The fourth OpenUp! Newsletter has recently been published at the project website.
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The death cap is one of the most poisonous mushrooms in the northern hemisphere. However, did you know that food prepared with a death cap is extremely tasty?
Look at one of the most poisonous plants in Europe - deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna). Did you know that in the early and middle ages, women of all ages rubbed belladonna juice into their eyes to make them large and beautiful, from which also comes the species name of the plant (bella donna = beautiful woman)?
The winter is slowly ending; snow is melting and we dedicate a short piece to one of the largest mammals from the last Ice Age – the woolly mammoth (Mamuthus primigenius).
Our new Content Highlight is about beautiful, but deadly beetle. Did you know that in the past powder from Spanish fly had been used by women to abort pregnancy?
Spanish fly is a 2 cm long metallic green beetle of Meloidae family (Blister Beetles). It can be found primarily in warm climates in Europe and Asia. This beetle feeds on leaves of ash, privet and others deciduous trees. Spanish fly has a very complicated development, going through several larval stages which parasitize on solitary bees.
Did you know that today (February 27) is The International Polar Bear Day?
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) grows up to 2.6 m and can be simply recognized by a thick white fur. Together with Kodiak bear, the polar bear is the largest land carnivore (order Carnivora). Polar bears are widespread in the whole Arctic region. They prefer floating pack ice which they use for traveling. Thus, their geographic range usually reaches the southern area of floating ice.
If you like Japanese food, be careful when you try fugu. Some organs of this fish are very poisonous. The chef, who wants to prepare the fugu, must go through a three-year training to recieve a special license.
Be aware that some plants in parks and gardens could be poisonous, especially for children. One of them is Common Laburnum. And did you know that during First World War, experiments were conducted aimed at using laburnum to replace tobacco, because the principal psychoactive chemical is cytosine, which has similar effects to nicotine?
Do you like picking wild mushrooms? If so, be careful not to pick a Funeral Bell, because they are almost as dangerous as the much better-known death caps (Amanita phalloides), and even contain similar toxins.
Do spiders creep you out? If so, Atrax robustus could be a nightmare for you! This guy often lives in courtyards in Sydney's suburbs. And did you know that in some parts of Australia, Atrax spiders are considered more dangerous than poisonous snakes?