Thursday, November 19, 2009

A BIG Celebration...

...for the return of Test cricket. As I write, the Jayawardenes are pulverising the Indian bowlers in a very slow, methodical manner (kind of like Chinese water torture) in what might not be the best advert for the format. I'm talking 711/5 and no sign of relenting.

Meanwhile, rather ominously, the West Indies are looking rather z-grade against Queensland, who have an 100+ lead with 6 wickets in hand in the first innings. All I hope is that the boys from the Caribbean have massive hangovers and this is the sole reason for the dreadful performance. If not, maybe hangovers should be on the cards - they could hardly get worse, could they?

Things are also heating up in South Africa, with the one-dayers against England scheduled to start VERY SOON (yes, I know, I haven't checked the calendar for the exact date). For me, this means a gawpfest thanks to the double-billing of Graeme Swann and AB de Villiers. For everyone else, the series will involve watching a weakened England being clubbed to death by the Saffas. Unless some of their very own Saffas to pull off a miracle. Failing that, Swanny could save the day.

But all this was the introduction (wakey wakey!). The ACTUAL BIG CELEBRATION is a little one of my own. A celebration of oversized animals around the world. Below is an interesting selection (but by no means are they all represented - maybe this could be continued later?)

Disclaimer: most info comes from Wikipedia. I'm too tired to research properly, but if it's dodgy, please tell me :)

  • Siberian tiger | at up to 3.3m long and 1.1m high at the shoulder, the Siberian tiger is the largest member of the cat family (lion fans, shut up). However, who said massive, ferocious carnivores couldn't have cute babies? Or be maternal?
  • Giant squid | until someone finds a complete un-shrunken specimen of the Colossal squid, this fellow remains the king of the invertebrates by length, although not by weight.
  • Whale shark | the biggest shark, the biggest fish, and completely harmless. Like a gigantic baby really, with its gummy mouth and blubber.
  • Blue whale | yeah, you know that.
  • Giant golden-crowned flying fox | ok, you probably didn't know about this flapper - it has a wingspan of up to 1.8m. Not sure I want to go into any caves in the Philippines anytime soon.
  • Japanese spider-crab | another pretty well-known one, it has a maximum legspan of 4m and has been reported feeding of drowning seafarers, although it is also reportedly quite docile. All these conflicting reports...
  • Japanese giant salamander | not officially the largest salamander (that belongs to China) but the one boasting the largest recent specimens. This thing reaches up to 1.5m in length including tail, is aggressively territorial, nocturnal and haunts storm water drains. Kind of like a bunyip, I guess.
  • Southern elephant seal | while everyone gets excited about lions, tigers and bears, the largest carnivorous mammal is actually this bloke. The bull grows up to 6.9m in length - that's 2m longer than a car - and they're very territorial among themselves, although fights are rarely fatal.
  • Ocean sunfish | the heaviest bony fish, this one grows up to 3.3m in length and 4.5m in height and likes sunbathing.
  • Fish tapeworm | enough to put you off your sushi, this one. Grows to 20m in length in your intestines and lays up to 1 million eggs per day. They are transferred to humans through raw or undercooked fish.
  • Giant ribbon worm | this one thankfully doesn't live inside us - it's been reported up to 55m long but is usually anywhere between 5mm and 30m in length.
  • North Pacific giant octopus | not as big as the largest squids but in my mind more frightening (because octopuses just ARE) with a tentacle span of 7m.
  • Oarfish | believed to be the source of many sea serpent tales, this is the longest bony fish, growing to a length of up to 11m. However, it has no teeth, unlike the significantly shorter (but much more fearsome) giant moray eel.
  • Tarantula hawk | tiny compared with the rest of our friends listed here, but massive for a wasp, this grows up to 5cm long and eats tarantulas. Its sting is reputedly one of the most painful from an insect. Badass!
Okay, kids. Zoology lesson's over. Back to the cricket, where Sri Lanka have declared.

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