Tag Archives: Other living things

Lichen fields in the Namib

dsc00452

Lichen fields are found in some of the most uninhabitable places on earth.

The red in the middle distance is lichen. This is in view of the ocean.

dsc00439-001

This lot stands together against the elements.

A few bushes also manage to live here. They are closer to the ocean and the mist that spreads from there every morning. Every meter makes a difference, but even more than 100 km inland plants and animals still manage to survive on the moisture brought in like that.

dsc00445

This colony of lichen lives between Swakopmund and Henties Bay, not far from Wlotzka’s Beacon.

There are hundreds of species here.

dsc00440

The open crust of small stones that covers the surface of the desert here provides a habitat for the lichen, together with the morning fog and blazing sun.

Apparently some of the oldest living things on earth are lichens.

dsc00437

They are a symbiosis of an alga, – that can photosynthesize to produce food, and a fungus that provides protection for the algae.

Many of them cannot survive without each other.

dsc00435

dsc00438

The Russians took lichens into space and exposed them for long periods to the cold and the vacuum of outer space. They came back without any detectable damage. The lichens were also fine 🙂

So a mere desert is a walk in the park.

dsc00395-001

Closer up

dsc00426

dsc00423

Although they don’t often tell you, carbon dating is not very accurate. Within 500 years, it is in fact wildly inaccurate.

Lichen grows on plants and rocks and even within rock. It also grows at a set tempo. 0.5 to 2 or 3 mm per year, depending on the species. Slow, but set. So it can be used to accurately gauge at least it’s own age 🙂

dsc00418

They are all beautiful,

dsc00397

but my favourite is the ‘turkish delight’ variety.

dsc00431

Advertisements

Thrombolites

On the West Coast of Australia, your travel options are as follows,  you can take the coastal road down in the direction of Margaret River, or you can drive into a desert that won’t end for days. I took the coastal road.

Western Australia has a polulation of 2 million. And it is 4 times the size of South Africa, to give you an idea of how remote it is. And 1 million of them live in Perth, so that leaves about one eighth of a person per 10 square kilometres for the rest.

Anyway so as I was driving south I came accross this sign, ‘Thrombolites’, there are not that many signs, so take the turn off. Never heard of them but what the hell.

And seem to be from 600 million years ago, dear heaven, I had heard the land of Oz was old, but honestly.

For the first time since the 90’s I was in a town with no celphone reception, nothing, nada, no bars, in the town.. And you thought Namibia was remote.. Normally there you have 3G in town hie hie.

I know nothing of prehistoric microbiology so here is what they say.

01-DSC02524

Or if you want the official version

tecthrombolieslakeclifton2004227

You always have the jokers around, someone changed the 20 minutes you should allow at the least for this dangerous excursion to at least 25. The English health and safety obsession seems to have made its way accross the oceans. You should prepare for 2 hours to take this 5 minute stroll down to the water. Take enough water, wear sunscreen etc etc.

And then you see  pale blond young girls working on the roads in the blazing sun without as much as a hat to protect them.

I was scandalized, in a country where there is nothing between you and the sun to offer any form of protection and they have such a dangerously high rate of skin cancer, I would expect at least that the road workers who are more exposed than just about anyone else would be issues with 500 SPF sunscreen and a Mexican sambrero at the very least. But no there they are painfully young girls, white blond holding their flags all day in that heat! Beyond belief.

Anyway no more complaining, here they are, and quite pretty I thought. At least they where genetically designed to take the sun.

And more info

14-DSC02537

And more scenary

I liked them, quirky  but classy, almost Adams Family.