2014 Favorites, Part 2 of 2

Below are a few of my favorite landscape shots of 2014. Unless identified otherwise all were taken within a few miles of our home in central Ohio

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Alum Creek State Park

 

 

 

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Waterfall, Griggs Reservoir

 

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West Highland Way, Scotland

 

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West Highland Way, Scotland

 

 

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Alum Creek

 

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Battelle Darby Metro Park

 

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Griggs Reservoir

 

 

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Scioto River below Griggs dam

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Tree roots and snow, Scioto Ricer

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Griggs Park

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Scioto River through the trees

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Fallen tree, High Banks Metro Park

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Tree roots and leaves, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Autumn, High Banks Metro Park

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Autumn along the Scioto River

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Griggs Reservoir

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Island on Devoe Lake, Michigan

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Sunset, Devoe Lake Michigan

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North end of Griggs Reservoir

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Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Paint Creek

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Cliffs along Paint Creek

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Alum Creek Reservoir

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High water, Scioto River

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Creek, Alum Creek Reservoir

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Fallen trees, Prairie Oks Metro Park

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 Wishing you all the best for 2015!

Sometimes Less Is More

 

A few weeks back a deal by one of the major internet retailers of $297 for a Panasonic FZ200 prompted me to pull the trigger for two. One for my wife and one for myself. It’s a camera I’ve been looking at for some time due to a fast 2.8 lens throughout it’s zoom range. My wife’s FZ150, even with it’s slower lens, has consistently produced pictures of higher technical quality than my Canon SX40. The Canon has produced some very good images but it’s just not quiet a match given the type of shooting we do given it’s slower focus speed, difficulty focusing in shady areas, and sharpness issues at full zoom.

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Why a super zoom rather than a DSLR you might ask. Generally it’s because we often do rather long hikes and lugging my DSLR “bird camera”, in addition to our always mandatory binoculars, not to mention extra clothing, food, and water, would take away from the experience of being there. Also, our pictures only need to be good enough to tell a story on this blog. To date no one has offered to compensate us for our “photographic excellence” so spending large amounts of money in the pursuit of image quality is hard to justify. The FZ200 gives up some reach over many of the other super zooms, including my SX40, but I haven’t found a longer zoom coupled with the EVF of most super zooms to be particularly useful for small critters that move fast. Having said all this, it goes without saying that super zooms aren’t for everyone. Modern DSLR’s offer image quality and control that’s not easy, and in most cases impossible, for a super zoom with it’s small sensor to duplicate and that say’s nothing of the ability of a DSLR coupled with a good lens to get the picture when high ISO’s and fast focus are required. So we have to accept that with our super zooms some pictures will always be out of reach.

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So far theFZ200 has been a joy to use. Below are some initial photos from the last few days. Still working on a few adjustments to get the most out of the camera.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, study 1

 

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, study 2

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, study 3, Donna

 

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White-throated Sparrow

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Red-bellied Woodpecker

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Red-tailed Hawk

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Downy Woodpecker

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Downy Woodpecker, Donna

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Kingfisher, a little to far away.

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Nuthatch, Donna

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Gray Squirrel

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Landscape along the Scioto River

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Trees along the Scioto River

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Bald Eagle a little too far away

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Fungi, Donna

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Fungi, Donna

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Whatever camera you use I hope you find time to get out and enjoy nature in your neighborhood.

 

 

2014 Favorites, Part 1 of 2

Thought I’d have a little fun looking through some of our pictures from the past year and picking out some of my favorites. A photographic stream of consciousness. My wife continues to make many beautiful  contributions to the pictures on our blog.

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Bluebird, Griggs Park

 

Scioto River Landscape

Scioto River Landscape

Tufted Titmouse fluffed up against the cold.

Tufted Titmouse fluffed up against the cold.

Red-tailed Hawk, study 1

Red-tailed Hawk, Griggs Park

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Carolina Wren, front yard.

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Nuthatch, Front yard.

 

Pileated Woodpecker Koreshan State Hist Site

Pileated Woodpecker Koreshan State Hist Site

Zebra Longwing Koreshan State Hist Site

Zebra Longwing Koreshan State Hist Site

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Swan in ice, Griggs Reservoir

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Purple Gullinule, lorida

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In flight, Florida

 

Spoonbill

Spoonbill

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Paddling the mangroves, Florida

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Black and white warbler, Florida

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Bald Eagle, Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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White-throated sparrow, Griggs Park

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Goldeneyes, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Willets in the surf, Florida

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Song Sparrow, Griggs Park

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Loon, spring migration, Columbus quarry.

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Horned Grebe, spring migration, Columbus quarry.

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Box turtle, a rare find, Battelle Derby Creek Metro Park

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Hepatica, Alum Creek State Park

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Trillium, spring woods, central Ohio

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Crawfish, Scioto River

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Yellow-throated warbler, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Flowering wild ginger, Griggs Park

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A gathering of turtles, Scioto River below Griggs Dam

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Palm Warbler, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Baltimore Oriole, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Scarlet Tanager, along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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Mallard ducklings, Griggs Reservoir

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Spotted Sandpiper, Griggs Reservoir

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Female Mallard with ducklings, Griggs Reservoir

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Prothonatary warbler, central Ohio.

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Spinney Soft-shell Turtles, central Ohio.

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Brown Thrasher, Georgia

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Yellow warbler, central Ohio

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B-17G fly over, Columbus

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Indigo Bunting, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Eastern Meadowlark, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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Cedar Waxwing, Griggs Park

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Clouded Sulfurs, Griggs Park

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Bald Eagle, Scioto River north of Columbus.

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West Highland Way, Scotland

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West Highland Way

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Griggs Reservoir

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Osprey, Griggs Reservoir

 

Holiday Wishes

Holiday Wishes

What do you need to do to get a drink around here?

The other morning it was below freezing when I looked out the window and observed a Downy Woodpecker getting a drink. Had snow been on the ground I doubt it would have gone to this much trouble. But then again, who really knows the mind of a woodpecker.

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Downy Woodpecker at frozen bird bath.

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That water is hard!

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Sending some more ice particles flying..

 

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Later that day we explored the area along Griggs Reservoir and the Scioto river to see if any new migrating ducks had taken up residence or if a Bald Eagle might be about.

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We did see a Common Merganser, Ruddy Ducks, Canada Geese, Ring-billed Gulls on the reservoir and an immature Red-tailed Hawk along the river, but alas, no Bald Eagle.

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Red-tailed Hawk along the Scioto

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Common Merganser (a little too far away for a good pic), Griggs Reservoir

 

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My wife continued her quest to discover interesting fungi and lichen.

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Furry white fungi (Schizophyllum commune), (Donna)

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Tree stump, (Donna)

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Lichen, (Donna)

 

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While I managed to get a nice shot of a Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Blue Bird even made an appearance.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker, Griggs Park

 

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Blue Bird, Griggs Park

 

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Thanks for looking in.

 

Bobbing For “Hedge Apples”

A few weeks back we were walking along Griggs Reservoir looking for migrating waterfowl and we witnessed some unusual behavior by our resident population of Mallard ducks. At first it looked like a game, perhaps a Mallard version of water polo, but then we realized they were attempting to eat an object that keep scooting away , diving below the surface, and then bobbing up only to be nibbled on again.

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They went this way   .   .   .

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then that   .   .   .

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then around   .   .   .

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and back again

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It turned out to be the bright green barely floating fruit of an Osage Orange tree or what is sometimes referred to as a “hedge apple”. Apparently a somewhat tasty morsel to the ducks because they keep up their efforts as long as we watched.

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Meanwhile one of the objects of our quest looked on.

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“What are those Mallards doing anyway?”, Ruddy Duck, Griggs Reservoir

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“Perhaps the other side of the lake will be quieter”, Ruddy Duck, Griggs Reservoir

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A few days later on another outing along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, as I looked for Bald Eagles, my wife was able to get some interesting shots of fungi.

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“Furry Fungi”, Donna

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Patterns in wood, (Donna)

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Mushroom Cluster, (Donna)

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Mushrooms on a log, (Donna)

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Another group, (Donna)

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Contrasting colors, (Donna)

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Finally, yesterday, after several rainy cloudy days, sunshine meant a hike at Battelle Darby Metro Park in the hopes of observing some bird activity. Perhaps we would even see a Northern Harrier.  While no harriers presented themselves, we did see a Kestrel, and a Bald Eagle both of which eluded the cameras lens. However, a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk did pose for us.

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Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, study 1, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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study 2

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study 3

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study 4

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study 5

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A Coopers Hawk wasen’t quite as cooperative.

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Coopers Hawk, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

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.    .    .    and no trip into the central Ohio woods this time of the year is complete unless we see our friends the Golden Crowned Kinglets who often when seen are in the company of Chickadees, Titmouse and Nuthatches.

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park, (Donna)

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Golden-crowned Kinglet, (Donna)

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Golden-crowned Kinglet

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That’s about it for this post. Hope you all have a chance to get out and enjoy nature in the coming days. Thanks for looking in.

A Tree Not To Be Trifled With

Nature in Ohio this time of year offer it’s own subtle beauty.

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Scioto River

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But any time of the year a walk in the Ohio woods will quite likely take you by a tree that at first is hard to understand. We’re used to seeing or learning about plants that have different types of defense mechanisms. Certainly anyone who has tried to remove thistles from their garden has had a first hand experience. Osage Oranges thrive in Ohio and approaching a bird through their tangle is likely to result in a painful stick. They are common in Ohio no doubt because, prior to the advent of barbed wire, they were planted by farmers to contain livestock. Then there are plants that rely on toxins or bad taste to deter predators.

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Osage Orange, from a previous post, Griggs Park

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But the tree I’m referring to has physical defenses that far exceed anything else in the woods. Currently there is no animal in Ohio feeding on buds and leaves that is formidable enough for these defenses to be effective. So what gives?

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Honey Locust, Griggs Park

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Close up of Honey Locust thorns (two to three inches long), Griggs Park

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The thorns are not restricted to the trunk

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It turns out that a look into our past and a visit to Orton Hall on the Ohio State University campus solves the mystery.

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Giant Ground Sloth, Orton Hall, OSU

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Giant Ground Sloth, study 2, Orton Hall, OSU

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Megalonyx Jeffersoni

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It turns out that we are looking at the results of an evolutionary arms race between plant and animal that ended around eleven thousand years ago. It would appear that the plant was the winner as no ground sloughs can now be found in Ohio. But is isn’t that simple, in addition to other factors that may have contributed to their demise it is thought that early bands of hunting humans may have been a large factor.

So the next time a walk in the woods offers you something that just doesn’t make sense, have some fun and ask yourself why.

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