Stromatolites and Pinacles

This weekend I had some spare time to fill in Western Australia so I thought I would take a little drive and check out some of the amazing natural phenomena that abound the ‘Coral Coast’ as this area has been dubbed. With a massively long coastline with warm tropical waters flowing down from the northern Indian Ocean there is a massive variety of sea life including whales (in season), sea lions and so many varieties of sea grass that the coast line is quite putridly fascinating.

So, what is it that I actually went to see? Well an example of the oldest type of living creatures of the world (well slime) which despite being more then 1, 300 million years old can actually be found in quite a few locations around Australia and the world. In one of my little nerding out periods it is interesting to know that Stromatolites and Thromatolites (their very close relative) are communities of bacteria that form large accretions which over time become large rock like structures. These living fossils really don’t look exciting, but when you consider almost identical fossils are the oldest known fossils that is cool.

 

The second part of my adventure was to visit the Pinnacles, which are fascinating limestone structures sticking out of the sand in a desert like part of the coastline. The pinnacles can be best describes as stalamites that have formed in rock by limestone perculating through fissures instead of through the conventional dripping process. But that is enough science I think.

The Day Cicadas Ruled the World

Early this morning a unfamiliar drone filled the air air Alice Springs. Residents left their homes and looked to the skies to see what contraption built by mad scientists at The Base was so influencing their morning routines. However an inspection of their surrounding found that it was the trees themselves that had taken on the role of alarm clock on this humid central Australian morning.

Central Australia might be a desert but it is full of life, in fact it is so packed with life that is pretty hard to leave home without seeing a bird of prey, bearded dragon, kangaroo, tawny frog mouth, nocturnal gecko or backpacker. Today’s natural phenomenon was the arrival of hundreds of thousands of cicadas across every part of town. Crawling out of the ground they ascended any vertical surface they encountered to hatch from the subterranean armour and and take to the skies. Filling the region with the incessant but not displeasing thrum of friction upon inscetoidal abdomens.

 

Every tree and building surface around my office was covered, and I mean covered, in cicadas and their shells.

Cicada Shells. Get your crispy skinned cicada shells. Buy them by the hundred!

okay, I have to admit. I have never seen anything quite so fascinating or disturbing as a cicada emerging from its shell.

It seriously looks weird right?

As they dry the colour of the cicada darkens.

The beautiful “W” on their backs in only visible once the cicada has dried out.