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Exploring Lake Baikal | JSTOR Daily
The nature of the lake itself lends it to great diversity. For one thing the lake is at least 25 million years old. It is also extremely deep, and unlike many deep lakes, all depths contain plenty of dissolved oxygen. Under such conditions, organisms have the entire lake in which to speciate. Species can differentiate at opposite ends of the lake, or in the same location but at different depths. Several river systems drain into Baikal, so additional organisms have the opportunity to colonize the lake. Some of these species remain as they are, adding to the diversity, while others evolve in the lake into even more unique creatures.
lake  baikal  russia  mongolia  nature  climate  animal  ecosystem 
april 2019 by aries1988
futurists and historians
What best distinguishes our species is an ability that scientists are just beginning to appreciate: We contemplate the future. Our singular foresight created…
history  future  mind  animal  human  question  opinion  futurism  historian 
march 2019 by aries1988
Bear Cam’s Captivating, Unedited Zen

Apart from that, the feed is unedited. And so even watching on a computer screen has the serendipitous feeling of catching a glimpse of wildlife out the window, rather than the on-demand control of queueing up the next episode of guaranteed glamorous sightings. Apart from that, the feed is unedited. And so even watching on a computer screen has the serendipitous feeling of catching a glimpse of wildlife out the window, rather than the on-demand control of queueing up the next episode of guaranteed glamorous sightings.

One day, I opened the cam and saw blond cubs napping and nuzzling in the sun on the riverbank—the delight took on a duller cast as soon as I realized I’d navigated to the “Highlights” feeds, and was not watching live footage.
usa  animal  live  video  summer  fishing  fun  nature  wildlife  zen 
august 2018 by aries1988
The Obsessive Search for the Tasmanian Tiger | The New Yorker
“I don’t see the need to see an absolute when I don’t see an absolute,” he told me. “Life is far more complicated than people want it to be.” In his eyes, the ongoing mystery of the thylacine isn’t really about the animal at all. It’s about us.
australia  animal  hunt  mysterious  extinction 
july 2018 by aries1988
The Case Against Civilization
We don’t give the technology of fire enough credit, Scott suggests, because we don’t give our ancestors much credit for their ingenuity over the long period—ninety-five per cent of human history—during which most of our species were hunter-gatherers.

To demonstrate the significance of fire, he points to what we’ve found in certain caves in southern Africa. The earliest, oldest strata of the caves contain whole skeletons of carnivores and many chewed-up bone fragments of the things they were eating, including us. Then comes the layer from when we discovered fire, and ownership of the caves switches: the human skeletons are whole, and the carnivores are bone fragments. Fire is the difference between eating lunch and being lunch.

Anatomically modern humans have been around for roughly two hundred thousand years. For most of that time, we lived as hunter-gatherers. Then, about twelve thousand years ago, came what is generally agreed to be the definitive before-and-after moment in our ascent to planetary dominance: the Neolithic Revolution. This was our adoption of, to use Scott’s word, a “package” of agricultural innovations, notably the domestication of animals such as the cow and the pig, and the transition from hunting and gathering to planting and cultivating crops.

His best-known book, “Seeing Like a State,” has become a touchstone for political scientists, and amounts to a blistering critique of central planning and “high modernism,” the idea that officials at the center of a state know better than the people they are governing. Scott argues that a state’s interests and the interests of subjects are often not just different but opposite.

The big news to emerge from recent archeological research concerns the time lag between “sedentism,” or living in settled communities, and the adoption of agriculture.

The evidence shows that this isn’t true: there’s an enormous gap—four thousand years—separating the “two key domestications,” of animals and cereals, from the first agrarian economies based on them.

It was the ability to tax and to extract a surplus from the produce of agriculture that, in Scott’s account, led to the birth of the state, and also to the creation of complex societies with hierarchies, division of labor, specialist jobs (soldier, priest, servant, administrator), and an élite presiding over them.

The web of food sources that the hunting-and-gathering Ju/’hoansi use is, exactly as Scott argues for Neolithic people, a complex one, with a wide range of animal protein, including porcupines, kudu, wildebeests, and elephants, and a hundred and twenty-five edible plant species, with different seasonal cycles, ecological niches, and responses to weather fluctuations.

The secret ingredient seems to be the positive harnessing of the general human impulse to envy.
history  culture  agriculture  debate  human  choice  farming  animal  book  opinion 
april 2018 by aries1988
Letter of Recommendation Schleich Figurines
the same name — “Schleich” — in minuscule lettering. Just below were the words “Schwäbisch Gmünd,” a little town in southern Germany, I soon learned, where the 83-year-old company makes many of these beguilingly lifelike beings
toy  moi  animal  africa  childhood  model  daily  table  home  decoration 
march 2018 by aries1988
Panda politics: the hard truth about China’s cuddliest diplomat

Far more money, time and effort has been spent on saving the giant panda from extinction than on any other animal. As such, it is considered a touchstone species — if humans can’t rescue such an icon with all of this exertion, then what hope is there for less charismatic fauna?

“For China, pandas are the equivalent of the British royal family,” Nye tells the FT. “Like the royals, they are a terrific asset because you can put them on display. You trot them around the world and they add an enormous amount to the country’s soft power.”

In fact, the first recorded example of panda diplomacy dates back much further to 685 AD, when Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang dynasty presented a pair of live bears to neighbouring Japan.

Australia, France and Canada all received pandas after agreeing to sell nuclear technology and uranium to China. Scotland accepted a pair of pandas in 2011 as part of an agreement to share offshore drilling technology and supply salmon to China, while the Dutch loan this year came as the Netherlands agreed to supply advanced healthcare services.

Chinese and western experts all agree there is no scientific reason for producing so many animals in captivity if they cannot be released in the wild. But after struggling for so many years to produce even a few surviving cubs, the machinery of panda production is now almost unstoppable, thanks to financial incentives and rivalry between competing agencies.
zoo  chinese  politics  diplomacy  animal  reportage  analysis  numbers  economy 
november 2017 by aries1988
Why Is This Deer Licking This Fox? - The Atlantic
Then again, it might be misguided to say what all deer on an island do in the first place. “More and more, we’re recognizing that, just like us, animals have different personalities,” Roemer says. “Sometimes they do bizarre things.” While working on one of the Channel Islands, he befriended an exuberant island fox named Josie, who made a game of goading a nature conservancy’s surly hunting dog into chasing her up trees.

So maybe it was an especially bold buck and a uniquely lonely fox that met under that fading afternoon sun on Santa Catalina Island. They neared each other in the brush of the only land they’ve ever known. And when they were close enough to touch, they were both filled with enough wonder to decide: why not?
fun  animal  research  friend 
october 2017 by aries1988
Wolf Puppies Are Adorable. Then Comes the Call of the Wild.

As close as wolf and dog are — some scientists classify them as the same species — there are differences. Physically, wolves’ jaws are more powerful. They breed only once a year, not twice, as dogs do. And behaviorally, wolf handlers say, their predatory instincts are easily triggered compared to those of dogs. They are more independent and possessive of food or other items. Much research suggests they take more care of their young. And they never get close to that Labrador retriever I-love-all-humans level of friendliness. As much as popular dog trainers and pet food makers promote the inner wolf in our dogs, they are not the same.

Dog puppies will quickly attach to any human within reach. Even street dogs that have had some contact with people at the right time may still be friendly.

Some recent research has suggested that dog friendliness may be the result of something similar to Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder in humans that causes hyper-sociability, among other symptoms. People with the syndrome seem friendly to everyone, without the usual limits.

As I was emphatically told in a training session before going into an enclosure with adult wolves, the one thing you definitely do not do is look them in the eye.

whether a delay in social development in a dog’s early life could explain the difference between wolves and dogs

That’s very important, because both wolves and dogs go through a critical period as puppies when they explore the world and learn who their friends and family are.

With wolves, that time is thought to start at about two weeks, when the wolves are deaf and blind. Scent is everything.

In dogs, it starts at about four weeks, when they can see, smell and hear. Dr. Lord thinks this shift in development, allowing dogs to use all their senses, might be key to their greater ability to connect with human beings.

Perhaps with more senses in action, they are more able to generalize from tolerating individual humans with a specific scent to tolerating humans in general with a scent, sight and sound profile.

When the critical period ends, wolves, and to a lesser extent dogs, experience something like the onset of stranger anxiety in human babies, when people outside of the family suddenly become scary.
quebec  wolf  zoo  dog  biology  gene  animal  evolution  human  comparison  research  scientist  experiment  development  baby 
october 2017 by aries1988
Wolf Puppies Are Adorable. Then Comes the Call of the Wild. - The New York Times
No one will run to make one of these wolves chase him for fun. No one will pretend to chase the wolf. Every experienced wolf caretaker will stay alert. Because if there’s one thing all wolf and dog specialists I’ve talked to over the years agree on, it is this: No matter how you raise a wolf, you can’t turn it into a dog.

And behaviorally, wolf handlers say, their predatory instincts are easily triggered compared to those of dogs. They are more independent and possessive of food or other items. Much research suggests they take more care of their young. And they never get close to that Labrador retriever “I-love-all-humans” level of friendliness. As much as popular dog trainers and pet food makers promote the inner wolf in our dogs, they are not the same.

As I was emphatically told in a training session before going into an enclosure with adult wolves, the one thing you definitely do not do is look them in the eye.

When the critical period ends, wolves, and to a lesser extent dogs, experience something like the onset of stranger anxiety in human babies, when people outside of the family suddenly become scary.

Even with fur, teeth and claws, the pups were still hungry and helpless, and I couldn’t help but remember holding my own children when they took a bottle. I suspect that tiger kittens and the young of wolverines are equally irresistible. It’s a mammal thing.
wolf  story  reportage  zoo  animal  human  dog  comparison  research 
october 2017 by aries1988
The Sucker, the Sucker!
Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life by Peter Godfrey-Smith Collins

octopuses – and to some extent their cephalopod cousins, cuttlefish and squid – frustrate the neat evolutionary division between clever vertebrates and simple-minded invertebrates. They are sophisticated problem solvers; they learn, and can use tools; and they show a capacity for mimicry, deception and, some think, humour.

Consciousness – the possession of an ‘inner’ model of the ‘outer’ world, or the sense of having an integrated, subjective perspective on the world – is, on his view, just a highly evolved form of what he calls ‘subjective experience’.

the Medawar effect: natural selection tends to weed out mutations whose harmful effects appear early in an animal’s life, but it is less likely to weed out mutations whose harmful effects manifest later on.
instapaper_favs  animal  ocean  intelligence  human  sea  biology  nature  book 
october 2017 by aries1988
Cities Aren't Smart Enough to Stop Rat Infestations. But That's About to Change.

To start, the team turns to the city’s records on 311 calls about rodent sightings—for now, that’s the most reliable insight for finding rodent hotspots. Then they compare those calls with other city data, including the number of registered businesses (particularly food businesses), apartments (an indication of human density), and the breakdown of the area’s landscape (concrete versus penetrable Earth like parks). They’re looking for patterns that signal favorable conditions for rats, highlighting places where Brown’s team could soon find an infestation.

The result was impressive: Neill’s model could predict a spike in rodent complaints a full week before it happened
model  city  rat  hygiene  management  animal 
august 2017 by aries1988
After 150 years, are the days of grouse shooting numbered?

For a century and a half, passionate sportsmen — and, increasingly, sportswomen — have flocked to Scottish moors in their tweeds for the Glorious Twelfth, the August 12 start of the grouse-shooting season. In recent decades the appeal has gone global, with enthusiasts from all over the world angling for places on the best shoots and buying some of Scotland’s finest estates.

Employing dedicated beaters instead meant that a whole hillside’s population of grouse could be driven toward a prepared line of concealed positions.

It is the expense of driven grouse shooting that makes for one of its strongest justifications: few other activities can attract such free-spending landowners and visitors to the remote upland areas of the UK, with resulting year-round employment.

Successfully maintaining a moor’s population requires the burning of heather in rotation to ensure that a given environment offers both young shoots for the grouse to eat and older growth in which they can hide. He also has to distribute medicated grit to deal with parasitic threadworms that infest grouse guts. And then keepers have to shoot or trap predators such as foxes, crows, stoats and weasels.

It is red grouse’s unpredictability and the speed of its flight — sometimes exceeding 100kmh — that give it its sporting lustre. Lagopus scoticus is an attractive bird from all points of view, wrote one admirer in 1910. He is interesting to behold; beautiful in plumage; graceful in movement; devoted and courageous in defence of his young; while, as an object of sport, he has no equal in this country among the feathered tribes.
hunting  debate  animal  tradition  scotland  nature 
august 2017 by aries1988
The Secret Economic Lives of Animals

Economists study human behavior. Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another with another dog, Adam Smith sniffed in The Wealth of Nations.
economy  animal  research  debate 
august 2017 by aries1988
Interview with Ornithologist Richard Prum: What Duck Sex Reveals about Human Nature - SPIEGEL ONLINE - International

Prum: To understand this, you have to consider the evolutionary mechanisms involved: If the female gets the mate she likes, then her offspring will inherit the green head and the quack-quack-quack, all those displays that she likes so much. And since all other females have coevolved to prefer those same traits, her sons will be very successful and she will have lots of grandchildren from him. But if she's fertilized by force, then some random male will father her kids, which means that her offspring are less likely to inherit the attractive traits that she and other females like. That means fewer grandkids. Therefore, evolution will favor any mutation that allows her to get her own choice -- for example by protecting her vagina against forced sex.

Unlike ducks, 97 percent of birds cannot be forcibly fertilized, because the males don't have a penis. Copulation in most birds is achieved by a cloacal kiss, just an apposition (or touching) of orifices. So, to be fertilized, the female has to actively take up the sperm, which means that she retains full control of her sexual choice. By the way, I think this is the essential reason why birds are so beautiful. Since they have the freedom of choice, females exhibit aesthetic preferences. And, as a result of these preferences, males developed amazingly elaborate ornaments.

SPIEGEL: You are suggesting that women were attracted to small teeth?

Prum: Yeah, and I even think that this is where our smile comes from. It is a sexual symbol advertising one's state of de-weaponization.

SPIEGEL: And females made them give up this bad habit by choosing more good-natured males?

Prum: Yes. Solving the infanticide problem was the biggest hurdle in human evolution. Infanticide is the single largest source of infant mortality in gorillas and chimpanzees. Approximately 30 percent of all infant deaths are the result of infanticide by males. On the other hand, everything that is special about human biology requires greater investment in longer childhoods -- whether it's complex cognition, language, culture or technology. None of that could possibly have evolved if a large portion of babies are being murdered by sexual violence.
bird  sex  human  animal  evolution  interview  opinion  research  duck  penis 
july 2017 by aries1988
The Natural History Museum’s new hall of wonders
Although gigantism on land reached a peak with dinosaurs, today’s blue whales are the biggest animals that have ever lived on land or sea. Evolutionary studies suggest that baleen whales, and the blue whale in particular, have grown to this scale within the past three million years in response to the availability of huge concentrations of krill, which they can catch and eat through their specialised filter-feeding mechanism.
london  museum  moi  biology  animal  dinosaur  history  2017 
july 2017 by aries1988
The Great Hanoi Rat Massacre of 1902 Did Not Go as Planned
A vintage photograph of Rue Paul Bert (now Trang Tien Street), Hanoi. Public Domain In 1897, Paul Doumer arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam. A 40-something French…
animal  death  killing  city  vietnam  story  français  health  economy 
june 2017 by aries1988
Experience: I accidentally bought a giant pig

By the time we realised her size, we were in love. She’s unlike any animal I’ve met. Her intelligence is unbelievable. She’s house trained and even opens the back door with her snout to let herself out to pee. Her food is mainly kibble, plus fruit and vegetables. Her favourite treat is a cupcake. She’s bathed regularly and pigs don’t sweat, so she doesn’t smell.

It was emotional realising she was a commercial pig. The more we discovered about what her life could have been, it seemed crazy to us that we ate animals, so we stopped.
pig  pet  story  home  lgbt  family  animal  food  ethic  vegetarian 
march 2017 by aries1988
‘I’m the world’s foremost cryptozoologist’

The goal of cryptozoology is to discover new species. The giant panda, the megamouth shark, and the Komodo dragon were all cryptozoological until the 20th century. People had seen them, but their reports were dismissed as fantastical. Now, they’re zoological.
animal  discovery 
march 2017 by aries1988
RT : "1.5 million penguins on an island just 5km across."
by from Islands
planet  earth  bbc  documentary  animal  southpole  tv 
january 2017 by aries1988
Killing Animals at the Zoo

The modern defense of zoos tends to refer to four achievements: education, conservation, scientific research, and the societal benefit of getting people out of the house. Much of this is often packed into a single claim, which may be true even if it is unsupported by good evidence: zoos are said to cause people to value wild animals more than they otherwise would, thereby improving the survival prospects of threatened species.

His manner, like that of Richard Dawkins, combines reserve and certainty in a way that can suggest adolescence: sometimes, when countering one of his critics, he reddens slightly, and half smiles.

An animal can be a city’s shared pet, or it can be a quasi-agricultural team member whose work is to be seen and to breed and, perhaps, to die young. The Copenhagen Zoo, more than most others, aims to include virtually every animal in the second category, and to avoid what Holst likes to call the Disneyfication of nature.

the Copenhagen Zoo adheres to a practice known as breed and cull. The case for this policy, which is followed by many other zoos in Europe, if with less gusto, is this: because contraception carries medical risks, and because animals can become infertile if they don’t breed, and because zoos must deprive animals of many natural behaviors, it’s important to allow them to mate and raise infants. Why take that away? Holst asked me.

The global giraffe population has declined by nearly forty per cent in the past thirty years

a strand of Danish animal exceptionalism. Danes aren’t unusually careless about animal welfare, but there’s a tradition of pragmatism—or, a critic could say, an insular and self-congratulatory moral laxity—about animal death.

a school of Danish thought, in the early twentieth century, that stressed a greater openness around sex and death and gross bodily functions. He noted that Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize pornography, in the late sixties.

I mean, when you’re dead you’re dead, Holst said to me at one point. And animals don’t have any expectations of what happens after death, or that they could have had a longer life.
zoo  children  education  debate  ethic  culture  dane  denmark  animal  life  instapaper_favs 
january 2017 by aries1988
Gerrard Gethings’ farmyard animals
The British photographer has made a career out of persuading often truculent subjects to stand before his camera. One of the benefits of photographing animals, he says, is that they neither understand him nor tell him how they feel.
animal  portrait  photo 
january 2017 by aries1988
That’s the drawback but also the glory of creatures that were never domesticated. Nothing feels better than being singled out by something that at best should fear you, and at worst would like to eat you.
story  love  animal  debate  instapaper_favs 
december 2016 by aries1988
How domestication changes species, including the human | Aeon Essays

The overall picture is that domestication was a gradual affair, full of pitfalls and false starts. It took thousands of years of tinkering before agriculture as we know it came into being, and for much of that time, the border between wild and tame remained fluid. At the outset, this probably didn’t matter much. Early sea-faring pioneers who travelled from the Middle East to Cyprus brought wheat, barley and pigs, according to archaeological investigations of village sites dating back 10,000 years. But they also took with them species that weren’t domesticated, such as fallow deer and foxes. They didn’t distinguish between wild and tame. Instead of transporting just a few valuable species, they took with them a whole ecological niche. As Zeder writes: ‘They simply took with them the world that they knew.’

Brains of domestic pigs are 35 per cent smaller than those of boars, for example, while dogs’ brains are around 30 per cent smaller than those of wolves.

it was probably advantageous for domestic animals to have reduced sensory acuity. In the wild it paid to be skittish, while under human management, those individuals who could handle stress with equanimity did best.

Known as ‘lactase persistence’, a term that refers to the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk, it’s one of the greatest evolutionary adaptations in any species of the past few thousand years. Tolerance developed in humans at least five times, once in Europe and four times in areas of sub-Saharan Africa.
human  biology  evolution  animal  culture  instapaper_favs 
december 2016 by aries1988
If Animals Have Rights, Should Robots?

In a paper, she names three factors: physicality (the object exists in our space, not onscreen), perceived autonomous movement (the object travels as if with a mind of its own), and social behavior (the robot is programmed to mimic human-type cues).

The problem with torturing a robot, in other words, has nothing to do with what a robot is, and everything to do with what we fear most in ourselves.
right  robot  animal  human  essay  debate 
november 2016 by aries1988
Where’s the Love for Donkeys?

The first horses, she said, were short, stubby little things, sort of like a barrel on legs. People bred them to be long-legged racers and great jumpers, just as the lithe wild ass was bred to become a stubby little donkey.
animal  bible 
november 2016 by aries1988
What makes clowns, vampires and severed hands creepy? – David Livingstone Smith | Aeon Essays

Like McAndrews and Koehnke, Jentsch held that Unheimlichkeit was the upshot of a kind of uncertainty leading to cognitive paralysis; but he did not think that paralysis was prompted by uncertainty about threat. Instead, he made the case that when we regard a thing as creepy it’s because we are uncertain about what kind of thing it is.

Monsters are, by definition, malevolent creatures that violate the natural order of things. Monsters are not merely terrifying. They are horrifying – because they are also creepy.

anthropologist Mary Douglas – in particular, her celebrated book Purity and Danger (1966) – is relevant here. Douglas points out that every culture possesses some conception of the natural order of things – a system of categories to make sense of the world. Any such system of meaning is inevitably confronted with anomalies that don’t fit into the scheme. When anomalies appear to transgress the natural order, they are branded as abominations.

pigs, which have cloven hoofs but do not chew their cud, do violence to the taxonomy. Like other interstitial beings, pigs are felt to be impure or unclean in a sense that goes well beyond merely physical dirtiness. They are, so to speak, metaphysically polluted.

human beings are inclined to think of every member of an animal species as sharing a deep feature or ‘essence’ that only members of that species possess; possessing the essence is what makes it the case that an animal is a member of its species.

It’s part of the notion of essences that if a thing possesses an essence, it possesses it completely.

It’s because we essentialise them that categorically ambiguous animals pull our minds in two directions at once, rather than causing us to take a middle path, and this cognitive paralysis is what generates the sensation of creepiness.
animal  human  research  psychology  instapaper_favs 
september 2016 by aries1988
Man v rat: could the long war soon be over? | Jordan Kisner | Science | The Guardian
Why? How is it that we can send robots to Mars, build the internet, keep alive infants born so early that their skin isn’t even fully made – and yet remain unable to keep rats from threatening our food supplies, biting our babies, and appearing in our toilet bowls?

Rats have the same taste preferences as humans – they love fat and sugar – though Dyer’s experiments with various flavour profiles indicated that their appetite for both exceeds ours.
biology  animal  ecosystem  city  human  trash  food  scientist 
september 2016 by aries1988
‘Pool to table’: on the leisurely challenge of indoor shrimp fishing in Taiwan | Aeon Videos
Taiwan is one of the most densely populated islands on Earth: its 36,000 square kilometres are home to more than 23 million people. Historically, fishing and seafood have been central to Taiwanese culture, but with the country’s economy and population increasingly urbanised, many in Taiwan have sought a new, leisurely and convenient way of connecting with the sea: indoor shrimping. In this short video, the director Tim Cheng visits one of Taiwan’s many urban shrimp pools, where patrons go to catch their next meal – or just for the relaxation of it all.
fun  urban  city  leisure  animal  sea  taiwan 
august 2016 by aries1988
Do animals fight wars and if so what was the largest war?

In New Orleans, something changed. L. humile, invading the United States, spread like wildfire. Instead of forming discrete, competing colonies, they behaved as a united army. They would brutally attack ants of other species, but welcome every L. humile as a long-lost sister in arms.
story  animal  world  war  biology  insect 
august 2016 by aries1988
From Pokémon Red to Pokémon Go, How Nintendo's Video Game Franchise Captured the Experience of Leaving Home - The Atlantic
The original Pokémon (first released for the Game Boy in 1996) is a bildungsroman, or coming-of-age-story, disguised as a bug-collecting challenge.

It works because it captures the original game’s spirit of exploration, even if its players said goodbye to their childhood home years ago.

The way Tajiri describes his childhood in that interview alludes to the game’s bildungsroman quality, that of a child learning about the world around him by physically grappling with it. “If I put my hand in the river, I would get a crayfish. If there was a stick over a hole, it would create an air bubble and I'd find insects there,” he said. “In Japan, a lot of kids like to go out and catch beetles by putting honey on a piece of tree bark. My idea was to put a stone under a tree, because they slept during the day and like sleeping under stones. So in the morning I'd go pick up the stone and find them. Tiny discoveries like that made me excited.”

it’s still managed to turn its fans into a nation of Dr. Bugs, even if we aren’t turning over stones or baiting trees with honey. At its best, it can evoke a little wonder in the mundane world around us—or force us to realize the world we live in was never mundane in the first place.
game  children  iOS  animal  insect  discovery  nature  nostalgia  city  essay  neighborhood 
july 2016 by aries1988
Dutch Firm Trains Eagles to Take Down High-Tech Prey: Drones
When small, off-the-shelf models pose security or other threats, birds have the advantage of grounding them without a potentially dangerous crash.
animal  bird  drone  solution  airplane  airport  safety 
may 2016 by aries1988
Searching for Signs of Hannibal’s Route in DNA from Horse Manure - The New Yorker

The ability to test soil directly for genetic material has extended archeology beyond the quest for the usual biological suspects, such as microscopic fossils. The whole business of looking at sediments is bubbling up now—it is taking off because of advances in DNA sequencing, Pallen said. There is a realization that the environment is full of DNA . . . and you can detect it in sediments even in the absence of fossil remains.
genetics  discovery  alpe  italia  spqr  war  warrior  antiquity  animal  archaeology 
may 2016 by aries1988
Dad, the Ant Killer
Call me a bad person if you want. I can’t help it. I’m a father.
parents  children  animal  love 
april 2016 by aries1988
Alone in the Alps

I’ve been hiking the Via Alpina on and off for a decade, often without realizing that I was on it. Five interlocked trails crisscross all eight countries of the Alps: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

It’s one of the distinctive pleasures of Alpine hiking. The glamorous vast multiplicity, all made up of differences, mediaeval, romantic differences, D. H. Lawrence wrote, in Mr. Noon, his semi-fictional account of crossing the Alps with Frieda Weekley after their elopement.

In the Alps, it’s still present in the shifting styles of church towers, village fountains, sheepcotes, hay barns. It’s there in the odd bits of language that filter through even if you’re an incurable monoglot like me. (How nice it is to learn that the German word for the noise cowbells make is Gebimmel, and that the Swiss-Romanche word for boulder is crap.) It’s there in the restaurant menus: daubes giving way to dumplings, raclette to robiola; and in the freshly incomprehensible road signs, which in Slovenia are clotted with impenetrable consonant clusters, as if vowels were an indulgence. Somewhere between Strmec and Cmi Vrh, I ate a pršut (prosciutto) sandwich.

That linkage across time—the sense of being led by the tracks of others who were there before you—is reassuring, especially in the more remote places.

It was as if a second hike, joyous and invigorating, had begun to superimpose itself on the one I thought I’d taken. I’d experienced this alchemy before—the day’s accumulated fretfulness and discomfort turning into pure exhilaration, though seldom this intensely.

Via Alpina was waiting for a prophet to acclaim it.

When I look at the footage now, it seems the perfect emblem of that place: wild and dreamlike and marvellous.

I then headed north into Austria, and resumed following the Purple trail. One stretch of it passes near the Altaussee salt mine, where the Nazis hid some of their stolen art. I dropped down from pristine meadows—still emerald green in August—and looked at the old railbeds, with salt crystals glittering along the tunnels and a subterranean chapel dedicated to St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners. Years-old swags of fir hung on the walls, smelling as if they’d just been cut, the salt air keeping them unnaturally fresh.
travel  rando  alpes  story  moi  self  hostel  idea  sleep  fun  animal  mountain  europe  diversity  thinking  nature 
april 2016 by aries1988
Maija Tammi: Timeline to death -
“Forget the rabbit,” is the first instruction from the photographer Maija Tammi. “Just focus on the death, its time and spatiality.” However beautiful it might appear in the early stages of decomposition, the rabbit is there to supply a visual
animal  death  photo 
february 2016 by aries1988
A Hint of Danger in the Forest
Andrew Zuckerman A few years ago, I walked through an English forest with an old friend who told me there was something living in it that I had never seen…
animal  story  forest 
february 2016 by aries1988
Chinese Animal Trainers Looking for Respect in the Year of the Monkey
These days, they are trained to ride little bicycles, shoot hoops, strut on stilts, brandish knives and generally make lovable monkeys of themselves through a tough regimen that has caused animal rights advocates to howl about physical abuse and mental distress. Photos from Xinye show macaques chained and huddled fearfully in barren cages. Even Mr. Zhang said trainers had to end their old, harsh ways to win over new audiences.

The buskers see themselves as one of the last preserves of ancient China’s “jianghu” (meaning “rivers and lakes”) tradition of itinerant hawkers and performers who bucked conventional respectability in a subworld with its own argot, rules and customs.
tradition  chinese  animal  monkey 
february 2016 by aries1988
How to Brush a Gorilla’s Teeth

Carrigan encourages the gorillas in so-called motherese, the same cooing, high-pitched intonation she uses with her own small children. In fact, when her children started getting their milk teeth at around 8 months, she schooled them to obediently open their mouths too. ‘‘I used the gorilla training method,’’ she says. ‘‘Now my kids are really good at brushing.’’
animal  hygiene  baby 
august 2015 by aries1988
Human nature: Being scientific - New Scientist
Crucially, this understanding allows us to use what we have learned in one domain to make causal predictions in another – so, for example, we can predict that something that goes "bam!" will sink, whereas something that goes "click" may well float. Our nimbleness at abstract causal reasoning is tied up with our facility with language and probably underlies many of our other social skills, such as rituals and rules of behaviour, too. Povinelli believes this is what really sets humans apart from even the brightest apes.
science  discovery  nature  animal  comparison  analysis 
august 2015 by aries1988
Human nature: Being epicurean - New Scientist
Then there's feasting. From sharing the spoils of a good hunt, to celebrating a special occasion, every society does it. And here you are more likely to find men cooking. We even see this in our own backyards, where they do most of the barbecuing. "My own thinking is it has something to do with establishing a reputation as being generous, in control of the high-quality food," says Wrangham.
human  behavior  animal  comparison  analysis  list 
august 2015 by aries1988
Chinese City Defends Dog Meat Festival, Despite Scorn
Yulin, whose lush subtropical surroundings are said to be the birthplace of the legendary imperial beauty Yang Guifei, has become the target of a fast-growing animal rights campaign, which has made its residents feel increasingly under siege and at times defensive.

Locals say the moral hypocrisy over the eating of animals is a bottomless grab bag. What about the consumption of beef when cows are considered sacred in India, they say, or guinea pigs in Latin America, or dogs in Korea or turkeys in the United States? What makes eating dog meat any different from eating the flesh of chickens or pigs, they ask?
debate  animal  human  ethic 
august 2015 by aries1988
Prince de Merode's Last Stand in Virunga, Africa's Most Dangerous Park -
One obstacle remained: As de Merode was prepped for surgery, it became apparent that his team of surgeons — local Congolese assisted by Indians from a nearby UN base — shared no language. The former spoke French but no English; the latter, English but no French. And so the patient, fluent in both, translated the beginning of his own surgery: "Le scalpel."
story  animal  africa  european 
may 2015 by aries1988
Flight Paths
Projects like this give us imaginative access to the lives of wild creatures, but they cannot capture the real animals’ complex paths. Instead we watch virtual animals moving across a world of eternal daylight built from a patchwork of layered satellite and aerial imagery, a flattened, static landscape free of happenstance: There are no icy winds over high mountain passes, heavy rains, soaring hawks, ripening crops or recent droughts. Despite these simplifications, following a tagged animal on a map is an addictive pursuit. It’s hard not to become invested in its fate. The bird might die, the tag might fail. You do not know where it will travel next. The bird is unaware of the eyes that watch its progress, and you veer from a sense of power at your ability to surveil at a distance to the knowledge that you are powerless to influence what happens next.
engineering  biology  tracker  story  animal  continent 
may 2015 by aries1988
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, by Caspar Henderson – review | Science | The Guardian
a gripping story of evolution that leaves us to ponder on the concept of “deep time”, the billions of years that life on Earth has evolved and of which humans are the merest fraction of a part. As Henderson puts it: “Human history with respect to life on Earth is as deep as the displacement of the smallest seabird floating on top of a wave over the deepest part of the ocean.”
book  review  biology  animal  human  evolution 
may 2015 by aries1988
The chickens are restless
SEISMOLOGISTS tend to greet the idea that some animals know when an earthquake is coming with a sizeable degree of scepticism. Though reports of odd animal…
earthquake  animal  prediction 
april 2015 by aries1988
The Lucy Kellaway Interview: Bear Grylls -
What might be more relevant to telly viewers is programmes that told them how to survive on the minimum wage, deal with ugly divorces, dementia and that sort of thing.
manhood  adventure  nature  animal  interview 
march 2015 by aries1988
In Bedbugs, Scientists See a Model of Evolution
New research indicates that some bedbugs are well on their way to becoming a new species.
animal  history  evolution 
february 2015 by aries1988
The Independent Discovery of TCP/IP, By Ants
Transmission Control Protocol, also known as TCP, is a big part of what makes the Internet possible. The Internet involves a lot of machines sending each other files including websites, videos, text documents, audio -- over a vast network of hardware including routers, cables, satellites, cellphone towers, and of course computers. The problem is that sometimes parts of the network fail -- hardware can break, or become overloaded and slow down dramatically.

If a source hosting a file is using TCP, it breaks the file down into smaller chunks, called “packets”. It sends out a bunch of packets to the requester, and monitors the acknowledgements of receipt, called “acks”, to calibrate how quickly to send the rest of the packets.

If we consider that the ant colony’s goal is to collect more food and expend fewer ants, and a server’s goal is to send a file and avoid congestion or overload, then the similarities are clear. Sending a packet through the internet is analogous to releasing a forager ant into the wild. Getting an ack of a packet’s receipt is analogous to a forager ant returning with food. If lots of acks come back quickly, this corresponds to good bandwidth availability -- just like if a lot of ants come back quickly, this corresponds to good food availability. Good availability means the release of more ants or more packets. And if ants or acks come back very slowly, or don’t come back all, then release is either slowed or shut down entirely. In the case harvester ants, shut down means foragers stop going out for a while. In the case of the Internet, the connection times out.

Through these systems, an ant colony is able to gather food while minimizing casualties, and the Internet is able to permit file transfer between machines while minimizing congestion -- all while avoiding the complexity of an active, overseeing authority. Gordon has said that, because each individual ant is so limited in its abilities, “ant algorithms have to be simple, distributed, and scalable -- the very qualities that we need in engineered distributed systems.” This is what made a functional Internet scalable from the few dozen machines it started with, to the billions that comprise it today.
animal  internet 
february 2015 by aries1988
Forget the Hounds. As Foxes Creep In, Britons Call the Sniper. -
Britain has the world’s highest known density of urban foxes, the result of their self-colonization in cities here since the 1930s. There are now more foxes in London than double-decker buses: an estimated 10,000 roam streets and gardens, often in plain view.

Like the raccoons and coyotes that bedevil American city dwellers, foxes mate noisily, leave smelly droppings, dig up flower bulbs, rifle through trash and occasionally attack pets or people. They have been vilified for killing penguins and flamingo chicks in the London Zoo, and, once, for biting off a baby’s finger.

The subject rouses great passions in a country that invented modern fox hunting in the 18th century, but also has the world’s longest tradition of animal rights. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was founded in 1824, nine years before the British Empire abolished slavery.

He charges 75 pounds, nearly $120, for the first fox and about £50 for every fox after that, disposal included. The cadavers go to a friend’s maggot farm, where they are turned into chicken feed. “Poetic justice,” Phil calls it.

The evidence suggests she is right: Research by Mr. Harris shows it takes an average of four days until a new fox takes over vacated territory. “To reduce fox numbers significantly, you would have to kill 70 percent of them every year,” he said.
uk  animal  city 
december 2014 by aries1988
La bête humaine
Au sortir de la seconde guerre mondiale, le paysage n’est plus le même. Regroupés dans des exploitations d’élevage intensif, les cheptels meurent désormais dans d’invisibles abattoirs. L’urbanisation s’intensifiant, la population perd peu à peu le contact avec les bêtes sauvages et domestiques. A la place de ces deux faunes traditionnelles émerge celle des animaux de compagnie. En quelques décennies, le nombre de chiens et de chats explose dans les villes, faisant naître une sensibilité nouvelle à la cause animale. Ce que le philosophe Francis Wolff appelle « le tournant animaliste dans l’éthique contemporaine ».

On sait désormais qu’ils sont capables de souffrance, d’émotions. Que les plus évolués d’entre eux savent mentir, mais aussi faire preuve de courage ou d’altruisme – valeurs longtemps réservées à l’espèce humaine.

le 30 octobre, une disposition a été adoptée par l’Assemblée nationale faisant passer les animaux du statut de « biens meubles » à celui d’« êtres vivants doués de sensibilité ».
animal  ethic  history  today 
december 2014 by aries1988
Why do pigs oink in English, boo boo in Japanese, and nöff-nöff in Swedish?
It’s not just pigs, the onomatopoeia we apply to most animal sounds varies delightfully across different tongues. What does this reveal about our relationship with language?
language  fun  animal  comparison 
november 2014 by aries1988
The growing problem of Pablo Escobar’s hippos
Here, conditions for hippos are idyllic. The river is slow moving and has plenty of shallows, perfect for larger animals which don't actually swim but push themselves off banks, gliding through the water. Moreover, the region never experiences drought, which tends to act as a natural brake on the size of herds in Africa.

How much the hippos like Colombia can be judged from how much sex they are having. In Africa they usually become sexually active between the ages of seven and nine for males, and nine and 11 for females, but Pablo Escobar's hippos are becoming sexually active as young as three. All the fertile females are reported to be giving birth to a calf every year.

Colombian people, he believes, are more vulnerable than Africans because they see hippos as cuddly, "floppy" animals. The respected El Colombiano newspaper recently reported that children in a school near Hacienda Napoles are sharing a pond with the animals, and having direct contact with hippo calves at home.

"My father brought a little one home once," an unnamed girl told the paper. "I called him Luna (Moon) because he was very sweet - we fed him with just milk." Another child, a boy, told the paper: "My father has captured three. It is nice because you have a little animal at home. We bottle-feed them because they only drink milk. They have a very slippery skin, you pour water and they produce a kind of slime, you touch them and it's like soap."

But adult hippos are dangerous. Despite their ungainly appearance, they are very agile in the water and can charge on land at up to 18 mph (29km/h). It's often said that hippos are responsible for more human deaths in Africa than any other animal - though it may be more accurate to say they cause more deaths than any other wild mammal.

Another idea, favoured by David Echeverri of the local environmental authority, is to build a reserve with proper hippo-proof fences. But it would be a huge challenge to round up all the feral hippos of Antioquia, and would cost an estimated $500,000 (£290,000).

He isn't joking. During experiments with electric fences a while ago, he recalls, someone misjudged the voltage and electrocuted one of the Hacienda Napoles hippos. "What did the local people do? They took him, they chopped him up, they barbecued him and they ate him!" The animal is said to have tasted similar to pork.
animal  story  human  conflict 
october 2014 by aries1988
How human noise affects the ocean – Peter Brannen – Aeon
At 5:30am I awoke to the sound of the diesel chug-chugging of a lone lobster boat carving into the glassy Atlantic. An audience of shrieking gulls hushed in the…aUnder the right conditions, fin- and blue‑whale song can carry thousands of miles, as Clark realised while listening in on the oceans using the US Navy’s global submarine detection network. He was stunned to hear a blue whale singer on the Grand Banks of Canada all the way from Puerto Rico, 1,600 miles away. However, it’s an open question whether these performers are actually trying to be heard by their audiences across the ocean.
ocean  animal  whales  biology 
october 2014 by aries1988
Monsters in the Woods
Maybe he is still out there somewhere, hiding in the shadows.
october 2014 by aries1988
‘Animated Life: Seeing the Invisible’
This animated documentary celebrates the 17th-century citizen scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, whose discovery of microbes would change our view of the…
animal  biology  discovery  netherlands  scientist  moment  history 
october 2014 by aries1988
Our Understanding of Giraffes Does Not Measure Up

Or maybe the giraffes are worried about tripping over their own feet. Heather More and Shawn O’Connor of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and their colleagues measured so-called sensorimotor responsiveness in the giraffe: how long it takes a nerve signal to travel from a muscle in the ankle up to the brain and back again. Reporting in The Journal of Experimental Biology, the researchers found that the nerve conduction rate in the giraffe is pretty much the same as it is in a shrew, rat or any other mammal.

Given the comparatively greater distance a nerve signal has to travel in the giraffe, Dr. More said, it’s possible the giraffe faces real challenges in reacting quickly to events down under — a rock beneath its hoof, or a bite to its ankle.
animal  discovery  biology 
october 2014 by aries1988
Filling the Empty Nest With Animals -
But they do belong in mine. Back inside our place, I put out a saucer of milk for our guest.

“Look how cute she is,” I said. “Our new roommate.”

My boyfriend understood.

“O.K.,” he said. “We’ll give it a try.”

That was the moment New York began to feel like home.
story  animal  newyork  growup  pet  parents  children  couple 
september 2014 by aries1988
A Man and His Cat -
Biologists call cats “exploitive captives,” an evocative phrase that might be used to describe a lot of relationships, not all of them interspecies. I made the mistake, early on, of feeding the cat first thing in the morning, forgetting that the cat could control when I woke up — by meowing politely, sitting on my chest and staring at me, nudging me insistently with her face, or placing a single claw on my lip. She refused to drink water from a bowl, coveting what she believed was the superior-quality water I drank from a glass. I attempted to demonstrate to the cat that the water we drank was the very same water by pouring it from my glass into her bowl right in front of her, but she was utterly unmoved, like a birther being shown Obama’s long-form Hawaiian birth certificate. In the end I gave in and began serving her water in a glass tumbler, which she had to stick her whole face into to drink from.

What our mass spending on products to pamper animals who seem happiest while rolling in feces or eating the guts out of rodents — who don’t, in fact, seem significantly less happy if they lose half their limbs — tells us about ourselves as a nation is probably also something we don’t want to know.

WHENEVER I felt embarrassed about factoring a house pet’s desires into major life decisions, some grown-up-sounding part of me told myself, it’s just a cat. It’s generally believed that animals lack what we call consciousness, although we can’t quite agree on what exactly this is, and how we can pretend to any certainty about what goes on in an animal’s head has never been made clear to me. To anyone who has spent time with an animal, the notion that they have no interior lives seems so counterintuitive, such an obdurate denial of the empathetically self-evident, as to be almost psychotic. I suspect that some of those same psychological mechanisms must have allowed people to rationalize owning other people.

We don’t know what goes on inside an animal’s head; we may doubt whether they have anything we’d call consciousness, and we can’t know how much they understand or what their emotions feel like. I will never know what, if anything, the cat thought of me. But I can tell you this: A man who is in a room with a cat — whatever else we might say about that man — is not alone.
pet  animal  people  life  story  best  essay  cat  love 
september 2014 by aries1988
Pourquoi les zoos peuvent tuer leurs animaux
Mais le public danois est très différent du nôtre : c'est un peuple de fermiers, qui a une vision extrêmement rurale de la gestion des populations animales. De la même manière que les corridas ou la consommation de foie gras sont acceptées, globalement, par l'opinion française – ce qui est inimaginable dans les pays du Nord –, le zoo de Copenhague pratique depuis des années des euthanasies sur ses animaux en surnombre, et cela ne choque pas son public. Entre l'obligation morale que nous avons d'assurer la viabilité d'une population à long terme, celle de veiller au bien-être des animaux et la prise en compte de la sensibilité du public, nous nous retrouvons avec des objectifs qui ne sont pas forcément compatibles. Pour résoudre ces contradictions, il faudrait pouvoir agrandir l'espace des parcs zoologiques, ou créer des réserves spécifiquement dédiées à la gestion de ces populations. Mais ce projet n'est absolument pas dans les plans des gouvernements européens... La consanguinité n'est pas un problème chez les reptiles, ni chez les invertébrés. Mais chez les mammifères, elle constitue une réelle menace à la survie des populations.

Cela veut dire qu'on laisse la mère élever son petit, parce que cela contribue à sa qualité de vie. Cela veut dire aussi que le petit, jusqu'à sa mort, a été heureux avec sa mère... Par ailleurs, l'abattage est une méthode qui, si elle est correctement appliquée (et on parle ici de professionnels qui ne ratent pas leur coup), ne fait pas souffrir l'animal. Marius était en train de manger, il ne savait pas qu'il allait mourir, il n'a pas eu peur... Tout cela a un sens, c'est une logique tout à fait défendable. Mais une logique qu'on ne peut pas accepter en France, pour des raisons essentiellement affectives et irrationnelles.
animal  human 
august 2014 by aries1988
Faut-il encore des zoos ?
« La population humaine atteindra bientôt 8 milliards d’individus, la pression urbaine ne cesse d’augmenter : il est donc primordial de conserver un contact avec la nature. Quand on sait que les parcs zoologiques – tous lieux et qualités confondus – accueillent chaque année plus de 600 millions de personnes, on mesure le potentiel de sensibilisation à l’environnement que cela représente », renchérit Colomba de La Panouse-Turnbull, directrice générale déléguée du parc et château de Thoiry (Yvelines). Mais derrière ce nouveau décor, l’objectif reste le même : acquérir et présenter des animaux à un public prêt à payer pour satisfaire sa curiosité, son goût du beau et de l’exotisme. Or, force est de constater que, sur ce terrain, les réussites se comptent sur les doigts de la main. Il y eut celle du vautour fauve, dont les résultats en France, depuis les lâchers des années 1980, ont été remarquables. Celles du bison d’Amérique, du bison d’Europe, du cheval de Przewalski, le dernier cheval sauvage au monde… Et c’est à peu près tout.

Les zoos sauront-ils accomplir cette nouvelle mue ? Se faire les messagers d’un discours véritablement environnemental ? Renoncer à présenter tout ou partie du fameux « Big Five » – éléphant, rhinocéros, lion, léopard et buffle, les cinq animaux d’Afrique considérés comme les plus dangereux par les amateurs de safari – au profit d’espèces moins spectaculaires, mais écologiquement plus essentielles ? Certains ont en tout cas amorcé le virage.
animal  debate  human 
august 2014 by aries1988
Who Wants to Shoot an Elephant?
She’s a competitive bodybuilder and does those tractor-tire and sledgehammer workouts, and there is no part of her body, from the look of it, that you couldn’t crack a walnut on.

They look like models from a Cabela’s catalog. They are companionable and jolly, and part of the pleasure of their company is the feeling that you’ve been welcomed into a kind of America where no one is ever fat or weak or ugly or gets sad about things.

Not being a hunter myself, I subscribe to an admittedly sissyish philosophy whereby I only wish brain-piercing bullets upon creatures I dislike.
I’m a little worried that some unprofessional, bleeding-heart sympathies might fog my lens when the elephant gets his bullet. So I’m trying to muster up some prophylactic loathing for the animals out here. I want to be properly psyched when the elephant goes down.

So why would you want to put a bullet in one? Well, if we are to take hunters at their word, it is because the experience of shooting an animal yields a thrill, a high that humans have been getting off on since we clubbed our first cave bear. And if you go in for this sort of thing, then it arguably stands to reason that the bigger the beast, the bigger the thrill when it hits the ground.

Rann is the most perfect exemplar I have ever met of Hemingway’s speak-softly-and-shoot-big-things-without-being-a-blowhard-about-it masculine ideal. He is lethally competent and incredibly understated and cool, even when he’s telling swashbuckling stories

Nothing in the animal world tops an elephant’s ass as an emblem of indifference and reproof.

Forty seconds elapsed between the first shot and the last, yet what happened in those forty seconds seemed to happen out of time. It was another kind of time in which a new understanding of death impressed itself upon me more rapidly than my cognition could accommodate.

An elephant gets six sets of teeth in its lifetime. This one was on its final set, and judging from its condition it was probably about 53. The sand of the savanna is hard on an elephant’s dentition. Five to seven more years and it’d have blown through this set and starved to death, assuming neither Jeff nor the poachers got him first.
humor  story  animal  environment  hunting 
july 2014 by aries1988
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