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January 1

Depiction of the Battle of Calais

The Battle of Calais took place in the early morning of 1 January 1350, during the Hundred Years' War. English troops in the occupied French city of Calais ambushed and defeated an unsuspecting French force which was attempting to take the city. Despite a truce being in effect, the French commander Geoffrey de Charny had planned to take the city by subterfuge, and bribed Amerigo of Pavia, an Italian officer of the city garrison, to open a gate for them. The English king, Edward III, became aware of the plot and personally led his household knights and the Calais garrison in a surprise counter-attack. The French were routed by this smaller force, with significant losses and all of their leaders captured or killed. Later that day, Edward dined with the highest-ranking captives, treating them with royal courtesy except for Charny, whom he taunted for having abandoned his chivalric principles by both fighting during a truce and attempting to purchase his way into Calais rather than fight. (Full article...)

January 2

Type 23 torpedo boat schematic
Type 23 torpedo boat schematic

Albatros was the fourth of six Type 23 torpedo boats (schematic shown) built for the German Navy. Launched in July 1926 and commissioned in May 1927, she often served as a flagship of various torpedo boat units. The ship made multiple non-intervention patrols during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s. After an attack by aircraft of the Spanish Republican Air Force that killed German sailors in 1937, Albatros participated in the retaliatory bombardment of Almería. At the beginning of World War II in 1939, she helped to lay minefields and made anti-shipping patrols before participating in Operation Weserübung, the German invasion of Norway in April 1940. Albatros fired the first shots of the campaign when she encountered and crippled a Norwegian patrol boat. She was lightly damaged during the Battle of Horten Harbor. Albatros then ran aground and was wrecked while maneuvering in an attempt to avoid Norwegian coastal artillery. (Full article...)

January 3

Map plotting the storm's track and intensity, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale
Map of storm's track and intensity

Cyclone Ada was a small but intense tropical cyclone that severely impacted the Whitsunday Region of Queensland, Australia, in January 1970. It formed over the far eastern Coral Sea early in the month, remaining weak and disorganised for nearly two weeks before being named. The extremely compact cyclone, with a reported gale radius of 55 km (35 mi), intensified into a Category 3 severe tropical cyclone just before striking the Whitsunday Islands on 17 January. Resorts on Daydream, South Molle, Hayman and Long islands were obliterated. Based on the severity of the damage, wind gusts were later estimated at 220 km/h (140 mph). Near the point of Ada's landfall, almost all the homes in Cannonvale, Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour were destroyed. Rainfall totals as high as 1.25 m (49 in) caused massive river flooding in coastal waterways between Bowen and Mackay. Ada killed 14 people, including 11 at sea, and caused A$12 million in damage. (Full article...)

January 4

Venture Science Fiction was an American science fiction magazine published from 1957 to 1958, and revived for a brief run in 1969 and 1970. There were ten issues of the 1950s version, and six in the second run. Robert P. Mills edited the 1950s version, and Edward L. Ferman was editor for the second run. A British edition ran for 28 issues between 1963 and 1965 reprinting material from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as well as from the US edition of Venture. An Australian edition was identical to the British version but dated two months later. The 1950s version was only moderately successful, failing due to poor sales within two years. The publisher, Joseph W. Ferman, said that he wanted well-told stories of action and adventure; the resulting fiction contained more sex and violence than was usual for the genre in the late 1950s, and science fiction historian Mike Ashley has noted that the magazine was ahead of its time. The second US version was also unsuccessful, with poorer cover art and little in the way of notable fiction. By the end of 1970, Venture had ceased publication permanently. (Full article...)

January 5

Mk. XIV sighting head

The Mark XIV bomb sight was developed by Royal Air Force Bomber Command during the Second World War. It was their standard bombsight for the second half of the War, replacing the First World War-era CSBS beginning in 1942. Essentially an automated version of the CSBS, it used a mechanical computer to update the sights in real-time. It required only 10 seconds of straight flight before a bomb drop, and automatically accounted for shallow climbs and dives. It contained a gyro stabilization platform that kept the sight pointed at the target as the bomber manoeuvred, dramatically increasing its accuracy and ease of sighting. It demonstrated accuracy roughly equal to the contemporary Norden bombsight, and was smaller, easier to use, faster-acting and better suited to night bombing. A post-war upgrade, the T-4, connected directly to the Navigation and Bombing System computers to automate the setting of wind speed and direction. (Full article...)

January 6

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-S73321, Gottlob Berger.jpg

Gottlob Berger (1896–1975) was a senior German Nazi official and the chief of the Main Office of the Schutzstaffel (SS) during World War II. He was transferred to the SS in 1936 by its commander, Heinrich Himmler. Berger was responsible for the growth of the armed wing of the SS, the Waffen-SS, evading controls over conscription and overseeing recruitment within and outside Germany, including among those who in no way reflected Himmler's ideas of "racial purity". Often clashing with senior military officers and even with his superiors over his recruiting methods, Berger grew the Waffen-SS to 38 divisions by the war's end. He placed his friend Oskar Dirlewanger in command of a unit of convicted criminals that later committed many war crimes. Indicted for war crimes himself on 6 January 1949, Berger was convicted on 13 April, including for his involvement in slave labour schemes and as a conscious participant in the concentration camp program. (Full article...)

January 7

Millard Fillmore daguerreotype by Mathew Brady 1849-crop.jpg

Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874) was the 13th president of the United States, the last president from the Whig Party. Born into poverty in the Finger Lakes area of New York state, he became a prominent attorney in the Buffalo area and was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1828, and to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1832. As Ways and Means Committee chairman, he helped pass the Tariff of 1842. In 1848, he was elected vice president and succeeded to the presidency in July 1850 upon the death of President Zachary Taylor. Fillmore considered slavery an evil, but beyond the powers of the federal government. He pushed to pass the Compromise of 1850, leading to a brief truce in the battle over slavery. He also enforced the Fugitive Slave Act, a controversial part of the Compromise. The Whigs nominated Winfield Scott in 1852 instead of him. In 1856, he was nominated for president by the Know Nothing Party, but he finished third, winning only Maryland. (Full article...)

January 8

Artist rendition of a Patagonian landscape in the early Paleocene
Artist rendition of a Patagonian landscape in the early Paleocene

The Paleocene is a geological epoch that started 66 million years ago with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction of non-avian dinosaurs and 75 percent of all species. The Paleocene was marked by the recovery of the biosphere, with dense forests worldwide, while small mammals and birds rapidly evolved to take advantage of the mass extinction. In the seas, ray-finned fish rose to dominance. The supercontinents Laurasia and Gondwana were still separating, the Rocky Mountains were being uplifted, the Americas were divided, the Indian Plate was colliding with Asia, and the North Atlantic Igneous Province was forming. Like the preceding Mesozoic, the Paleocene had a greenhouse climate, with an average global temperature of 24–25 °C (75–77 °F), compared to 14 °C (57 °F) today. It ended 56 million years ago with a sharp rise in temperature in the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum. (Full article...)

January 9

Reed beds in Ham Wall
Reed beds in Ham Wall

Ham Wall is an English wetland and National Nature Reserve located 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) west of Glastonbury on the Somerset Levels. It is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which helps coordinate conservation issues across the Somerset Levels as part of the Avalon Marshes Partnership. The reserve was constructed originally to provide reed bed habitat for the bittern, which in 1997 was at a low population level in the UK. The site is divided into sections with independently controllable water levels, and machinery and cattle are used to maintain the quality of the reed beds. The reserve hosts important breeding populations of the rare little bittern and great white egret, and has other uncommon animals and plants. Potential future threats may include heavy summer rains and extensive flooding. Sea level rise may make drainage more difficult, and current water pumping facilities may become inadequate. (Full article...)

January 10

Skull and limb bones
Skull and limb bones

The Rodrigues parrot (Necropsittacus rodricanus) is an extinct species of parrot that was endemic to Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean. Its relationships are unclear but it is classified with other Mascarene parrots in the tribe Psittaculini and may have been related to the broad-billed parrot of Mauritius. The Rodrigues parrot was green, and had a proportionally large head and beak along with a long tail. It was the largest parrot on Rodrigues, and had the largest head of any Mascarene parrot; it may have looked similar to the great-billed parrot. By the time it was discovered, it frequented and nested on islets off southern Rodrigues, where introduced rats were absent, and fed on the seeds of the Fernelia buxifolia shrub. The species is known from subfossil bones and from mentions in contemporary accounts. It was last mentioned in 1761, and probably became extinct soon after, perhaps due to a combination of predation by rats, deforestation, and hunting by humans. (Full article...)

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January 11

Obverse and reverse sides of the coin

The Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial half dollar is a fifty-cent piece struck by the United States Bureau of the Mint in 1925 as a commemorative coin in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. It was designed by Chester Beach. Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation introduced legislation in 1924 to authorize a commemorative half dollar for the anniversary. The bill passed both houses of Congress and was signed by President Calvin Coolidge. Beach had to satisfy committees from both Lexington and Concord, and the Commission of Fine Arts passed the design only reluctantly, feeling he had been given poor materials to work with. The coins were sold for $1, and were vended at the anniversary celebrations in Lexington and in Concord; they were sold at banks across New England. Although just over half of the authorized mintage of 300,000 was struck, almost all the coins that were minted were sold. Depending on condition, they are catalogued in the hundreds of dollars. (Full article...)

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January 12

Japanese convoy under attack on 12 January 1945
Japanese convoy under attack on 12 January 1945

The South China Sea raid was conducted by the United States Third Fleet between 10 and 20 January 1945 during the Pacific War. Undertaken to support the liberation of Luzon in the Philippines, it targeted Japanese warships, supply convoys and aircraft in the region. After attacking airfields and shipping at Formosa and Luzon, the Third Fleet entered the South China Sea and aircraft from its carriers attacked Japanese shipping off French Indochina on 12 January, sinking 44 vessels. The fleet then sailed north and attacked Formosa again on 15 January. Further raids were conducted against Hong Kong, Canton and Hainan the next day. The South China Sea raid was highly successful as the American force destroyed a large number of Japanese ships and aircraft, while losing relatively few aircraft. According to historians, the destruction of cargo vessels and oil tankers was the most important result of the raid, as these contributed to closing a supply route which was vital to the Japanese war effort. (Full article...)

January 13

Art Ross

Art Ross (1886–1964) was a Canadian ice hockey player and executive from 1905 until 1954. Among the best defencemen of his era, he was one of the first to skate up the ice with the puck rather than pass it to a forward. He won the Stanley Cup twice in a playing career that lasted thirteen seasons; in January 1907 with the Kenora Thistles and in 1908 with the Montreal Wanderers. In 1911 he led one of the first organized player strikes over pay. When the Wanderers' home arena burned down in January 1918, the team ceased operations and Ross retired as a player. After several years as an on-ice official, he was named head coach of the Hamilton Tigers for one season. When the Boston Bruins were formed in 1924, he was hired as the first coach and general manager of the team. He would go on to coach the team on four separate occasions up to 1945 and stayed as general manager until retiring in 1954. Ross helped the Bruins win the league ten times and win the Stanley Cup three times; Ross himself coached the team to one of those victories. (Full article...)

January 14

Skull of a T. talamancae male
Skull of a T. talamancae male

Transandinomys talamancae is a widespread and common rodent in the genus Transandinomys that occurs from Costa Rica to southwestern Ecuador and northern Venezuela. Its habitat is lowland forests up to an altitude of 1,500 m (5,000 ft). It is a medium-sized rice rat with soft fur, reddish to brownish on the overparts and whitish on the underparts. The ears and feet are long, and the tail is dark brown above and lighter below. The whiskers are very long. The species was first described in 1891 by Joel Asaph Allen. It was considered to be conspecific with what is now Hylaeamys megacephalus from the 1960s until the 1980s and was then placed in the genus Oryzomys until 2006, when it was moved to its current genus. This is a terrestrial nocturnal rat that eats plants and insects. It breeds throughout the year, but few individuals survive for more than a year. After a gestation of about 28 days, two to five young are born, which reach sexual maturity within two months. Part of the Transandinomys featured topic. (Full article...)

January 15

Newspaper advertisement in Dutch for Soeara Berbisa
Newspaper advertisement in Dutch for Soeara Berbisa

Soeara Berbisa (Indonesian for Venomous Voice) is a 1941 film from the Dutch East Indies. Produced by Ang Hock Liem for Union Films and directed by R Hu, this black-and-white film starred Raden Soekarno, Ratna Djoewita, Oedjang, and Soehaena. The story, written by Djojopranoto, follows two young men who compete for the affections of a woman before learning that they are long-lost brothers. Completed between September and October 1941, Soeara Berbisa featured kroncong music and was shot partly in western Java. It was released to coincide with the Eid al-Fitr holiday, and rated for all ages. Advertisements (example shown) emphasised the film's appeal to both Native and Dutch audiences, and a review in De Indische Courant was positive. This was Union's penultimate production before the company closed after the Japanese occupied the Indies in March 1942. Soeara Berbisa was screened as late as 1949 and is now likely lost. Part of the Union Films featured topic. (Full article...)

January 16

The grandstand in 2005

Ninian Park was an association football stadium in the Leckwith area of Cardiff, Wales, that was the home of Cardiff City Football Club from 1910 to 2009, and of the Wales national football team from 1911 until the late 1980s. Named after Lord Ninian Crichton-Stuart, it was originally constructed with a single wooden stand and three large banks made of ash, but gradual improvements saw the construction of the Canton Stand, the Grange End, and the Popular Bank in addition to the grandstand (pictured). A record 62,634 fans watched a match against England on 17 October 1959, but the stadium's capacity was eventually reduced to 21,508 over safety concerns. The ground hosted its last match on 25 April 2009 against Ipswich Town and was demolished soon after, being replaced by the newly constructed Cardiff City Stadium located opposite. The site was converted into a residential housing estate named Ninian Park. (Full article...)

January 17

Apororhynchus hemignathi
Apororhynchus hemignathi

Apororhynchus is a genus of small, parasitic spiny-headed (or thorny-headed) worms, the only genus in the order Apororhynchida. A lack of features commonly found in Acanthocephala suggests an evolutionary branching from the other three orders of class Archiacanthocephala. The distinguishing features of this order are a highly enlarged proboscis containing small hooks, and differently structured musculature around this proboscis in its receptacle and receptacle protrusor. The genus contains six species that are distributed globally, being collected sporadically in Hawaii, Europe, North America, South America, and Asia. These worms exclusively parasitize birds by attaching themselves around the cloaca using their hooks and adhesives secreted from cement glands. The bird hosts are of different orders, including owls, waders, and passerines. Infection by an Apororhynchus species may cause enteritis and anemia. (Full article...)

January 18

Part of the Coldrum Long Barrow

The Coldrum Long Barrow is a ruined British Early Neolithic chambered long barrow near the village of Trottiscliffe, Kent. Probably constructed in the fourth millennium BCE, it was built by pastoralist communities soon after the introduction of agriculture to Britain. Built out of earth and around fifty local sarsen-stone megaliths, the barrow consisted of a tumulus enclosed by kerb-stones. At the eastern end of the tumulus was a stone chamber containing the remains of at least seventeen human bodies, at least one of which had been dismembered before burial, potentially reflecting a tradition of excarnation and secondary burial. The long barrow later became dilapidated, possibly exacerbated through deliberate destruction by iconoclasts or treasure hunters. Local folklore associates the site with the burial of a prince and the countless stones motif. Excavations took place in the early 20th century, and in 1926, ownership was transferred to the National Trust. Entry is free, and the stones are the site of various modern Pagan rituals. (Full article...)

January 19

Julia Voth in costume as Jill Valentine
Julia Voth in costume as Jill Valentine

Jill Valentine is a fictional character in Resident Evil, a survival horror video game series created by the Japanese company Capcom. Appearing in the original Resident Evil (1996), she featured as the protagonist in several later games in the series. From 2002 onward, she was drawn to resemble Canadian model and actor Julia Voth (pictured). Valentine also appears in the Resident Evil film series, portrayed by actor Sienna Guillory, and in several other game franchises, including Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom and Project X Zone. Video game publications praised Valentine as the most likable and consistent Resident Evil character. Several publications praised the series for making Valentine as competent and skilled as her male counterparts and for avoiding sexual objectification; others criticized her costumes as overtly sexual, and argued that her role as a heroine was weakened by her unrealistic features. (Full article...)

January 20

Buzz Aldrin in 1969

Buzz Aldrin (born January 20, 1930) is an American former astronaut and fighter pilot. As lunar module pilot on the Apollo 11 mission, he and Neil Armstrong were the first humans to land on the Moon. A graduate of West Point and MIT, where he earned a doctorate in astronautics, Aldrin served as an Air Force fighter pilot during the Korean War, flying 66 combat missions and shooting down two MiGs. He was selected as an astronaut with NASA's third group in 1963. His first spaceflight was in 1966 on Gemini 12, during which he spent over five hours outside the spacecraft. He set foot on the Moon on July 21, 1969 (UTC), nineteen minutes after Armstrong. He left NASA in 1971 and became commandant of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. His autobiographies Return to Earth and Magnificent Desolation recount his struggles with depression and alcoholism. He developed the Aldrin cycler, a Mars spacecraft trajectory, and continues to advocate for space exploration, particularly a human mission to Mars. (Full article...)

January 21

O. kokomoensis
O. kokomoensis

Onychopterella was a predatory aquatic arthropod of the order of eurypterids, often called sea scorpions. Fossils of the species O. kokomoensis (pictured) and O. pumilus have been found in the United States, and fossils of O. augusti in South Africa. Onychopterella (from Greek for 'claw wing') lived from the Late Ordovician to the Late Silurian, from 444 to 422 million years ago. The head was almost rectangular, with bean-shaped compound eyes. The limbs were generally long and narrow with a spine on the tip, and the body was ornamented with small, pointed scales. Lengths ranged from 16 cm (6.3 in) for O. kokomoensis to 4 cm (1.6 in) for O. pumilus. Onychopterella was able to swim, and probably able to walk on the seabed with its spines and dig with its head. The best-preserved specimens of O. augusti show similarities to modern scorpions in their alimentary canal, limb musculature and respiratory system. (Full article...)

January 22

Alhambra in 2017
Alhambra in 2017

Muhammad II was the Nasrid ruler of the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus on the Iberian Peninsula from 1273 until his death in 1302. Succeeding his father Muhammad I, he maintained Granada's independence in the face of its larger neighbours, the Christian kingdom of Castile and the Muslim Marinid state of Morocco. He added the Tower of the Ladies and the Tower of the Points to his father's palace and fortress complex, the Alhambra (pictured). To defend Granada against the Christians, he recruited soldiers from North Africa and organized them into the Volunteers of the Faith. He instituted the Nasrid royal protocol and the court chancery and increased the importance of the vizier in government. Muhammad II built a series of strongholds in strategic positions that remained for centuries as the backbone of Granadan border defences. He was known by the epithet al-Faqih, the canon lawyer, reflecting his education and his support for scholars and poets. (Full article...)

January 23

Suillus luteus

Suillus luteus is a bolete fungus common in its native Eurasia and widely introduced elsewhere. English names such as "slippery jack" refer to the brown cap, which is slimy in wet conditions. The mushrooms are edible, though not highly regarded, and are often eaten in soups, stews or fried dishes. The fungus grows in coniferous forests in its native range, and pine plantations where introduced. It forms symbiotic associations with living trees by enveloping the underground roots. The fungus produces spore-bearing mushrooms above ground in summer and autumn. The cap often has a distinctive conical shape before flattening with age. Instead of gills, the underside of the cap has pores with tubes extending downward that allow mature spores to escape. The pore surface is yellow, and covered by a membranous partial veil when young. The stalk is pale with small dots near the top. It bears a distinctive ring that is tinged brown to violet on the underside. (Full article...)

January 24

Jean-François Champollion
Jean-François Champollion

The decipherment of ancient Egyptian scripts was accomplished in the early nineteenth century by several European scholars, especially Jean-François Champollion (pictured) and Thomas Young. Egyptian writing, which included the hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic scripts, ceased to be understood in the fourth and fifth centuries AD. Afterwards, it was believed that Egyptian scripts were exclusively ideographic, representing ideas, rather than phonetic, representing sounds. The Rosetta Stone, discovered in 1799, bore a parallel text in hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek, but deciphering the Egyptian text through its Greek translation proved difficult. Young, building on the work of Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy and Johan David Åkerblad, identified several phonetic signs in demotic. In the early 1820s Champollion realised the hieroglyphic script had both phonetic and ideographic elements. He identified the meanings of most phonetic hieroglyphs and established much of the grammar and vocabulary of ancient Egyptian. (Full article...)

January 25

Æthelbald depicted in a 14th-century royal genealogy
Æthelbald depicted in a
14th-century royal genealogy

Æthelbald, King of Wessex (died 860) was the second of five sons of King Æthelwulf of Wessex. Æthelbald's elder brother Æthelstan defeated the Vikings in 850 in the first recorded sea battle in English history, and probably died in the early 850s. The next year Æthelwulf and Æthelbald inflicted another defeat on the Vikings at the Battle of Aclea. In 855 Æthelwulf went on pilgrimage to Rome and appointed Æthelbald king of Wessex, while Æthelberht, the next oldest son, became king of Kent, which had been conquered by Wessex thirty years earlier. Æthelbald refused to give up his throne when his father returned to England in 856, and continued as king either of west Wessex or the whole territory until his father died in 858. Æthelbald then married his father's widow, Judith, a great-granddaughter of Charlemagne, to the scandal of later monastic chroniclers, and ruled Wessex until his own death. Æthelberht now re-united Wessex and Kent under his sole rule and they were never again divided. (Full article...)

January 26

Walter Krueger

Walter Krueger (26 January 1881 – 20 August 1967) was an American soldier who commanded the Sixth United States Army in the South West Pacific Area during World War II, rising from private to general in his army career. A child immigrant born in Flatow, West Prussia, he served in the Spanish–American War and the Philippine–American War and was promoted to second lieutenant in 1901. When the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, he was assigned to the 84th Infantry Division as assistant chief of staff, later as chief of staff. In October 1918, he commanded the Tank Corps. Between the wars, he served in various roles, and in 1941 he assumed command of the Third Army. In 1943 he was sent to the South West Pacific Area as commander of the Sixth Army, which he led in a series of victorious campaigns against the Japanese. In the Battle of Luzon in 1945 he was finally able to maneuver his army as he had in 1941 against a Japanese army under Tomoyuki Yamashita. (This article is part of a featured topic: Command in the South West Pacific Area.)

January 27

Aerial view

Hyūga was the second of two Ise-class battleships built for the Imperial Japanese Navy during the 1910s. The battleship supported Japanese forces in the early 1920s during the Siberian intervention in the Russian Civil War, and assisted survivors of the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923. The ship was partially modernised between 1927 and 1932 and rebuilt in the pagoda mast style, with further improvements in 1934–1936. Hyūga played a minor role in the Second Sino-Japanese War, but was considered obsolete by the eve of the Pacific War. Following the loss of most of the navy's large aircraft carriers during the Battle of Midway in mid-1942, the battleship was rebuilt with a flight deck, but lacked aircraft and qualified pilots throughout the war. In late 1944 the ship helped to decoy an American carrier fleet away from the landing beaches at Leyte. Hyūga was sunk during American airstrikes in July 1945. (This article is part of a featured topic: Battleships of Japan.)

January 28

Persoonia linearis

Persoonia linearis, the narrow-leaved geebung, is a shrub native to New South Wales and Victoria in eastern Australia. It reaches 3 m (9.8 ft), or occasionally 5 m (16 ft), in height and has thick, dark grey papery bark. The leaves are linear in shape, up to 9 cm (3.5 in) long, and 0.1 to 0.7 cm (0.04 to 0.28 in) wide. The small yellow flowers appear from December to July, followed by small green fleshy fruits. P. linearis interbreeds with several other Persoonia species where they grow together. This shrub is found in dry forest on poor sandstone-based soils, and is adapted to a fire-prone environment; the plants resprout epicormic buds from beneath their thick bark after bushfires. The fruit are consumed by vertebrates such as kangaroos, possums and currawongs. P. linearis is rare in cultivation as it is very hard to propagate by seed or by cuttings, but once propagated, it adapts readily, preferring acidic soils with good drainage and at least a partly sunny aspect. (Full article...)

January 29

Formation sign of the 23rd Division
Formation sign of the 23rd Division

The 23rd (Northumbrian) Division was an infantry division of the British Army in the Second World War. Formed in 1939 from a cadre of the Territorial Army's 50th (Northumbrian) Motor Division, it was sent to France in April 1940 with scant training and preparation and inadequate administration, logistics, and heavy weapons. When Germany invaded Belgium, the British Expeditionary Force and French armies advanced, leaving the 23rd Division behind to guard airfields. After the main German attack came through the Ardennes, the division was ordered to the front line to defend the Canal du Nord—the only watercourse obstacle between the main German assault and the English Channel. By the time the division arrived, the Germans had already crossed south of their sector where French forces had yet to take up positions. One of the division's brigades was caught by armoured forces and overrun; the other conducted rearguard actions during the retreat to Dunkirk. The remnants of the division were evacuated on 31 May 1940, having suffered heavy losses. (Full article...)

January 30

Adult Hispaniolan golden swallow

The golden swallow (Tachycineta euchrysea) is found in Hispaniola and Jamaica mainly in isolated montane forests of Hispaniolan pine. The Jamaican subspecies is likely extinct, perhaps through predation by mammals and habitat loss, and the Hispaniolan subspecies is considered to be vulnerable by the IUCN. This is a small swallow with mainly copper-bronze upperparts and white underparts. The legs, feet, and irises are dark brown, and the bill is black. The extant subspecies differs from the Jamaican form in having a more forked tail and bluer upperparts. The female is similar, but with mottled grey-brown on the breast, and occasionally on the throat and undertail. In Hispaniola, this swallow breeds from April to July, laying a clutch consisting of two to four white eggs in a cup nest in Hispaniolan pine, in caves or under eaves. It is an aerial insectivore, usually foraging up to 20 m (66 ft) above the ground. (Full article...)

January 31

Roman temple of Bziza

The Roman temple of Bziza is a well-preserved first-century AD Roman temple in the Lebanese town of Bziza. It is dedicated to Azizos, a personification of the morning star in the Canaanite mythology. The temple's name is a corruption of Beth Azizo, meaning the house or temple of Azizos. The building has two doors that connect the portico to a square chamber. To the back of the temple lie the remains of the adyton where images of the deity once stood. The ancient temple was meant to function as the dwelling place of the deity. It was converted into a church and underwent architectural modification during two phases of Christianization: in the Early Byzantine period and in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The church, colloquially known until modern times as the Lady of the Pillars, fell into disrepair. Despite the church's condition, Christian devotion was still maintained in the nineteenth century in one of the temple's niches. (Full article...)