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The Green Anaconda is one of the world's longest snakes, reaching 5–7 m (18-23ft) long (known to be exceeded only by the reticulated python Python reticulatus). Reports of anacondas 35-40 feet also exist but such claims need to be regarded with caution as no specimens of such lengths have ever been deposited in a museum and hard evidence is required. There is a $50,000 cash reward for anyone that can catch an anaconda 30 feet or longer, but the prize has not been claimed yet. Although the reticulated python is longer, the anaconda is the heaviest snake. The longest (and heaviest) scientifically recorded specimen was a female measuring 521 cm in length and weighing 97.5 kg. The color pattern consists of olive green background overlaid with black blotches along the length of the body. The head is narrow compared to the body, usually with distinctive orange-yellow striping on either side. The eyes are set high on the head, allowing the snake to see out of the water while swimming without exposing its body. Primarily aquatic, they eat a wide variety of prey, almost anything they can manage to overpower, including fish, birds, a variety of mammals, and other reptiles. Particularly large anacondas may even consume large prey such as tapir, deer, capybara, jaguars, black caiman, and crocodiles, but such large meals are not regularly consumed. There are many local stories and legends regarding the anaconda as a man-eater, but there is very little evidence to support any such activity. They employ constriction to subdue their prey. Cannibalism among green anacondas is also known, most recorded cases involving a larger female consuming a smaller male. Scientists cite several possible reasons for this, including the dramatic sexual dimorphism in the species and the possibility that female anacondas require additional food intake after breeding to sustain their long gestation period and the male simply being an opportunistic carnivore item, but the exact reason is not understood. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





The king cobra is the world's longest venomous snake, averaging 3.6–4 m (12–13 feet) in length and typically weighing about 6 kg (13.2 lb). Despite their large size, king cobras are fast and agile. This species is widespread throughout Southeast Asia and parts of India, and is found mostly in forested areas. The king cobra can be fierce and agile, and can deliver a large quantity of highly potent venom in a single bite. It is one of the most dangerous and feared Asiatic snakes. The skin of this snake is either olive-green, tan, or black, and it has faint, pale yellow cross bands down the length of the body. The belly is cream or pale yellow, and the scales are smooth. Juveniles are shiny black with narrow yellow bands (can be mistaken for a banded krait, but readily identified with its expanded hood). The head of a mature snake can be quite massive and bulky in appearance, though like all snakes, they can expand their jaws to swallow large prey items. It has proteroglyph dentition, meaning it has two short, fixed fangs in the front of the mouth which channel venom into the prey like hypodermic needles. The male is larger and thicker than the female. The average lifespan of a king cobra is about 20 years. The king cobra is the sole member of genus Ophiophagus, while most other cobras are members of the genus Naja. They can be distinguished from other cobras by size and hood marks. King cobras are larger than other cobras, and the stripe on the neck is like the symbol "^" instead of a double or single eye(s) shape that may be seen in most of the other cobras. A foolproof method of identification if the head is clearly visible is the presence of a pair of large scales known as occipitals, at the back of the top of the head. These are behind the usual "nine-plate" arrangement typical of colubrids and elapids, and are unique to the king cobra. King cobras, like other snakes, receive chemical information via their forked tongues, which pick up scent particles and transfer them to a special sensory receptor, called the Jacobson's organ, located in the roof of its mouth. When the scent of a meal is detected, the snake flicks its tongue to gauge the prey's location ; it also uses its keen eyesight, intelligence and sensitivity to earth-borne vibration to track its prey. Following envenomation, the king cobra will begin to swallow its struggling prey while its toxins begin the digestion of its victim. The king cobra can be highly aggressive. When threatened, it raises up the anterior portion of its body, flattening the neck, showing the fangs and hissing loudly. Generally a typical snake hiss has a broad-frequency span with a dominant frequency near 7,500 Hz, whereas the "growl" of the king cobra consists of frequencies below 2,500 Hz, with a dominant frequency near 600 Hz. It is easily irritated by closely approaching objects or sudden movements. The king cobra attacks quickly, and the strike distance is about 2 m (7 feet); people can easily misjudge the safe distance. The king cobra may deliver multiple bites in a single attack, or bite and hold on. Although it is a highly dangerous snake, it prefers to escape unless it is cornered or provoked. If a king cobra encounters a natural predator, such as the mongoose, which has some resistance to the neurotoxins, the snake generally tries to flee. If unable to do so, it forms the distinctive cobra hood and emits a hiss, sometimes with feigned closed-mouth strikes. These efforts usually prove to be very effective, especially since it is more dangerous than other mongoose prey, as well as being much too large for the small mammal to kill with ease. The king cobra's genus name, Ophiophagus, means "snake-eater", and its diet consists primarily of other snakes, including ratsnakes, sizeable pythons and even other venomous snakes. When food is scarce, they may also feed on other small vertebrates, such as lizards, birds, and rodents. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



Hurricane Wilma was the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. Wilma was the twenty-second storm (including the subtropical storm discovered in reanalysis), thirteenth hurricane, sixth major hurricane, and fourth Category 5 hurricane of the record-breaking 2005 season. A tropical depression formed in the Caribbean Sea near Jamaica on October 15, and intensified into a tropical storm two days later, which was named Wilma. After heading westward as a tropical depression, Wilma turned abruptly southward after becoming a tropical storm. Wilma continued intensifying, and eventually became a hurricane on October 18. Shortly thereafter, extreme intensification occurred, and in only 24 hours, Wilma became a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 185 mph (295 km/h). Intensity slowly leveled off after becoming a Category 5 hurricane, and winds had decreased to 150 mph (240 km/h) before reaching the Yucatán Peninsula on October 20 and October 21. After crossing the Yucatán Peninsula, Wilma emerged into the Gulf of Mexico as a Category 2 hurricane. As Wilma began accelerating to the northeast, gradual re-intensification occurred, and the hurricane became a Category 3 hurricane on October 24. Shortly thereafter, Wilma made landfall in Cape Romano, Florida with winds of 120 mph (190 km/h). As Wilma was crossing Florida, it had briefly weakened back to a Category 2 hurricane, but again re-intensified as it reached the Atlantic Ocean. The hurricane intensified into a Category 3 hurricane for the final occasion, but Wilma dropped below that intensity while accelerating northeastward. By October 26, Wilma transitioned into an extratropical cyclone southeast of Nova Scotia. Wilma made several landfalls, with the most destructive effects felt in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, Cuba, and the U.S. state of Florida. At least 62 deaths were reported, and damage is estimated at $29.1 billion (2005 USD, $32.7 billion 2011 USD), $20.6 billion (2005 USD, $23.2 billion 2011 USD) of which occurred in the United States alone. As a result, Wilma is ranked among the top five most costly hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic and the fourth most costly storm in United States history. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



The Audi R18 TDI is a Le Mans Prototype (LMP) racing car constructed by the German car manufacturer Audi AG. It is the successor to the Audi R15 TDI. Like its predecessor, the R18 uses a TDI turbocharged diesel engine but with a reduced capacity of 3.7 litres and in a V6 configuration. For the first time since the 1999 R8C, Audi has chosen a closed cockpit design for their Le Mans prototype. As per the new rules the car features a stabilisation fin on the engine cover and also has a new 6-speed gearbox. The new gearbox is electrically controlled instead of pneumatically controlled, saving weight by eliminating the pneumatic system. Despite the capacity reduction, the 3.7L V6 is claimed to develop more than 397 kilowatts (532 bhp) of power. This is less than the outgoing R15, but the V6 engine's fuel consumption will more than likely be lower than that of the outgoing V10 engine on the R15. The new engine has a single Garrett TR30R VGT turbocharger, as opposed to the twin TR30R configuration of both the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP and the previous Audi R15 TDI. The R18's V6 engine exhausts inwards between the cylinder banks, where the turbocharger is placed. This is called a 'hot side inside' configuration and is opposed to the traditional configuration with each cylinder bank of a V engine exhausting outwards to their respective turbochargers. The Audi R18 is the first ever LMP car to race with full LED headlights, this case being the shape of number 1. Unlike other coupé competitors in its class, the chassis on the R18 is not composed of two halves but rather a single-piece construction for improved rigidity. The R18 has an engine cooling duct above the cockpit roof as well as redesigned rear wheel arches to channel more air to the rear wing. Like the Acura ARX-02a, Audi has chosen to install bigger and wider tyres at the front for increased contact patch. Further changes include a lower rear wing, aluminium splitters and a small duct on the front of the car for improved driver comfort within the cockpit. The 2011 ACO regulations have limited the R18's fuel tank to 65 litres. The rule changes have been tabled over the past few years in an aim to introduce greater efficiency into motorsport. In the 2011 Le Mans 24-hour race, Allan McNish and Mike Rockenfellers' cars were involved in heavy high speed collisions with slower cars. Both drivers could leave their car without serious injuries. However the remaining Audi R18 went on to win the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans by 13 seconds, continuing the domination of recent Le Mans by Audi. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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