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ecosystems

The rhinoceros, an endangered animal

Rhinoceroses appeared on Earth around 40 million years ago spreading across Asia, Africa, Europe and North America, and shared the planet with humans for millennia, as can be seen from cave paintings portraying them, found in the Chauvet Cave in…

ecosystems

An environmental quality indicator

The tundra, which is extremely rich in lichens, proved very useful to study the world’s distribution of pollutants: the wind actually carries poisons everywhere, even thousands of kilometres away. Lichens are excellent bio-indicators, i.e. natural signs that allow us to…

ecosystems

Resin from tree bark

Resin naturally forms underneath the bark of some trees, that are therefore called resinous trees. Resin, that can be easily found when walking in the woods, is used to make paints, glues and detergents. To collect it, one piece of…

ecosystems

An underground hospital

In the Russia of the Ural mountains, amidst the woods of the taigs, there is a very peculiar hospital: it is located approximately 300 metres below ground and treats disabling and chronic diseases, for instance bronchial asthma and arthrosis. It…

ecosystems

Sputnik in the steppe

The steppe was the protagonist of one of the most important events in the history of space explorations. The very first artificial satellite was launched from Kazakhstan on October 4th, 1957. It was Sputnik 1, a metal ball provided with…

ecosystems

Lemmings

One of the most typical animals of the tundra is the lemming, a small rodent. Lemmings reproduce very quickly and reach sexual maturity very early in life: when they are 38 days old, the females can already give birth. When…

ecosystems

Let’s save the baby seals

In Canada, Norway and Greenland, baby seals are killed for their skin and fur, to be sold all over the world. Italy is one of the main importers of baby sealskin, for its shoe and clothing factories. China, Korea and…

ecosystems

By train through the steppe

Number Three, this is the official name of the express train (also called Trans-Mongolian Railway), is the best and most comfortable way to visit the immense prairies of the steppe. Full of tourists from all over the world, it departs…

ecosystems

The loess

A peculiar trait of these soils is that they are easily moved by the wind: the vegetation has shallow roots,that can be further loosened by a dry spell or excessive grazing. The strong winds that blow in these tree-less areas…

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