Wikipedia:Today's featured article/January 2021

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January 1

AFSWP patch
AFSWP patch

The Armed Forces Special Weapons Project (AFSWP) was a United States military agency responsible for those aspects of nuclear weapons that remained under military control after the Manhattan Project was succeeded by the Atomic Energy Commission on 1 January 1947. These included the maintenance, storage, security and handling of nuclear weapons, and support for nuclear weapons testing. Early nuclear weapons were complex and cumbersome, and stored as components rather than complete devices due to the short shelf life of their lead-acid batteries and modulated neutron initiators, and the heat generated by the fissile cores. As nuclear weapons development proceeded, mass-produced models became available that were easier to store, handle, maintain and assemble, and the AFSWP became more involved in stockpile management, and providing administrative, technical and logistical support. In 1959, the AFSWP became the Defense Atomic Support Agency (DASA), a field agency of the Department of Defense. (Full article...)

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January 2

Perijá tapaculo

The Perijá tapaculo (Scytalopus perijanus) is a species of passerine bird in the tapaculo family. Endemic to the Serranía del Perijá mountain range on the Colombia–Venezuela border, it is found at altitudes of 1,600–3,225 metres (5,200–10,600 feet). It measures 10 to 12 centimetres (3.9 to 4.7 inches), and its tail is 40 mm (1.6 in) long. Specimens occurred in museums, but this species was only described in 2015 based on sixteen birds found between 2008 and 2009. It is considered vulnerable. Adults have grey heads, brown necks, brown-sepia-striped backs, and grey-white bellies, breasts, and throats. Males have some buff markings on their breasts, and less defined brown nape spots than females. This tapaculo is secretive and therefore difficult to observe, so its ecology is poorly known. It feeds on insects and reproduces between April and July. Its range is partially within Chamicero de Perijá Bird Reserve in Colombia and the Sierra de Perijá National Park in Venezuela. (Full article...)

January 3

Mike Norton
Mike Norton

Revival is an American horror comics series created by writer Tim Seeley and artist Mike Norton (pictured). The pair worked with colorist Mark Englert and cover artist Jenny Frison to produce the series, which was published by Image Comics as 47 monthly issues released between July 2012 and February 2017. It has since been reprinted in both paperback and hardcover editions. Set in central Wisconsin, Revival follows the aftermath of the dead coming back to life. The story is centered on detective Dana Cypress and her sister Em, who was revived one day after she was murdered. As they investigate, they find that the motive behind Em's murder is linked to her revival. The series was nominated for three Harvey Awards in 2013, and Frison was nominated in the Best Cover Artist category in 2013 and 2015 in part because of her work on the series. Diamond Select Toys has released a Minimate toy of Em Cypress. (Full article...)

January 4

Clock tower in Skegness
Clock tower in Skegness

Skegness is an English seaside town on the North Sea coast of Lincolnshire with 19,579 residents. The original Skegness was situated farther east but much of it was lost to the sea in the 1520s after the natural sea defences which protected its medieval harbour eroded. Rebuilt along the new shoreline, early modern Skegness was a fishing and farming village. From the late 18th century members of the local gentry visited for holidays. After the railways arrived in 1873, the major landowner turned the town into a seaside resort. It became a popular destination for holiday-makers from East Midlands factory towns such as Nottingham and Leicester. Despite the advent of the package holiday abroad in the 1970s, Skegness has a loyal visitor base; it has attracted new tourists and its affordability has fuelled a rise in visitor numbers since the 2010s recession. With a reputation as a traditional English seaside resort, the town received over 1.4 million visitors in 2015. (Full article...)

January 5

Pacific blue-eye

The Pacific blue-eye (Pseudomugil signifer) is a species of fish in the subfamily Pseudomugilinae native to eastern Australia. Described by Austrian naturalist Rudolf Kner in 1866, it comprises two subspecies that have been regarded as separate species in the past and may be once again with further study. It is a common fish of rivers and estuaries along the eastern seaboard from Cape York in north Queensland to southern New South Wales. The ranges of the two subspecies are divided by the Burdekin Gap in central-north Queensland. A small silvery fish averaging around 3–3.5 cm (1+181+38 in) in total length, the Pacific blue-eye is recognisable by its blue eye ring and two dorsal fins. It forms loose schools of tens to thousands of individuals. It eats water-borne insects as well as flying insects that land on the water's surface, foraging for them by sight. The Pacific blue-eye adapts readily to captivity. (Full article...)

January 6

Robin Williams
Robin Williams

The second season of Homicide: Life on the Street, a US police drama TV series, originally aired in the US in January 1994. Low ratings during the first season meant NBC ordered only four episodes before deciding whether to renew the show. The original cast returned for this season, the last to include Jon Polito. Jean de Segonzac was director of photography and Chris Tergesen was the music coordinator. "Bop Gun", was the last episode filmed, but became the season premiere due to a guest appearance by Robin Williams (pictured). The episodes "See No Evil" and "Black and Blue" featured a police shooting based on a real-life incident. Guest stars in this season also included Julianna Margulies, Wilford Brimley, Isaiah Washington, Adrienne Shelly and a young Jake Gyllenhaal. Homicide received generally positive reviews, and the show received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor for Williams. NBC demanded further changes to the show before committing to a third season. (Full article...)

January 7

Horseshoe bats are a family of more than 100 bat species. They are found throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. While many are brown, some species have black, reddish, or orange fur. They are small, weighing less than 30 g (1.1 oz), and are named after the horseshoe-shaped flap of skin on their noses, which helps them echolocate. They use echolocation to navigate and to forage for their prey of insects and spiders, maneuvering more slowly in flight than most bats. In colder regions, they hibernate during the winter months. Mating may occur in the spring or fall depending on the species, with gestation lasting about seven weeks before a single offspring is born. Typical lifespans are around six or seven years, though they can be as long as thirty years for some individuals. Dozens of SARS-related coronaviruses have been documented in horseshoe bats, which are hunted for food in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. (Full article...)

January 8


Sagitta is a dim but distinctive constellation in the northern sky. Its name is Latin for 'arrow', and it should not be confused with the larger constellation Sagittarius, the archer. It was included among the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations defined by the International Astronomical Union. Although it dates from antiquity, Sagitta has no star brighter than 3rd magnitude and has the third-smallest area of any constellation. Gamma Sagittae is the constellation's brightest star, with an apparent magnitude of 3.47. Delta, Epsilon, Zeta and Theta Sagittae are each multiple stars whose components can be seen in small telescopes. Two star systems in Sagitta have Jupiter-like planets, while a third—15 Sagittae—has a brown dwarf companion. V Sagittae is a cataclysmic variable—a binary star system that is expected to go nova and briefly become one of the brightest stars in our sky around the year 2083. (Full article...)

January 9

Moreton Bay fig

Ficus macrophylla, the Moreton Bay fig, is a large evergreen banyan tree of the family Moraceae native to eastern Australia. A strangler fig, it usually germinates in the canopy of a host tree and lives as an epiphyte until its roots establish contact with the ground; it then enlarges, reaching up to 60 m (200 ft) in height. The large leathery, dark green leaves are 15–30 cm (6–12 in) long. The fruit is small, round and greenish, ripening and turning purple at any time of year. Inverted inflorescences, with flowers lining an internal cavity, are pollinated only by fig wasps. Many bird species, including pigeons, parrots and various passerines, eat the fruit. Old specimens of F. macrophylla can reach tremendous size with imposing buttress roots, and the species is widely used as a feature tree in public parks and gardens in warmer climates. Its aggressive root system renders it unsuitable for all but the largest private gardens. (Full article...)

January 10

Holotype tooth, with a British penny for scale
Holotype tooth, with a British penny for scale

Siamosaurus is a genus of spinosaurid dinosaur from what is now Thailand in the Early Cretaceous period. The first reported spinosaurid from Asia, it is confidently known only from tooth fossils (example pictured). The type species, Siamosaurus suteethorni (named for Thai palaeontologist Varavudh Suteethorn), was formally described in 1986. In 2009, four teeth from China previously attributed to a pliosaur were provisionally identified as possibly those of Siamosaurus. Siamosaurus's body length is uncertain, but has been estimated at 5.1 to 9.1 metres (17 to 30 feet). The teeth, typically 62.5 millimetres (2.46 inches) long, were conical and had longitudinal grooves and wrinkled enamel. It would have had a long, low snout and robust forelimbs, and possibly a sail down its back. Its teeth are similar to those of other spinosaurids. With teeth suitable for impaling rather than tearing, it may have eaten fish, pterosaurs and small dinosaurs. It lived in a semi-arid habitat of floodplains and rivers. (Full article...)

January 11

Peter Badcoe, c. 1954

Peter Badcoe (11 January 1934 – 7 April 1967) was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in battle that could be awarded at that time to a member of the Australian armed forces. Badcoe joined the Australian Army in 1950 and graduated from the Officer Cadet School, Portsea, in 1952. Posted to South Vietnam in 1966, Badcoe displayed conspicuous gallantry and leadership on three occasions between February and April 1967. In the final battle, he was killed by a burst of machine-gun fire. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions, as well as the United States Silver Star and several South Vietnamese medals. Badcoe's medal set is now displayed in the Hall of Valour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Buildings in South Vietnam and Australia have been named after him, as has a perpetual medal at an Australian Football League match held on Anzac Day. (Full article...)

January 12

Storm track of Hurricane Alex

Hurricane Alex in 2016 was the first Atlantic hurricane in January since Alice in 1955. Alex originated as a non-tropical low near the Bahamas on January 7. It briefly acquired hurricane-force winds on January 10, then weakened slightly before acquiring more tropical weather characteristics. The system transitioned into a subtropical cyclone on January 12 well south of the Azores, becoming the first North Atlantic tropical or subtropical cyclone in January since Tropical Storm Zeta of 2006. Alex transitioned into a fully tropical cyclone on January 14. It peaked in strength as a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale with reported maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 km/h) and a central pressure of 981 mbar (hPa; 28.97 inHg). Alex weakened to a high-end tropical storm before making landfall on Terceira Island on January 15. After leaving the Azores, it reverted to a non-tropical cyclone. (Full article...)

January 13

York City War Memorial

The York City War Memorial is a First World War memorial designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and located in York, in the north of England. A public meeting in January 1920 to decide how to commemorate York's war dead opted for a monument, over a more utilitarian memorial. Lutyens was engaged, and his first design was approved, but it was perceived to clash with York's existing architecture, and the proposed site was abandoned in favour of one just outside the city walls. Lutyens submitted a new design, of a war cross and stone of remembrance, that was scaled back to the cross alone due to lack of funds. Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), unveiled the memorial on 25 June 1925. It consists of a stone cross 33 feet (10 metres) high on three stone blocks and a stone base, mounted on two further blocks and two shallow steps. It sits in a memorial garden, with an entrance designed by Lutyens. The memorial itself is a Grade II* listed building. (Full article...)

January 14

James P. Hagerstrom

James Hagerstrom (January 14, 1921 – June 25, 1994) was a fighter ace of the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) in World War II and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) in the Korean War. He is one of seven American pilots to have achieved ace status in two different wars. Hagerstrom joined the USAAF in 1941, and fought in the New Guinea campaign of World War II. There he shot down six Japanese aircraft, including four in one morning. After the war, he joined the Texas Air National Guard and participated in several air races. By 1950 he was in command of the 111th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, which was deployed to Korea during the Korean War. He transferred to the USAF and flew an F-86 Sabre jet in "MiG Alley", the area around the northern border of North Korea with China, destroying 8.5 Chinese, Soviet, and North Korean MiG-15s. In 1965, he served in several command roles during the Vietnam War while flying 30 combat missions. Hagerstrom died in Shreveport of stomach cancer in 1994. (Full article...)

January 15

Crucifixion of the rebel leaders
Crucifixion of the rebel leaders

The Mercenary War, also known as the Truceless War, was a mutiny by troops employed by Carthage at the end of the First Punic War (264 to 241 BC), backed by an uprising of African settlements against Carthaginian control. The war began in 241 BC as a dispute over wages owed to 20,000 foreign soldiers. It erupted into a full-scale mutiny that included 70,000 Africans from Carthage's oppressed dependent territories, bringing supplies and finance. The Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca initially demonstrated leniency to woo the rebels over, but pursued the war with great brutality after they tortured 700 Carthaginian prisoners to death. It ended in late 238 or early 237 BC with a Carthaginian victory. An expedition was then prepared to reoccupy Sardinia, where all Carthaginians had been killed. However, Rome declared that this would be an act of war and occupied both Sardinia and Corsica, in contravention of the recent peace treaty. (This article is part of a featured topic: Punic Wars.)

January 16

John C. Breckinridge

John C. Breckinridge (January 16, 1821 – May 17, 1875) was an American lawyer, politician, and soldier. He represented Kentucky in both houses of Congress and became the youngest-ever vice president of the United States. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1850 as a Democrat. He served as vice president from 1857 to 1861 alongside President James Buchanan. In 1859, he was elected senator for Kentucky. The Southern Democrats held two rival conventions; one nominated Breckinridge for president, who carried most of the Southern states. With the southern vote split, Abraham Lincoln won the election. Taking his Senate seat, Breckinridge urged compromise. When the Civil War broke out, Breckinridge fled to the Confederacy. He fought in numerous engagements as a general officer. In 1865 he was appointed secretary of war and urged the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, to arrange a national surrender. After the war he lived abroad, returning in 1869. (Full article...)

January 17

Elizabeth Willing Powel

Elizabeth Willing Powel (February 21, 1743 – January 17, 1830) was an American socialite and a prominent member of the Philadelphia upper class of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. After the American Revolutionary War, she established a salon of the Republican Court of leading intellectuals and political figures. She corresponded widely, including with the political elite of the time. A close friend to George Washington, she was among those who convinced him to continue for a second term as president. She wrote extensively, but privately, on a wide range of subjects, including politics, the role of women, medicine, education, and philosophy. Powel is said to be the person who asked Benjamin Franklin "What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?", to which he replied "A republic ... if you can keep it"; over time the role played by Powel in this exchange has been all but removed. Hundreds of her letters and several of her portraits survive. (Full article...)

January 18

Site of the Porlock Stone Circle in 2014

Porlock Stone Circle, on Exmoor in the south-western English county of Somerset, is part of a tradition of stone circle construction that spread throughout much of Britain, Ireland, and Brittany during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age between 3,300 and 900 BCE. The purpose of such monuments is unknown, although archaeologists speculate that the stones represented supernatural entities for the circles' builders. Many monuments were built in Exmoor during the Bronze Age, but the only other surviving stone circle in the area is the one near Withypool. The circle near Porlock is about 24 metres (79 feet) in diameter and has thirteen green micaceous sandstone rocks. Directly to the north-east of the ring is a cairn apparently connected to a linear stone row. A small lead wheel inside the circle suggests that the site was visited during the Romano-British period. The site was rediscovered in the 1920s. (Full article...)

January 19

Alexander II Zabinas

Alexander II Zabinas (c. 150 BC – 123 BC) was a Seleucid monarch of the Hellenistic period who reigned as King of Syria between 128 BC and 123 BC. Most historians, ancient and modern, maintain that he was a pretender to the throne, although his coinage suggests that he claimed descent from Antiochus IV (died 164 BC), the brother of King Seleucus IV (died 175 BC). Descendants of both brothers were contending for the throne. In 128 BC, King Demetrius II of Syria, the representative of Seleucus IV's line, invaded Egypt to support his mother-in-law Cleopatra II in a civil war. Demetrius was killed while trying to find refuge in the city of Tyre, and Alexander II became the master of the kingdom. Egypt's Ptolemy VIII did not want a strong king on the Syrian throne, and in 124 BC an alliance was established between Egypt and Cleopatra Thea, ruling jointly with Antiochus VIII, her son by Demetrius II. Alexander II was defeated and was probably executed by Antiochus VIII. (Full article...)

January 20

John Neal

John Neal (1793–1876) was an American writer, critic, editor, lecturer, and activist. He delivered speeches and published essays, novels, poems, and short stories between the 1810s and 1870s. Neal advanced American art, advocated the end of slavery and racial prejudice, and helped establish the American gymnastics movement. The first American author to use natural diction, he was also the first to use "son-of-a-bitch" in a work of fiction. He attained his greatest literary achievements between 1817 and 1835 as the first American published in British literary journals, author of the first history of American literature, America's first art critic, and a forerunner of the American Renaissance. One of the first men to advocate women's rights in the US, he affirmed intellectual equality between men and women, fought coverture laws, and demanded equal pay, better education and suffrage for women, declaring "I tell you there is no hope for woman, till she has a hand in making the law". (Full article...)

January 21

Cardiff City Stadium
Cardiff City Stadium

Sixteen grounds have hosted the Wales national football team in international association football competitions. The team played its first match in 1876 against Scotland before hosting its first home match the following year at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham, the world's oldest international football ground still in use. The ground hosted all of Wales's matches until 1890. Matches were held in several parts of the country, including Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea, over the following two decades. Ninian Park in Cardiff hosted its first international in 1911, and Vetch Field in Swansea hosted its first in 1921; they shared Wales's home matches with the Racecourse for nearly a century. In 1989 the team began playing at the National Stadium in Cardiff, and in 2000 the Millennium Stadium became the team's new home ground. After a gradual drop in attendance, Cardiff City Stadium (pictured) was designated Wales's permanent home venue. The Racecourse has held more matches (94) than any other venue. (Full article...)

January 22

Æthelred depicted in the early 14th century
Æthelred depicted in the early 14th century

Æthelred I (845 or 848 – 871) was King of Wessex from 865 until his death. He was the fourth of five sons of King Æthelwulf. He succeeded his elder brother Æthelberht and was followed by his youngest brother, Alfred the Great. Æthelred's two infant sons were passed over for the kingship. Æthelred's accession coincided with the arrival of the Viking Great Heathen Army in England. Over the next five years the Vikings conquered Northumbria and East Anglia, before launching a full-scale attack on Wessex in late 870. In early January 871, Æthelred was defeated at the Battle of Reading. Four days later he scored a victory in the Battle of Ashdown, but this was followed by two defeats at Basing and Meretun. He died shortly after Easter. Alfred was forced to buy off the Vikings, but decisively defeated them seven years later. Æthelred's reign was important numismatically, as he adopted the Mercian Lunettes design, creating a unified coinage design for southern England for the first time. (Full article...)

January 23

Gigantorhynchus ortizi
Gigantorhynchus ortizi

Gigantorhynchus is a genus of thorny-headed worms that parasitize marsupials, anteaters, and possibly baboons by attaching themselves to the intestines using their hook-covered proboscis. The life cycle includes a larval stage in an intermediate host such as termites. In addition to the proboscis, the body is characterized by pseudosegmentation, filiform lemnisci, and ellipsoid testes. The largest known specimen is a female G. ortizi (example pictured) with a length of around 240 millimetres (9.4 in) and a width of 2 millimetres (0.08 in). Genetic analysis on one species of Gigantorhynchus places it with the related Mediorhynchus genus in the Giganthorhynchidae family. There are six species in this genus distributed across Central and South America and possibly Zimbabwe. Infestation by a Gigantorhynchus species can cause potentially fatal partial obstructions of the intestines or severe lesions of the intestinal wall. (Full article...)

January 24

Right-elevation drawing of a Francesco Caracciolo-class battleship
Right-elevation drawing of a Francesco Caracciolo-class battleship

The Francesco Caracciolo-class battleships were a group of four battleships designed for the Royal Italian Navy in 1913 and ordered in 1914. The first ship of the class, Francesco Caracciolo, was laid down in late 1914; the other three ships followed in 1915. Armed with a main battery of eight 381 mm (15 in) guns and possessing a top speed of 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph), the four ships were intended to be the equivalent of fast battleships such as the British Queen Elizabeth class. The class was never completed due to material shortages and shifting construction priorities following the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Only the lead ship was launched, in 1920, and several proposals to convert her into an aircraft carrier were considered, but budgetary problems prevented any work being done. She was sold to an Italian shipping firm for conversion into a merchant vessel, but this also proved to be too expensive, and she was broken up for scrap, beginning in 1926. (Full article...)

January 25

Haile Selassie
Haile Selassie

Rastafari is a religion that developed among impoverished and socially disenfranchised Afro-Jamaican communities in Jamaica during the 1930s. It is both a new religious movement and a social movement. There is no central authority and much diversity among practitioners. Rasta beliefs are based on a specific interpretation of the Bible; a belief in a single God, Jah, who partially resides within each individual, is integral. Rastas accord central importance to Haile Selassie (pictured), Emperor of Ethiopia between 1930 and 1974; many regard him as the Second Coming of Jesus and Jah incarnate; others see him as a human prophet. Rastafari is Afrocentric and focuses on the African diaspora. In the 1960s and 1970s, it gained increased respectability and greater visibility abroad through the popularity of Rasta-inspired reggae musicians, most notably Bob Marley. There are an estimated 700,000 to 1,000,000 Rastas across the world, the majority of whom are of black African descent. (Full article...)

January 26

1936 penny depicting George V
1936 penny depicting George V

The history of the British penny (1240 of a pound sterling) from 1901 to 1970 saw it remain a large bronze coin throughout that time, with the obverse depicting the monarch and the reverse Britannia. The obverse from 1902 to 1910 featured George William de Saulles's depiction of Edward VII, followed by Bertram Mackennal's portrait of George V. No pennies were produced for commerce in 1933, as there were a sufficient number in circulation. At least seven were struck for placement beneath foundation stones and in museums. Edward VIII's short reign is represented only by a single pattern coin, dated 1937. That year, a new obverse design depicting George VI by Humphrey Paget went into use. From 1953, the penny bore Mary Gillick's portrait of Elizabeth II. The officials who planned decimalisation in the 1960s did not favour keeping the large bronze penny. It quickly went out of use after Decimal Day, 15 February 1971, and was demonetised on 31 August 1971. (Full article...)

January 27

Holocaust memorial in Bratislava
Holocaust memorial in Bratislava

The Holocaust in Slovakia was the systematic dispossession, deportation, and murder of Jews in the Slovak State, a client state of Nazi Germany. Out of 89,000 Jews in the country in 1940, 68,000 to 71,000 were murdered during the Holocaust. In 1939, the ruling ethnonationalist Slovak People's Party declared independence from Czechoslovakia with German protection. Jews were targeted for discrimination and harassment, including the confiscation of property and businesses. On 9 September 1941, the government passed the Jewish Code, which it claimed to be the strictest anti-Jewish law in Europe. In late 1941, the Slovak government negotiated with Nazi Germany for the mass deportation of Jews to German-occupied Poland. Between March and October 1942, 58,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp and the Lublin District; only a few hundred survived. The murder of Jews resumed after August 1944, when Germany invaded Slovakia and another 13,500 Jews were deported. (Full article...)

January 28

A 1667 illustration with three Guadeloupe amazons in the tree at left
A 1667 illustration with three Guadeloupe amazons in the tree at left

The Guadeloupe amazon (Amazona violacea) is a hypothetical extinct species of parrot that is thought to have been endemic to the Lesser Antillean island region of Guadeloupe. Described by 17th- and 18th-century writers, it is thought to have been related to, or possibly the same as, the extant imperial amazon. A tibiotarsus and an ulna bone from the island of Marie-Galante may belong to the Guadeloupe amazon. According to contemporary descriptions, its head, neck and underparts were mainly violet or slate, mixed with green and black; the back was brownish green; and the wings were green, yellow and red. It had iridescent feathers, and was able to raise a "ruff" of feathers around its neck. It fed on fruits and nuts, and the male and female took turns sitting on the nest. French settlers ate the birds and destroyed their habitat. Rare by 1779, the species appears to have become extinct by the end of the 18th century. (Full article...)

January 29

The Pyramid of Nyuserre

The Pyramid of Nyuserre is a pyramid complex built in the 25th century BC for the Egyptian pharaoh Nyuserre Ini of the Fifth Dynasty. It is in the Abusir necropolis south of modern-day Cairo between the complexes of Neferirkare and of Sahure. Nyuserre was the last king to be entombed in the necropolis. The main pyramid, nearly 52 m (171 ft) tall, had a stepped core built from roughly cut limestone encased in fine Tura limestone. The casing was stripped by stone thieves, leaving the core exposed to the elements and further human activity, reducing the pyramid to a ruined mound. Adjoining the pyramid's east face is the mortuary temple built in an L-shape rather than the usual T-shape plan. It introduced the antichambre carrée, an innovative type of room that became a standard feature of later monuments. The site has two structures which appear to have been pylon prototypes. These, too, became staple features of temples and palaces in a later period. (Full article...)

January 30

Hitler's speech in the Reichstag
Hitler's speech in the Reichstag

Hitler's prophecy was a statement first made by Adolf Hitler in a speech (pictured) at the Reichstag on 30 January 1939: "If international finance Jewry inside and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, the result will be not the Bolshevization of the earth and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe". Hitler continued to invoke the prophecy throughout the war and referenced it in his last will and testament, such that the prophecy became a leitmotif of the Final Solution and is the best-known phrase from Hitler's speeches. The historical significance of the prophecy is debated: intentionalists view it as proof of Hitler's previously developed master plan to systematically murder the European Jews, while functionalists argue that "annihilation" was not meant or understood to mean mass murder, at least initially. It is also cited as evidence that Germans were aware that Jews were being exterminated. (Full article...)

January 31

Plains zebras
Plains zebras

Zebras are African equines with black-and-white striped coats and share the genus Equus with horses and asses. Zebras inhabit eastern and southern Africa and can be found in savannahs, grasslands, woodlands, shrublands and mountainous areas. They are primarily grazers, but can subsist on lower-quality vegetation. They are preyed on mainly by lions, typically fleeing when threatened but they may bite and kick. Several theories have been proposed for the function of their stripes, with evidence suggesting they are a form of protection from biting flies. Of the three extant species, Grévy's zebra is endangered, the mountain zebra is vulnerable and the plains zebra (examples pictured) is near-threatened; the quagga, a type of plains zebra, was driven to extinction in the 19th century. Zebras communicate with vocalisations, body postures and facial expressions. Plains and mountain zebras practice social grooming, which strengthens social bonds. Zebras have featured in art and stories in Africa and beyond. (Full article...)