Brusio Spiral Viaduct, Switzerland

The Brusio spiral viaduct is a single track nine-arched stone spiral railway viaduct located in Brusio, in the Canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. Like most spiral tracks, the Brusio spiral viaduct was built to allow trains to gain elevation in a relatively short distance. The spiral viaduct is 110 meters long, has a horizontal radius of curvature of 70 meters, a longitudinal slope of 7%, and is made up of nine spans, each 10 meters in length. The viaduct lifts the train by 20 meters.

The Brusio spiral viaduct forms part of the Bernina Railway section between Brusio and Campascio, and is approximately 55 kilometres from St. Moritz. The stone-built viaduct was opened on 1 July 1908, upon the opening of the Tirano–Poschiavo section of the Bernina Railway. In 1943, the whole of that railway company was taken over by the Rhaetian Railway, which still owns and uses the spiral viaduct today.

40 seconds after passing under the viaduct near Brusio, BERNINA EXPRESS 960 Tirano-Davos with Allegra trainset ABe 8/12 3505 "Giovanni Segantini" and 6 panorama coaches is completing the spiral. In the middle the temporary labyrinth, an installation for the 100th anniversary of the Bernina line.


The Smallest Mongkey in the World

The pygmy marmoset is a tiny primate that is native to rainforests of the western Amazon Basin in South America. At just 100 grams, the pygmy marmoset is known to be the smallest known species of monkey in the world. It averages at about 15cm in height with a 20cm long tail behind it.

The pygmy marmoset has sharp claws which make the pygmy marmoset excellent at climbing trees and the long tail of the pygmy marmoset gives this little monkey fantastic balance when jumping between tree branches. The low weight of the pygmy marmoset allows the pygmy marmoset to reach the canopy tree tops, a place where many of the larger species of monkey cannot reach. They are also able to turn their heads 180 degrees, an adaptation which allows them to scan the environment for predators while vertically clinging to a tree.

The pygmy marmoset survive on a specialized diet of tree gum. It gnaws holes in the bark of appropriate trees and vines with its specialized dentition to elicit the production of gum. When the sap puddles up in the hole, it laps it up with its tongue. It also lies in wait for insects, especially butterflies, which are attracted to the sap holes. It supplements its diet with berries, nectar and fruit.

The pygmy marmoset has been increasingly popular as an exotic pet, but they are very hard to keep. When a baby pygmy marmoset is taken away from the family it can often die quickly due to depression. Baby pygmy marmosets also need feeding every two hours for their first two weeks in the world so they can be very time-consuming pets. Pet pygmy marmosets can take a grave dislike towards their owners and some have been known to bite their owners and throw feces at them, as a form of attack.


Cenotes in Yucatan Peninsula

Cenotes are natural pits or sinkholes resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. They are especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, which is primarily made up of porous limestone. For millions of years, rainfall slowly ate away at the limestone and a huge system of underground caves and caverns was formed. Many filled with water from rain or from the underground water table. When the roof of a water filled cave collapses, a cenote is born. There are an estimated 7,000 cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula.

Cenote comes from the Mayan word “dzonot” or “ts’onot” which means sacred well, and had great significance for the Maya. First, they represented the main water supply in a land that has no surface water bodies and suffers long dry seasons. As a consequence, all Mayan villages were built in the vicinity of a cenote, in order to secure a permanent water supply. Second, cenotes were also important for religious reasons. They believed cenotes to be portals to the underworld and a way to communicate with the gods. Archaeological research has found evidence of religious ceremonies that took place in or around cenotes, including human sacrifices.

While the best-known cenotes are large open water pools measuring tens of meters in diameter, such as those at Chichén Itzá, the greatest number of cenotes are smaller sheltered sites and do not necessarily have any surface exposed water.

Cenote water is often very clear, as the water comes from rain water filtering slowly through the ground, and therefore contains very little suspended particulate matter. This have attracted swimmers and cave divers from around the world who have documented extensive flooded cave systems, some of which have been explored for lengths of 100 km or more.

Some cenotes have been turned into public swimming pools of sorts. One of the best examples is the Cenote Zaci, located in Valladolid. Another cenote with some tourist infrastructure is the Cenote San Ignacio, in Chochola. This cenote is artificially lit and has an adjoining restaurant and other services that make for a more comfortable visit. Finally, the facilities at Cenote Sambula, in Motul, were recently remodeled.