Sigiriya - Fortified Palace Built on the Rock

Sigiriya or Lion Rock, in Sinhalese, is located in the central Matale District of the Central Province, Sri Lanka in an area dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters high. At the summit of the rock is the fortified palace built by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 AD), son of Dhatusena, who came to power after he engineered the assassination of his father and seized the throne which rightfully belonged to his brother Mogallana. Fearing the vengeance of the brother, Kasyapa had a fortified palace built on the rock of Sigiriya which was reputed to be impregnable. The rock is surrounded by two wide moats, where crocodiles were introduced. During the eleven years that Kasyapa resided in Sigiriya, he created a residence of exceptional splendor and founded his capital there, impressive vestiges of which are still visible today. Mogallana finally arrived and declared war on the King. After a short but cruel battle in 495, Kasyapa committed suicide by cutting his own throat. Moggallana returned the capital to its original location Anuradapura, and converted Sigiriya into a monastery complex.

The magnificent rock fortress is visible for miles from all directions and dominates the surrounding plain. At the foot of the rock are the two quarters of the lower city which are defended by a massive wall, and the aristocratic quarter of the capital of Kassapa I, noteworthy for its terraced gardens embellished by canals and fountains, that extend for some hundreds of meters out from the base of the rock.

There is a stone stairway leading from the base to the top of the mountain. About half way to the top, there is a pair of giant lions paws which once served as the entrance to the royal palace. There is evidence to show that the lion structure was originally much larger and extended – head and shoulders out of the rock in a crouched position. The cuts and grooves on the rock above the paws indicate that the lion structure- built with brick masonry and limestone, presumably with a timber framework, was some 14 meters in height.

The palace ruins now mostly consist of retaining walls and foundations. No one is exactly sure of the exact functions of the various spaces. The only surviving relic are the frescoes that adorn the rock surface. The paintings would have covered most of the western face of the rock, covering an area 140 meters long and 40 meters high. There are references in the graffiti to 500 ladies in these paintings.

Sigiriya today is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site and one of the most visited historic site in Sri Lanka.


Top 10 Unique Genitalia In the Animal Kingdom

We humans have made genitals such a convoluted and taboo topic, that even a mention of them will evoke at least one red face in every crowd. But animals have taken them in a different direction — some way farther than others. While size may not matter to them, barbs, explosions, and hypodermic needles just might.

10. The Sea Slug’s Hypodermic Penis

The brightly colored sea slug Siphopteron quadrispinosum carries a penis that functions roughly in the same manner as a hypodermic needle. The appendage, outfitted with several large hooks at its base and spines on the tip, is designed to attach firmly to the female (more or less, anyways; sea slugs are hermaphroditic) and stab her, injecting her with prostate fluids. With such a viciously adorned penis, sea slugs can inflict quite a bit of damage on their partners, but researchers think that the benefits of such aggressive mating practices actually increase fertility and the chance to reproduce.

9. Shark Claspers (Double Penis)

Apparently one penis isn’t enough for sharks. Nope, they need two of them. Each organ, or “clasper”, is actually a tight roll of cartilage that stiffens during arousal. So it’s a functioning penis, but with a bit of a twist. Once it’s inserted into a partner, it expands greatly, much like an umbrella, in order to anchor the sharks together. Oh, and did we mention it also has “spurs?” Clearly, sharks like it rough.

Despite the fact that it’s got two, sharks only seem to use one penis at a time, leaving scientists to think that maybe the other one simply serves as an extra, in case of malfunction, perhaps. Most of the guys out there have had at least one drunken night where a backup weenie would’ve come in handy, so why is that gift wasted on a damn shark?

8. Turtles Have Truly Enormous Penises

Turtles and tortoises are unnervingly large where it counts. When aroused, a turtle’s penis can increase by 50% in length, 75% in girth and 10% in depth. In most turtles, the fully engorged organ reaches well up to, or even past, half their total body length. So when you’re dealing with, say, the 8-foot-long Leatherback sea turtle, we’re dealing with a penis that’s up to six feet long. It’s thought that turtles might wield such a mighty sword as a defense and intimidation mechanism, as well as a sexual tool. In that case, it worked; we’re scared to death of the very idea.

7. Polar Bear Genitals Are Shrinking

The increasing amount of pollution in the Arctic doesn’t bode well for polar bears, who are feeling it where it really hurts. Polar bears are already very slow to reproduce, with a minuscule sex drive, and several years needed in order to reach sexual maturity. The problem of the mysterious shrinking genitals is probably only going to make matters worse, and scientists fear that polar bears may be in actual danger of losing the will to reproduce entirely.

6. The Echidna’s 4-Headed Penis

Echidnae, like the platypus, are monotremes, meaning that they’re egg-laying mammals. As if that wasn’t weird enough, they’ve also got a penis with four distinct heads. This is very confusing to biologists because the female echidna only has two vaginal openings (yeah sure, “only”,) but some have arrived at the conclusion that the echidna’s extraordinary organ is “a double double-barrel shotgun“, designed to increase the chances of successful fertilization by means of shear volume.

5. The Water Boatman’s Penis Can Reach 100 Decibels

The water boatman, a tiny two-millimeter water-dwelling beetle, can sing with their penis. How? Well, they utilize a process called “stridulation,” which involves rubbing two ridged surfaces together to make noise. Crickets famously do it with with their legs, but water boatmen prefer to use their naughty parts.

Their penile tones, by the way, can create a sound wave of nearly 100 decibels. That’s the equivalent of sitting in the front row of a large orchestra concert, and they do it with their penis. Their songs can be heard by passersby above the water, and the sound of the calls underwater is as loud as a passing freight train.

4. Harvest Mice Have Penises Half The Length Of Their Body

The humble harvest mouse is not generally regarded as a terribly well-endowed animal, which is unfortunate, because they have the largest proportional penis length of any rodent. A harvest mouse that grows to be 15 mm long may have an 8 mm penis, more than half its body length. Pretty impressive for a mouse so, if somebody tries to rib you by saying you’re hung like one, remember to thank them for the incredible compliment.

They didn’t evolve this way just to look like mouse studs, by the way; in rodent communities, where animal promiscuity is commonplace, average penis length skyrockets to account for the competition. Drunken broskis at a bar do this too, right before the cops come to take them away. Luckily for the harvest mouse, it’s more acceptable when they do it.

3. Fruit Flies Have Sperm 20 Times Longer Than Their Bodies

The fruit fly is one of the smallest, simplest, and most annoying creatures on Earth, frequently seen both as a household nuisance and a high school biology subject. But these macroscopic invertebrates are hiding a secret, and it’s huge — “20 times the length of its body” huge.

Drosophila bifurca is a species of fruit fly that produces sperm over 2 inches long. Considering the fly itself is only about a tenth of an inch long, this is significant, to say the least. Researchers think the sperm evolved to such a bizarre length to maneuver the female’s complex reproductive system, which may even secrete chemicals to kill the sperm. Proportionally, a 6-foot tall man would have sperm nearly 120 feet long to impress that cute fruit fly lady in the corner.

2. The Mosquitofish’s Hooked Penis

Llanos mosquitofish live in Mexico, with males typically only reaching about 1.5 inches in length, and females topping out around 2 inches. Females have evolved a sort of door-latch mechanism over their genital pore, that allows them to block the entrance to undesirable suitors. To combat this defense, males have evolved a fearsome penis with 4 barbs on it, thought to force its way into the female in order to successfully deposit sperm. Never mind what we said about the sharks earlier; the mosquitofish truly likes it rough.

1. Wasp Spiders Have Exploding Genitals

Male wasp spiders don’t technically have penises. Instead, they use silk to form a ball of sperm, which they insert into the female using their pedipalps (the small arms located on a spider’s mouthparts.) Since spiders only get one chance to mate with a female, they’ve evolved a strange process in order to ensure their genes reach the egg first: they break off their modified genitals inside the female to impede any other partners. Afterwards, the female tends to eat the male, meaning Hall and Oates were singing about the wrong species all along.

Once these genitals are inside the female, by the way, it becomes extra difficult for any additional males to come along and sweep her off her many, many feet. Scientists have observed that subsequent mating attempts by other males (the spider version of sloppy seconds, basically) lasted less than half as long, and were largely unsuccessful. At least they won’t get eaten. Unless she’s still hungry, that is


Raised Footprints on Snow

In extremely cold places, such as in Antarctica or in high altitudes, sometimes you get to see a peculiar phenomenon – footprints that are raised rather than depressed in the snow. What actually happens is when you step in the snow, the snow gets compressed and hardens, and then the wind blows the loose snow away leaving the once sunken footprints standing hard and proud on the surface. Eventually, the hardened snow gets eroded as well, but it takes weeks or even months. Raised snow footprints can last quite a while before all traces of the footprints are eroded away.

Because it requires more than a gale to blow away snow, raised footprints are often taken as an indicator of windslab and in mountain slopes, as potential avalanche danger. This is why you won’t see raised footprints in your backyard, unless you live in McMurdo.

Raised footprints on the summit of Blencathra, England.

Raised footprint in Snowdonia, north Wales.

Raised footprint near McMurdo Station.

Raised footprint near McMurdo Station.

Raised footprint near McMurdo Station.

Raised footprint near McMurdo Station.

Raised footprint near McMurdo Station.

Raised footprint near McMurdo Station.

Raised dog footprints in Antarctica.

Raised footprints in Anie, Stirling, Great Britain.

Raised footprints on Foulshiels Hill, Great Britain.

Raised footprints on Bear Mountain, Alaska


Laguna Roja - Red Lagoon of Chile

In the town of Camina, in northern Chile, 147 km from the city of Iquique, and approximately 3,700 meters above sea level, lies a strange Red Lagoon. The waters of the lagoon is so intense red that it seems like ink or blood. The lake was known to locals, but unknown even to the National Service of Tourism until 2009, although several miles downstream lies the Caritaya Reservoir.

This area has historically been populated by the Aymara culture and ancient civilization, who have managed to preserve the secrets and legends of its land, and which have just recently been revealed. Like the mysterious curses that have been associated with Egyptian tombs, this red pool is possesses by a curse that affects those who approach its red waters. That's why nobody knows where it is exactly and it does not appear on maps. The disappearance of thousands of Aymaras is also attributed to this lake because they drank from its waters.

The red lagoon is surrounded by two other pools of yellow and green water, and they are said to bubble when surrounded by unpleasant people. it is therefore common belief that these accumulations of colored water are owned by the devil himself. According to a few experts the color is due to different species of algae living in its depths.