Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Previous 10 Beasts Locked in Brutal Combat

Nose to nose, the two males square up, snorting and scratching at the dirt beneath them. Animals may not go to w*r but they sure do fight. The reasons behind such behavior are usually to do with establishing and keeping territory or battling for dominance and the right to mate with females.

bigstockGemsbokFightPhoto: Bigstock / JohanSwanepoel

Unlike carnivores, herbivores don't have claws and sharp teeth to rip and shred their prey, but they certainly aren't defenseless – as these shots of them facing off against each other show.

10. Zebras

bigstockClose-upoftwostallionsfighPhoto: Bigstock / JohanSwanepoel

These two biting zebra stallions are likely fighting for dominance, with one challenging the other for the right to control the 'harem' – the term for the group of one male and several females and their foals formed among most zebra species. Bachelor males live together or on their own until ready to challenge a breeding stallion and so establish their own harem.

9. Kobs

bigstockTwoMaleKobFightingEachOthPhoto: Bigstock / trevkitt

It is rare to think of herbivores fighting to the death but this can happen among these sub-Saharan antelope – notably fiercely competitive Ugandan kobs, when one male attempts to invade the territory of another. Kobs use their natural 'head apparatus' to good advantage, generally clashing and grappling using their horns, head-on. However, some will attack from behind or the side, and this can prove fatal.

8. Bison

bigstockButtingHeadsPhoto: Bigstock / shirokuma98

There are two surviving species of bison, the European and the American. They fight in slightly different ways during the breeding season – when they are extremely aggressive and potentially dangerous. The European bison has horns that are pointed in such a way that they can interlock horns, while the American bison tend to fight by butting heads, as these two are doing.

7. White-tailed Deer

bigstockThreeWhitetailBucksFightingPhoto: Bigstock / EEI Tony

With their Bambi image, we may not often think of deer as fighting animals but males, called bucks, most certainly compete with each other over the right to mate with females – engaging in sparring behavior that establishes dominance hierarchies. Here we see three white-tailed bucks facing off in Great Smoky Mountain National Park, USA.

6. Bulls

bigstockBullfightingPhoto: Bigstock / Satori1312

Bulls have a number of characteristics that enable them to defend their position of dominance, or challenge that of another male. Robust bones, a powerful neck and a bony head with ridges covering the eyes are key to their physiology. Here two males clash heads, with their noses to the ground.

5. Impalas

bigstockImpalaRamsFightingPhoto: Bigstock / Riaan van den Berg

These medium-sized, somewhat delicate-looking antelope locking horns in the dusty savanna are impalas, native to Africa. Only the males have the lyre-shaped horns, which can grow to up to 90 centimeters (35 in) long. Highly possessive, the males, known as rams, establish territories with groups of females that they defend against rivals, and they willingly fight one another during the rutting season.

4. Rhinoceroses

RhinocerosesPhoto: Karolos Trivizas

When animals the size of rhinoceroses charge they can give each other quite a thump. Add the fact that they have horns into the mix and you have the makings of a formidable clash. Serious and sometimes dangerous fights break out among the males of some species during mating season, and the black rhino has the highest mortality rate resulting from such contests of any mammal.

3. Wildebeest

bigstockWildebeestFightingPhoto: Bigstock / SouWest

The wildebeest is a migratory animal, meaning there are no clearly defined territories established over the months they spend on the move. Even so, male wildebeest will defend temporary territories while trying to attract females in heat. Here two of the powerful animals go head-to-head. The number of wildebeest in a herd is so large that during the rut there can be 300 small territories per square kilometer.

2. Gemsboks

bigstockImpalaFightPhoto: JohanSwanepoel

A member of the Oryx genus, gemsbok are beautiful antelopes with incredible horns 85 cm (33 in) long. The males use these weapons to defend their territory from rivals – as seen in this intense battle, which shows two of the animals with their horns locked together and the dust they’ve kicked up billowing around them.

1. Elephants

bigstockElephantBattleInclClippingPhoto: Bigstock / cojharries

Here, two elephants clash on a section of roadway in Africa. Male elephants spend a good deal of time timing battling one another for dominance, as only dominant males can expect to mate with females. Subordinate elephant bulls must bide their time, often waiting until they are at least 40 years of age. (Can you imagine if it were the same for humans?) While in general battles between males are more shows of aggression, during breeding season, when they come into musth, bulls will fight most other males they meet, and injuries can occur.

Bonus: Kangaroos

bigstockAnimal-KangarooPhoto: Bigstock / smileyjoanne

Both male and female kangaroos are known to clash over drinking spots but it is the males that engage in the drawn-out fighting rituals – often called boxing – sometimes in the presence of females in estrus. Such fights are so ritualized that they often begin with mutual grooming behavior before the battle commences. These ‘bouts’ are thought to establish hierarchies of dominance.

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Monday, 28 November 2011

LEGO Animals Invade the Bronx Zoo!

Any Inhabitat reader knows how much we love LEGOs, and this time, this architectural toy of choice has managed to create a fun and interactive way to experience the Bronx Zoo.

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Deemed "The Great Summer Zoofari," this new installation features a smattering of impressive LEGO statues that are situated right next to their real-life counterparts. Accompanying the arrival of this latest addition to the Bronx Zoo's menagerie of creatures is a series of LEGO-riffic events that are sure to bring out your inner child. Hit the jump to see our personal encounters with the pixelated creatures!

LEGO Master Builders crafted the life like statues, which sit in natural habitats scattered throughout the zoo. The 6-foot tall giraffe was one of our favorites.

bronx-zoo-lego-giraffe

A LEGO gorilla and her baby sit in the grass, watching the visitors. We'll admit that we had a lot of fun tracking down the animals! You could make the adventure even more fun by dressing up like Steve Irwin and posing for safari pictures with the statues.

bronx-zoo-lego-gorilla

The full-scale aquarium replica, complete with a big red octopus, is ultra impressive.

The full-scale aquarium replica, complete with a big red octopus, is ultra impressive.

Many of the animals were selected to highlight the Wildlife Conservation Society's preservation efforts, such as the ray spray toad.

Many of the animals were selected to highlight the Wildlife Conservation Society's preservation efforts, such as the ray spray toad.

A flock of pink flamingos stand in real water. The LEGO Masters are hosting a series of LEGO building events and workshops for families to get creative and build their own creations.

A flock of pink flamingos stand in real water. The LEGO Masters are hosting a series of LEGO building events and workshops for families to get creative and build their own creations.

The zoo also has free-for-all LEGO construction center available for children (and creatively suppressed adults) to build to their hearts' content. Do you think you could make a statue as impressive as this bear?

The zoo also has free-for-all LEGO construction center available for children

There are online-guides that can help you or your child create your very own LEGO creatures, like the fish in the aquarium, at home.

bronx-zoo-lego-fish

When you enter the Zoo, merely ask the (sometimes) friendly attendants at the counter for a Lego Zoofari Passport along with your ticket for a comprehensive guide to the installation's whereabouts. On an inner tab of the Passport, you can "collect" 6 different stamps for souvenir-like proof of your visit.

bronx-zoo-lego-zoofari

You can place yourself in the LEGO displays with several fun photo opps like this bear face installation.

You can place yourself in the LEGO displays with several fun photo opps like this bear face installation.

The LEGO statues will be on display at the zoo through September 30, so hurry to see them before they go back to LEGO heaven.

The LEGO statues will be on display at the zoo through September 30, so hurry to see them before they go back to LEGO heaven.

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Best of London 2012 Festival Event Highlights

Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, England

New York-based artist group YesYesNo will feature an installation stretching along the length of Hadrian’s Wall. The structure will be viewable from different locations all over the world through digital media.

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Hadrian’s Wall forms 86-miles of the most important remaining structures of the Roman Empire.

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England

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The ancient Stonehenge site will be illuminated by a sparkling fire show from French performance art group Compagnie Carabosse. This spectacular sensory experience will feature flaming fire sculptures, glowing candle-lit pathways and fiery engines lighting up the stones.

Stonehenge is one of the most iconic monuments of the World Heritage Sites.

Land’s End, Cornwall, England

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The collaborative artwork of director Deborah Warner, actor Fiona Shaw and creative producers Artichoke will celebrate the beauty and diversity of the UK coastline. These installations will appear simultaneously at various points on the UK coast, from Northern Ireland and remote Scottish Islands to the tip of Cornwall.

Warner’s work is world-renown for its grace and beauty.

Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Northern Ireland

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Giant’s Causeway will be the backdrop for an installation of flags randomly placed along its trail. The flags will be red on one side while yellow on the other, showing a flickering pattern between the two colours depending on the strength of the wind. This series by German artist Hans Peter Kuhn aims to be a transmission of nature’s message.

Giants Causeway has been described as the Eighth Wonder of the World and is Ireland’s first World Heritage Site.

Hunstanton, North Norfolk, England

northnorfolkbeach_2066381i

Acclaimed director Robert Wilson, Dutch visual artist Theun Mosk and theatre maker Boujke Schweignman rediscover the North Norfolk coast through a series of contrasting visual and sound installations featured along the coastline. This unique three-mile walking journey will span various land forms from dunes and woodland to valleys and beaches.

North Norfolk is found at the furthest eastern parts of the UK and stretches 43 miles along the North Sea coast.

Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire, England

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CORE will be a series of various inter-linked digital light and sound projections at the Engine Shop at Ironbridge Gorge. This multi-channel sound installation, created by the 2010 Quartz Electronic Music Award winner Kurt Hentschl├Ąger, will fill the Engine Shop with constantly changing patterns.

Known as the birthplace of industry, Ironbridge Gorge was a hotspot for writers and artists in the 18th century. It was once called “the most extraordinary district in the world.”

Lake Windermere, Cumbria, England

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This new light show blending powerful musical rhythms with fireworks will be a world premiere by artist group Les Commandos Percu. On the Nightshift will be among the opening events for the London 2012 festival, following the arrival of the Olympic Torch at Lake Windermere earlier that evening. The show will feature specially-selected UK artists.

Stretching 10.5 miles long, a mile wide and 220 feet deep, Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake in England, formed by the merging of many rivers.

Selkirk, Scottish Borders, Scotland

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This arts project will create a full-sized football pitch deep in the Clarilawmuir Plantation near the town of Selkirk in the Scottish Borders to host two football matches. The pitch will then be allowed to grow back naturally into a diverse environment.

The project aims to raise questions about various issues including national identity, sustainability, and the benefits of sports participation among others.

Clocaenog Forest, North Wales

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Argentinian choreographer Constanza Macras will take the audience on a journey into the wild, with a riveting dance performance set in the forests of North Wales. The theatrical dance show is expected to be a touching experience attempting to tap into your dreams and fears.

Macras is founder of the dance company DorkyPark and was recently awarded the German Theatre Award for best choreography for Megalopolis in 2010.

St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff, Wales

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Adain Avion is a mobile art space created from the recycled fuselage of a DC-9 airplane discovered by Spanish sculptor Eduardo Canal. Celebrating the work’s 20th anniversary, Welsh artist Marc Rees will bring Adain Avion across different parts of Wales to host a week of cultural activities. Its final stop will be at St. Fagans, National History Museum.

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Friday, 25 November 2011

Thanksgiving: Food for Thought

Happy Thanksgiving! The Infographic below provides some fun facts on this holiday that dates back to the Pilgrims and is mostly celebrated in the United States and Canada. Enjoy!

Brought to you by bigeyecreative.com

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Previous 15 Amazing Images of Baby Birds at Dinner Time

f we go by the saying “the early bird catches the worm”, these chicks must have gotten up at the crack of dawn, as they’re catching big juicy worms – as well as insects – in their hungry little beaks. However, they’re not getting these snacks from the ground, of course, but courtesy of their dedicated and ever-busy parents. So, in actual fact it’s mom and dad that are the real early birds – no doubt driven by the chirping of the many hungry mouths they have to feed!

15 Amazing Images of Baby Birds at Dinner TimePhoto: Bigstockphoto / Ornitolog82

As we can see from this first image, the mother garden warbler (Sylvia borin) has five hungry mouths demanding attention – and food – and what big mouths too! Somehow, each gaping red mouth seems to be almost as big as the rest of the baby bird.

This mother robin has a tasty treat for her chick. Only one, we wonder? Maybe the others aren’t awake yet or have fallen out of the nest, as unfortunately is occasionally known to happen.

9bigstockMommaandBabyPhoto: Bigstockphoto / wrentz

What an aww-inspiring capture! Both parent robins are with their young – the mother providing a bit of bodily warmth while the father offers the three chicks the treat of a big, slimy earthworm. Family bliss! Well, it’s a moment’s rest for mom and dad, at least.

10bigstockRobinsFeedTheirYoungPhoto: Bigstockphoto / Mike Truchon

Feeding constantly hungry chicks is clearly a difficult job, but what comes to the aid of parents birds is the fact that around 95% of all birds are socially monogamous, meaning they’ll stick with the same partner at least for the breeding season – and possibly longer. Thus, the burden of caring for the young – of which feeding takes up a large chunk of the work – is shared more or less equally between the parents.

2bigstockWildBirdsPhoto: Bigstockphoto / WizData

This mother grey fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa) has found what looks like a big, juicy fly to feed one of the mouths of her hydra-headed brood. Notice how the little bird furthest from the food has its little beak closed: looks like it’s out of the running for getting a bite to eat.

If you’re wondering which birds require the most feeding and parental care, the answer is the young of the great frigatebird. The chicks need six months to fledge and are then brought food by their parents for a further 14 months. That’s a long time to be dependent for a bird!

3bigstockFantailMpJpegForStockPhoto: Bigstockphoto / Benjamint

This eager mother bird has found a particularly juicy insect for her two ravenous young ones. Wait – there may even be a third little head in that expertly crafted nest. A mother’s work is never done!

5bigstockWildBirds70518jpg.img_assist_custom-600x400Photo: Bigstockphoto / WizData

In this next case, the fastest bird seems to have gotten the worm. It’s a long morsel, though, so maybe each of these three adorable fluffy chicks will get a bite. In any case, it’s back to scouting for more food for the parents. It’s a tough task – with no thanks, we suspect!

4bigstockWildBirds70503jpg.img_assist_custom-600x397Photo: Bigstockphoto / WizData

The next image is not only a beautiful capture of an olive-backed sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) approaching its amazing nest to feed its young but also proof of what flying aces parent birds have to be. Human parents can find it tough enough getting a spoonful of food into the mouths of their constantly moving babies, so imaging doing this while in flight!

6bigstockOlive-backedSunbird702813jpgPhoto: Bigstockphoto / kiankhoon

“Give me my food now!” this demanding eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) chick seems to be saying to the mother bird, which has managed to dig up a nice, juicy worm.

Looking at these images of birds dutifully stuffing food into the beaks of their young ones, one can’t help but feel for the parents, which have got to be constantly on the wing.

1bigstockFemaleEasternBluebirdFeedinPhoto: Bigstockphoto / Steve Byland

Here, we have a parent bird balancing on a branch while feeding three hungry mouths. We just love the composition of the image, with the nest perfectly placed in the fork of the tree and foliage draped almost decoratively around. Monet couldn’t have painted this any better!

7bigstockWildBirdsPhoto: Bigstockphoto / WizData

These baby barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) don’t just look hungry but positively angry, too! Maybe the food took too long to arrive! In any case, the chicks are leaning forward so much to get their goodies that they almost seem to be falling out of the nest. Watch out there, mom or dad!

8bigstockBarnSwallowChicksBeingFedPhoto: Bigstockphoto / James Norton

Speaking of tender parental attention, this mother Caribbean flamingo ( Phoenicopterus ruber ) is taking special care to make sure the bite she’s got lands safely in her fluffy chick’s mouth. Aww – nothing like a bit of spoon-feeding!

11bigstockBabyBirdOfTheCaribbeanFlaPhoto: Bigstockphoto / SUR

It does look as though feeding is a tad easier when bigger beaks are involved. Somehow it just seems to make sense that the bigger the target, the easier it should be to feed. But we could be wrong. A parent bird like this mother great blue heron (Ardea herodias) is probably better placed to clear up the question than most!

12bigstockGreatBlueHeronFeedingBabiePhoto: Bigstockphoto / Steve Byland

This photograph of a mother streak-breasted scimitar-babbler (Pomatorhinus ruficollis) feeding its young in flight is a true action shot! The photo was taken just a split second too early to capture the food changing beaks, but then we might have missed the sight of the chick’s wide-open mouth.

13bigstockPomatorhinusruficollisPhoto: Bigstockphoto / NicholasHan

Our favorite shot of the lot! Look how eager this parent tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) is to feed its young! Or overeager, we should say, as its head has literally disappeared into the chick’s mouth!

14bigstockTreeSwallowFeedingBabiesPhoto: Bigstockphoto / Steve Bylan

Not yet ready to leave this amazing topic, we’ve got a bonus pic. This tiny parent reed warbler (Acrocephalus) is feeding a humongous baby that has outgrown its nest. Except it’s not its real offspring, of course, but a common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) chick, whose mother laid its egg in the warbler’s nest so that the young bird could be fed at the expense of the unsuspecting warbler’s own chicks. This behavior is called brood parasitism and is not uncommon among birds.

bonus-ReedwarblercuckoojpgPhoto: Per Harald Olsen

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Monday, 21 November 2011

5 Creepy Urban Legends of the Natural World

urban-legend-natural-world (Images by Qilinmon, CC-SA-3.0; NOAA, public domain; Ian Carroll, CC-2.0; James, cc-2.0)

We’ve all heard those bizarre stories that always happen to a friend of a friend and appear in various forms over the years, gradually becoming ingraining into the annals of urban legend.  But in this context, “urban” doesn’t have to relate to built-up areas.  Here are five tales of the natural world that may have mundane origins, but have been extrapolated over time and now find themselves enshrined in urban myth.

Big Cats of Britain

Big Cats of Britain(Images by Ian Carroll, CC-2.0; and Babirusa, CC-SA-3.0)

Britain’s “Big Cats” have been seen by many, proven by none, and continue to terrorise the countryside by reputation if not physical presence (apart from the occasional mutilated sheep).  As such, they’ve become the perfect urban legend, existing somewhere between mundane fact and fanciful fiction.  Sightings, which date back to the eighteenth century, were popularised in the 1950s when rumours of the Surrey Puma fuelled national hysteria.

black-dog(Images by Liza Phoenix, CC-3.0; and Man vyi, public domain)

Since then, the Beast of Bodmin and Beast of Exmoor have surfaced, likened to pumas, cougars or black leopards, but never positively identified.  Some say they’re rooted in the supernatural tale of the spectral Black Dog, a horrifying beast that, according to folklore, appeared on remote moorland and inspired the Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.  The theory goes that Black Cats are merely a continuation of this myth, albeit without the supernatural element.

rugged-landscape-england(Image by Ian Carroll, CC-2.0)

But despite reports discounted as hoaxes, big cats were freely kept in Britain before being outlawed by the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976, when some were simply let loose.  Skeptics say the climate and low numbers could not sustain a breeding population, but video evidence (including footage captured by police) might suggest otherwise.

big-cats-britain(Images by Ron Singer, Lizars (both public domain), Cburnett and Andreas Tille, both CC-SA-3.0)

In 1991 a Eurasia Lynx was shot after allegedly killing around 15 sheep in two weeks.  The story wasn’t reported until 2003 and was branded a hoax.  But a 2006 police report confirmed the case, revealing another Eurasian lynx and puma had been captured alive.  It’s unclear whether these cats were recent escapees or had managed to survive on the moors undetected for years… Could there be more?

The Legend of the Albatross

The Legend of the Albatross(Images by Chris Pearson, CC-2.0; and Gustav Dore, public domain)

Seafaring folk are known to be highly superstitious, and who can blame them, with thousands of miles of open ocean and stormy weather to contend against – hence the fisherman’s chapel near old harbours.  Superstition and urban myth collide with the albatross, once described as “the most legendary of all birds” and central to Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  In the poem, the Mariner’s changing fortunes, and ultimately his curse, are attributed to him shooting the albatross.

albatross-legend(Image via Jornal “O Panorama”, public domain)

The poem helped perpetuate the myth among sailors that killing an albatross was disastrous, and the birds were even regarded as the souls of those lost at sea.  In modern terminology, “albatross around their neck” came to mean an obstacle or burden.  But in reality, sailors regularly killed and ate albatross while visiting the land of mist and snow, and the Maori carved ceremonial tattoos with its wing bones.

Sewergate: Alligators of the New York Sewers

Alligators of the New York Sewers(Images by Annie Mole and James, cc-2.0)

The legend goes that wealthy New Yorkers brought alligators back from their Florida vacations, and flushed them down the toilet when they got too big for comfort.  Nobody knows quite when this happened, but the 1920s and ’30s are considered to be the time.  Subterranean New York is now – apparently – alive with huge alligators, feasting on rats and rubbish, and scaring the bejesus out of sewer workers.  Of course, none have been caught, and weeks of hunting after alleged sightings have revealed nothing.

sewer(Image by Dominic Alves; CC-2.0)

Experts claim – logically one would think – that city sewers are not ideal environments for big reptiles, which would stuggle to reproduce.  But in his book “The World Beneath the City”, Robert Daley included a chapter “Alligators in the Sewers“, based on his interviews with Teddy May, New York’s Commissioner of Sewers for thirty years.  May even claimed to have seen a 10-foot alligator himself, and recounts the story of a worker who was horrified to see an albino alligator swimming towards him.  Weeks of hunting turned up nothing, but the “Sewergate” legend is still as popular as ever.

The Black Dog of the Hanging Hills

The Black Dog of the Hanging Hills (Image by 2112guy, public domain; inset by Liza Phoenix, CC-3.0)

We’ve already mentioned the spectral Black Dog of British folklore, but we’ll bring it up again since it seems to have manifested in America too, this time in the Hanging Hills of Connecticut.  In fact, this beast appears so many times and in so many forms, with the central theme of misfortune to whoever spots it, that it’s become something of an urban legend – or rural legend if you like.  But this hound from hell has a twist in its unwagging tail.

black-dog-of-the-hanging-hills(Images by Connecticut Quarterly and Wilhelm von Gloeden, public domain)

Unlike the terrifying Black Dog of remote Britain, the Hanging Hills dog is a small one with a reportedly gregarious nature, despite making no sound or footprints.  To see it once results in joy, while a second time brings misfortune.  A third sighting is considered an omen of death, and at least six fatalities have been blamed on the dog, reports of which perpetuate to this day.  The fact that mountains can be hazardous places in their own right appears to have been discounted.

The Longdendale Lights

Longdendale Lights(Image via NOAA, public domain)

Ghost lights” are another widely reported phenomenon.  They share similar characteristics despite their origins, appearing out of nowhere and proving unreachable to anyone who tries to pursue them.  Sightings accompany tales of the paranormal, and are often described as bright, pulsating balls of light.  One well known tale is that of the Longdendale Lights, haunting the bleak gritstone moorland of Derbyshire, northern England.

longdendale(Image by Magic Foundry, CC-2.0)

Dating back decades, perhaps even centuries, several people have gone on record about their experience of the Longdendale Lights, but reports are sporadic and often unsubstantiated.  Locals talk in whispers about the phenomenon, known to some as the Devil’s Bonfires, but often avoid the issue.  Reports range from an eerie glow illuminating the whole valley to ghostly Roman soldiers.  Locals reluctant to talk, unconfirmed sightings and – like the Black Dog – similar reports elsewhere, have helped cement the Longdendale Lights in the annals of urban legend, at least locally.  But could they be “earthquake lights“, as scientists have recently posited?

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