscus stewarti. The fossil was found in the marine deposits of the Oxford Clay Formation alongside many invertebrate groups, marine ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and crocodylians, a single pterosaur, and various dinosaurs, including an ankylosaur, stegosaurs, and an ornithopod. (Full article...)


October 29

Portrait of Mariana of Austria

Portrait of Mariana of Austria is a 1652 or 1653 oil-on-canvas painting by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age. Its subject, Dona Mariana (known as Maria Anna), was the daughter of Emperor Ferdinand III and Maria Anna of Spain, and was nineteen years old when the painting was completed. Although vivacious and fun-loving in life, she is given an unhappy expression in Velázquez's portrait. The painting is bathed in harmonious shades of black and red, and her face is heavily made up. Her right hand rests on the back of a chair, and she holds a lace handkerchief in her left hand. Her bodice is decorated with jewellery, including a gold necklace, bracelets and a large gold brooch. The clock placed on the scarlet drapery behind her indicates her status. Three full-length versions of the portrait survive, as well as a number of half-length variants. The version in the Museo del Prado (detail pictured) is known to be the original and is dated on the basis of a matching description of a canvas sent to Ferdinand in Vienna in December 1651. (Full article...)


October 30

European storm petrel

The European storm petrel (Hydrobates pelagicus) is a small, square-tailed seabird with a fluttering flight. It is black except for a white rump and a white band under its wings. Most birds breed on islands off western Europe, with a separate subspecies occurring in the Mediterranean. The storm petrel lays a single white egg in a burrow. The adults share incubation and feeding the chick. This bird is oceanic outside the breeding season, wintering off the western coasts of Africa. It feeds on small fish, and can find oily edible items by smell. The chick is fed with an oily liquid regurgitated by the adults. Silent at sea, the storm petrel has a chattering call given during courtship, and the male has a purring song. The storm petrel cannot survive where rats or cats have been introduced, and it is killed by large birds such as gulls. It is classified by the IUCN as being of least concern. Folklore claiming that the bird can foretell or cause bad weather has led to its use as a symbol by some revolutionary groups. (Full article...)


October 31

Bill Kibby

Bill Kibby (15 April 1903 – 31 October 1942) was a British-born Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that could be awarded to a member of the Australian armed forces during World War II. In 1940, Kibby enlisted in the all-volunteer Second Australian Imperial Force and joined the 2/48th Infantry Battalion. He was injured before the Siege of Tobruk, but was with the battalion during the First Battle of El Alamein in July 1942. In October, the battalion was committed to the Second Battle of El Alamein. Between 23 and 31 October, Kibby went forward alone and silenced an enemy machine gun post, mended a telephone line under heavy fire, and pressed forward under withering machine gun fire to help his company capture its objective. After this final action ultimately cost him his life, the Victoria Cross was awarded for his inspirational leadership. (Full article...)