[Daily article] August 24: Voalavo

Voalavo is a genus of rodent in the subfamily Nesomyinae, found only in
Madagascar. Two species are known, both of which live in mountain forest
above 1250 m (4100 ft) altitude; V. gymnocaudus lives in northern
Madagascar and V. antsahabensis is restricted to a small area in the
central part of the island. The genus was discovered in 1994 and
formally described in 1998. Within Nesomyinae, it is most closely
related to the genus Eliurus, and DNA sequence data suggest that the
current definitions of these two genera need to be changed. Species of
Voalavo are small, gray, mouse-like rodents, among the smallest
nesomyines. They lack the distinctive tuft of long hairs on the tail
that is characteristic of Eliurus. The tail is long and females have six
mammae. In Voalavo, there are two glands on the chest (absent in
Eliurus) that produce a sweet-smelling musk in breeding males. In the
skull, the facial skeleton is long and the braincase is smooth. The
molars are somewhat high-crowned, though less so than in Eliurus, and
the third molars are reduced in size and complexity.

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Today’s selected anniversaries:


According to estimates based on the Codex Laurentianus Mediceus,
Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the Italian towns of Pompeii,
Herculaneum, and Stabiae in rock and ash.


War of 1812: British forces invaded Washington, D.C., setting
fire to various US government buildings, including what is now the White
House (damage pictured).


World War I: The Battle of Cer ended as the first Allied
victory in the war.


Adolf Hitler ordered the official termination of the T4
euthanasia program of the mentally ill and disabled, although killings
continued in secret for the remainder of the war.


The International Astronomical Union redefined the term
“planet”, reclassifying Pluto as a dwarf planet since it has not
“cleared the neighbourhood” around its orbit.

Wiktionary’s word of the day:

1. (botany) The eye of a bean or other seed; the mark or scar at the point
of attachment of an ovule or seed to its base or support.
2. (botany) The nucleus of a starch grain.
3. (anatomy) A depression or fissure through which ducts, nerves, or blood
vessels enter and leave a gland or organ; a porta.

Wikiquote quote of the day:

  To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is
based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty,
but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to
emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see
only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember
those times and places — and there are so many — where people have
behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least
the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different
direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to
wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite
succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should
live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous
–Howard Zinn

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