Monday, 28 April 2014

X is for facts of varying sorts... and Xanathoria ...


One X fact ... No Island is an island ... there be land beneath ‘dem seas and oceans ... before the seas formed the earth had just land ... strange but true!
 
No island is an island ... here the land is shown
stretching under the Ocean

2nd X fact:  The English Channel narrows to 34 km (21 miles) at the Straits of Dover. 

Great Britain and northern
Europe with the
Dogger Bank highlighted
in read

About 10,000 years ago Britain was not an island, but an upland region of continental NW Europe ...  the sea-level was about 120 metres (390 feet) lower than today.




... Doggerland, an area in the North Sea, was dry and acted as a land bridge across to the continent, until about 6,500 BC years ago.



As this part of northern Europe
would have appeared approx
10,000 years ago


... Great Britain lies on the European continental shelf ... an extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain ... the shelf varies in depth from about (on Dogger Bank) 49 feet (15 m)  to 390feet (120 m) in the English Channel.






Chesil Beach from the Isle of Portland


3rd X fact:  Chesil Beach, which I mentioned in my H post as an inhospitable shingle beach for flora or fauna ...






... is now thought to be formed from the remnants of the flood of water and sediment that whizzed through from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, leaving us with the body of water known as the English Channel, a result of the  Ice Age melt.  (Rather than a formation known as longshore drift – eg Dungeness, and Orford Ness).

 
Panorama of Chesil Beach and its fleet (lagoon)


4th X fact:  I’ve just found out there are fossilised ripples – so similar to myown picture of the sands at Perranporth at R – dating to about 240 million years ago ...

Fossilised Ripples - wave formation
ending up as fosslised ripples
c/o Southampton University



5th X fact:  The Dutch have about 450 miles of shore to protect ... whereas our shore line is over 7,000 miles – encircling our islands ... an impossibility to put up protective barriers ...



... the Thames Barrier is doing its work for now at the River Thames estuary entrance to London ...

Thames Barrier - the 'gates' are
able to be lowered in storms or
surge times

... but elsewhere we need to work with nature and use those flood plains as they were intended, or working within the rise and fall of sea levels – as has been done at the Somerset Levels ... see my R post (above).





Raised beach on Welsh coast
6th X fact:  We know sea level has always risen and fallen – the coastline shows us raised beaches – featured within the beds of exposed coastline ... 


... some from rising sea levels, at other times exacerbated due to the weight of ice – resulting in land mass tilt: pushed down in the north, raised beaches on the west, south and east shores ...




White Cliffs of Dover as seen
from Cap Gris Nez, France
7th X fact:  Sea-grasses are the only flowering plants in the sea ... these are essential as habitat protection for small marine animals ... the pipe-fish and sea-horses ... the grasses help gather sediment to keep the water healthy ...



8th X fact:  Oysters change from one gender to another and back again, depending on which is best for attracting a mate at that point in time.

 
From Anglesey looking across the
Menai Straits to Snowdonia, Wales
9th X fact:  Puffins are incredible divers and can reach depths of 60 m (197 feet) to catch fish.  They use their wings to propel themselves underwater and can carry several fish at a time back to the surface.


10th X fact:  Our most dangerous sea creature when the warmer currents bring them north to our shores is the Portuguese Man of War ... it has tentacles that can reach 15m (49 feet) in length ...  (J post)

 
Mugdrum Island, Fife -
as seen from Carpow Hill
11th X fact:  Do fish sleep?  Not really as they cannot close their eyes, and some fish never stop moving; however most fish have rest periods, when they just float or nest in a quiet spot, while remaining semi-alert.





12th X fact: humans swim at less than 1 mph (1.6 k/ph), while seals swim at an average speed of 12 mph (19 k/ph) ...


 
Xanthoria Parietina
Then one real X – the Xanthoria parietina ... has the name shore lichen depicting when it grows on rocks near the sea shore line ... it is a versatile lichen growing in damp areas and particularly wherever enriched via bird droppings ...



That is X for many X facts, but even the coasts can give us at least one real X genus, the Xanthoria, a versatile lichen, that are part of the series Aspects of British Coasts ...


I'm having a few problems with my machine .. so if I'm not around ... I'll be back tomorrow (Monday)  after it's fixed ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

32 comments:

kaushikgovind said...

Hi Hilary..All the facts were amazing, especially the 8th fact. Never known it before! The wonders and marvels of nature!!
Cheers ~ Kaushik

Tina said...

Wonderful collection of fascinating facts. I had no idea we were such slow swimmers, or that puffins actually had a use for their wings since they can't fly, right?
I like that lichen, even if it is bird droppings that make so pretty ;-)
Tina @ Life is Good
A to Z Team @ Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2014

LittleCely said...

Hi Hilary! So many interesting facts. I think my favorite is the one about the Oysters. How different life would be if that were applicable to other animal species.

LittleCely's Blog

Ida Chiavaro said...

Hi Hilary, can't believe we are at X already. I have read a few posts on your blog today so my head is brimming with al sorts of x facts. Todays post about coastlines brings in a sense of fear of change that is beyond our control, but I agree wholeheartedly that areas like wetlands need to be restored and protected and we need to learn to live with them rather than foolishly try and tame them. I hope you enjoyed the 2014 #atozchallenge. I am certainly grateful for our interaction. Al the best
ida
Reflex Reactions

Bish Denham said...

Wow, England and Europe were connected only 6500 years ago? Having grown up on the ocean I have a healthy respect for it. I know as soon as I put my toe in the water, I'm out of my element. Everything can swim faster than I can.

What an interesting batch of faxs!

Jo said...

Hilary, maybe you could consider writing about the Thames Barrier one of these days (if you haven't done so already of course) I know nothing about it bearing in mind I have been out of the UK for close on 40 years.

Fascinating to think that we were connected to Europe once upon a time. So much of the information we have today has really proved incredible.

Teresa Powell Coltrin said...

My favorite fact was about fish not sleeping but are in a inactive state when they rest.

Your posts are awesome.

Mason Canyon said...

Such amazing x-facts. I had never thought about fish sleeping, how odd. The Xanthoria is interesting looking.

Fanny Barnes Thornton said...

Hello Hilary
I hope you've got your computer sorted out. This is a nightmare when you're about to finish A-Z.

I love all your facts. You must spend forever researching.
The oysters - well, they're probably over-sexed or worried about their species dying out.

I've always looked at the structure of land masses and imagined them all fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Great blog, as usual.

mail4rosey said...

You did great on your X Facts. :)
Good luck w/the computer being fixed quickly and efficiently!

loverofwords said...

The X Lichen is jewel-like. Despite the computer glitch, you posted the X! Hope everything gets fixed and we see you tomorrow.

D.G. Hudson said...

That land connection I find interesting, because the social movements of people were determined by access to an area. It reminded me of the Bering Strait bridge.

I like hearing about the coastlines, Hilary. Good luck with the computer problems. I had to get a new laptop earlier this year, but the old one served me well.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Those ripples are cool.
Only one sea plant flowers? Didn't know that.

Elsie Amata said...

My favorite fact out of all of these was the one about the oysters. That's the best!

Elsie
AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

Margie said...

I love seals, that was my favorite fact.
They are fast swimmers.
Amazing X facts, thanks Hilary.

Lisa said...

Wow, I loved seeing how the UK was attached to the continent. I've been to Anglesey. Want to go again... I think the Thames Barrier looks amazing, like something out of a sci-fi film. In one of my novels I wrote about crossing from France to England back around 60 AD. I loved the photo of seeing the Dover Cliffs from France...

cleemckenzie said...

These facts are quite illuminating, Hilary. I'm imagining what lies under the seas for archeologists to discover if that sea recedes.

I did know about oysters. Very scharmt, those bivalves. But I learned a lot about puffins and seals and fish today. Now I have conversation material for tonight. I'll bet my husband doesn't know all of this! Thanks.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I can't wait to see all these photos in person. Our Vancouver International Airport is a man made island. Apparently, the asphalt at the end is 8' deep.

Rosalind Adam said...

Your fact #8 is priceless. Why can't we do that?

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

7,000 miles of shore is huge! I hadn't realized it was that much.

Very interesting about those oysters!

Inger said...

What a brilliant use of X!

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Enjoyed reading all the facts about sealife and sex changes. You chose a unique (real) X-word.
Gail visiting for AtoZ

J E Oneil said...

X is such a tough letter! I have to admit, I think the Xanthoria is kind of pretty looking. I wouldn't expect to be from areas filled with bird droppings :)

Susan Kane said...

I truly enjoyed your X choices, every single one of them. Thanks.

Maria Kristina said...

Hi Hilary,

I completely did know of Xanthoria parietina until I read this post.

I like your introduction of "no island is an island", it reminds me of "no man is an island" which sounds appropriate for my current predicament.

All the strength for us until letter Z!!

Maria

Sharon Himsl said...

Another excellent post, Hilary. Have always been fascinated with the way the lands shifted and can be puzzled together at a glance. That Portuguese Man of War is one scary creature at 49 feet long! Sharon
Shells–Tales–Sails

Inge H. Borg said...

Hilary, You did a monumental job on your X-factors: Interesting, amusing and some apparently inducing wishful thinking in a few (i.e., X-8).

Hope your computers gets out of its funk.

Sara said...

This one is full of fascinating facts. I liked "Do Fish Sleep? I guessed they didn't actually sleep. It would kind of dangerous to do, but it's good to know they REST:~)

Then there's the oysters. Even though I've been around oysters since I was little, I didn't know about them being able to change genders. What a clever idea.

Then there's the fact about sea-grasses being only flowering plants in the sea. There's so much to learn in an Hilary post:~)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Kaushik – they were interesting x facts .. and the oysters – who’d have guessed ... good to see you though ..

@ Tina – I have to say I hadn’t thought about us and swimming speeds ... The puffins do fly .. they hunt at sea and need to get back with their catch to the shores ... their wings have that extra adaption that they aid in getting the puffin to great depths to catch their prey ...

The lichen is pretty isn’t it – I’m always looking at it now – so many colours and adaptations ..

@ Cely – the oysters will catch everyone’s fancy today! And yes, wouldn’t it be interesting if it could be applied to other animals .. worms change I think? and on checking so do other organisms ... check out hermaphrodite in Wiki

@ Ida – the Challenge has whizzed by .. but great catching up with you. Change from mother nature is definitely beyond our control ... but we need to do what we can to protect mother nature and let her do her work for us, and against us sometimes ...

@ Bish – yes not that long ago .. before the great flood opened up the English Channel. I have a very healthy respect for the seas ... and so like you – I quite often stay grounded .. so pleased you enjoyed the faxs!!

@ Jo – thanks for your thought ... here are the two other links to the Thames Barrier ... each post has interesting aspects – so essentially ‘I’ve done it’ .. I hope that’s sufficient! The Thames barrier was erected when I was in South Africa .. so I wasn’t around when it went up in the 1980s ...
We’ve learnt so much in the last 200 years or so, and seem to be exponentially adding to our knowledge ... I find it fascinating that hippos swum in the Thames at one stage ...
http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/malingering-not-winter-19623-more.html
http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/river-thames-diamond-jubilee-pageant.html

I hope that satisfies for sufficient knowledge ... ?

@ Teresa – fish are amazing animals .. the can smell, sense electrical currents ... and as here rest inactively – sensible things!

@ Mason – so often small details clock into our memory bank .. I’d vaguely heard about fish not sleeping as such ... isn’t that lichen particularly pretty ..

@ Fanny – um no – a new one is being organised, but for now I’m coping ...

I guess I do spend a fair amount of time – but I like to get the post right or at least a cohesive holding together of facts and ideas .. and I try and check things up ...

Oysters – I love eating those things!

The tectonic plates did all fit together at one stage ... I wrote about that too – but I see I didn’t exactly put a map up of the continents – but related it to fossil patterns across Gondwanaland – where you can see the continents ..

@ Rosie – thanks re the X facts and also the computer glitch – the wheels are in process ...

@ Natalie - the lichen is very pretty isn’t ... thanks I’m getting through the glitch for the time being .. and got to Z though ...

@ DG – being able to move between Europe and Britain has made a big difference to the available resources that we have now – and then the information we can find out .. Thanks re the thought on the computer – I’ve got through to Z and can now worry about the future and a new machine ...


Thanks - part 2 following ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Alex – I was pleased to find out about the ripples being fossilised ... that seems amazing to me; and yes only one flowering plant for the seas ...

@ Elsie – the oyster fact is a fun one isn’t it ..

@ Margie – seals are stunning and yes can they swim so fast ..

@ Lisa – our continents have travelled too .. which is quite difficult to get to grips with ... that we’re living on a floating island of sorts! Anglesey does look stunning and I’d like to visit ... the Dutch have a similar set up – so theirs too could be a Sci-Fi setting. Glad you liked the photo of Dover cliffs from France – and how interesting that you wrote about crossing the Channel almost 2,000 years ago .. I’ll have to have a read ..

@ Lee – there’s one minor problem to that idea .. we’d be frozen out first probably ... the sea level drops when it gets cold! I hadn’t realised about oysters .. but of course other animals change sex to suit ... we really do live in an incredible world ... I hope your evening conversation was amusing ...??

@ Joylene – well that will be lovely if you are coming over sometime – fun tomeet up ... I hadn’t realised Vancouver Airport was man made ... but it does make sense, now that we can do that sort of thing ... and 8’ of asphalt ...

@ Ros – it’s fun #8 isn’t it .. but others do it ... so we are going in that direction it appears ... evolution can be slow – so not in our lifetime!

@ Elizabeth ... we can’t measure the shoreline ‘exactly’ but I enjoyed writing about how they fathomed what it could be .. clever these mathematicians ... it’s under F for Fractal ... Fun Oyster fact though ..

@ Inger – so delighted you enjoyed the Xs

@ Gail – yes my real X word was ‘easy’ and I could have added other botanical flora and fauna .. but one was enough the facts were more entertaining ..

@ Jeanne - nature provides ... guano is fertiliser and was extremely valuable to us in the 1800s ... imported from South America in huge quantities ... But when we get to X we need to be creative ...

@ Susan – pleased you enjoyed the X facts ..

@ Maria – I quite honestly don’t think many of us have heard of the lichens – very botanical settings! Sorry about the no man is an island ... life is life at times – things will improve ... we’ll make to Z if we get to X ... I’m sure of that!

@ Sharon – it’s interesting Gondwanaland isn’t it ... I thought I’d written about it but it appears I’ve glossed it a few times ... but the puzzle of the continents is extraordinary ...

The Portuguese Man of War with its shawl of very poisonous long tentacles is a particularly nasty animal to come across – well life threatening ..

@ Inge – many thanks ... yes the X facts were fun to add in ... and to think about ... wishfully think about – the Chinese might as a nation ...

The computer is working for now thankfully .. new one (replacement) on its way ...

@ Sara – fish can hide away and turn electrical currents on to warn them if they’re in danger ... but everything needs to rest somewhere along the line ...

It’s strange to think of oysters, worms and other organisms being able to ‘decide’ which ‘sex’ to be .. but life is quite extraordinary ...

... and the sea-grasses ... difficult to flower under water apparently –they’ve devised other ways of pollinating and reproducing ...

Thanks so much – fantastic to have so much interaction ... cheers Hilary

Michelle Wallace said...

"No island is an island"? That's news for me. Wow!
Never knew about oysters either... and never heard about the Portuguese Man of War with tentacles that can reach 15m... he sounds scary!
So fish are more-or-less life-long insomniacs? LOL

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michelle - gosh missed so many comments ... wish they'd come through on email - some do, some don't ..

I know we don't think the land/earth's crust lies under the ocean ... and the other facts ... I'd forgotten some - so was glad to re-read through ...

Cheers Hilary