animals

A planet where apes evolved from men?

Veterinary techs distribute food every morning to more than 5,000 monkeys at the Tulane University National Primate Research Center outside New Orleans. […] Mr. Lewis, the chief executive of Bioqual, was responsible for providing lab monkeys to pharmaceutical companies like Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, which needed the animals to develop their Covid-19 vaccines.

Unable to furnish scientists with monkeys, which can cost more than $10,000 each, about a dozen companies were left scrambling for research animals at the height of the pandemic. […] The latest shortage has revived talk about creating a strategic monkey reserve in the United States, an emergency stockpile similar to those maintained by the government for oil and grain. […]

No country can make up for what China previously supplied. Before the pandemic, China provided over 60 percent of the 33,818 primates, mostly cynomolgus macaques, imported into the United States in 2019.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

related { Drunk monkey sentenced to life behind bars after attacking 250 humans }

‘Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face.’ –Oscar Wilde

5.jpg

Most people recognize faces not from specific features, such as a unique beauty spot or the shape of a nose, but by processing them as a whole, taking in how all the features hang together. Experiments find that people are good at discriminating between facial features—like noses—when they see them in the context of a face but find it much harder when the features are seen in isolation.

Other primates, including chimpanzees and rhesus macaques, use such holistic processing. And studies have even found that honey bees and wasps, trained to recognize human faces, have more difficulty with partial faces than whole ones, suggesting holistic processing. But biologists didn’t know whether insects actually use holistic processing naturally with each other.

Now, an experiment suggests the brains of these wasps process faces all at once—similar to how human facial recognition works.

The finding suggests holistic processing might not require big, complex brains, says Rockefeller University neuroscientist Winrich Freiwald.

{ Science | Continue reading }

photo { Sheron Rupp, Untitled (Bayside, Ontario, Canada), 1995 }

Thank God they didn’t know how to run a government. It could have been a lot worse.

When a shark bit or killed a swimmer, people within the past century might take out hundreds of the marine predators to quell the panic, like executing everyone in a police lineup in order to ensure justice was dispensed on the guilty party.

Eric Clua, a professor of marine biology at the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, said the rationale behind shark culls in the past was simple: fewer sharks, fewer attacks. That reasoning also drives methods such as shark nets and baited hooks, which are currently in use at a number of Australian and South African beaches that are frequently visited by sharks. […]

Dr. Clua said he has found a way to make precision strikes on sharks that have attacked people through a form of DNA profiling he calls “biteprinting.” He believes it’s usually just solo “problem sharks” that attack humans repeatedly, analogizing them to terrestrial predators that have been documented behaving the same way. […]

This summer, Dr. Clua and several colleagues published their latest paper on collecting DNA from the biteprints of large numbers of sharks. Once a database is built, DNA could be collected from the wounds of people who were bitten by sharks, and matched to a known shark. The offending fish would then need to be found and killed.

Critics have taken issue with every facet of this plan. […]

the “rogue shark” theory, popularized by Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” has been debunked. […] the existence of problem sharks has never been proven. […] removing these guilty sharks “would be near impossible” […] Dr. Clua’s proposal would cost billions of dollars to implement on a meaningful scale in Australia, South Africa or the United States […]

However people react when shark attacks do occur, Dr. Shiffman offered the reminder that such incidents are rare. According to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida, there were 64 unprovoked attacks on humans last year and 41 provoked attacks, meaning that a person “initiates interaction with a shark in some way.”

Five of the attacks were fatal. More people are killed by falling trees in the U.S. every year.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

And if you can’t take a joke you can get the fuck out of my house

ww.jpg

When a hornet scout locates and approaches a Japanese honey bee hive, she emits specific pheromonal hunting signals. When the Japanese honey bees detect these pheromones, 100 or so gather near the entrance of the nest and set up a trap, keeping the entrance open. This permits the hornet to enter the hive.

As the hornet enters, a mob of hundreds of bees surrounds it in a ball, completely covering it and preventing it from reacting effectively. The bees violently vibrate their flight muscles in much the same way as they do to heat the hive in cold conditions. This raises the temperature in the ball to the critical temperature of 46 °C (115 °F). In addition, the exertions of the honey bees raise the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the ball. At that concentration of CO2, they can tolerate up to 50 °C (122 °F), but the hornet cannot survive the combination of high temperature and high carbon dioxide level. […]

When honey bees detect scouting hornets, they transmit an “I see you” signal that commonly warns off the predator.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

Stock market at new highs in hopes of squeezing shorts until their balls are blue

5.jpg

‘Mathematics is the simple bit. It’s the stuff we can understand. It’s cats that are complicated.’ – John J. Conway

21.jpg

{ Pete, the pet squirrel, who was a pet of U.S. President Warren G. Harding, 1922 }

Wazowski! Where is it, you little one-eyed cretin?

34.jpg

photo { Javier Ruperez, 6th place, 2019 Photomicrography Competition }

Fear causes the organism to seek safety and may cause a release of adrenaline, which has the effect of increased strength and heightened senses such as hearing, smell, and sight

In the first study [2010] of its kind, officials scoured the city’s subway system to discover what accounts for the perennial presence of rodents, a scourge since the system opened more than a century ago. […] Rodents, it turns out, reside inside station walls, emerging occasionally from cracks in the tile to rummage for food. The legend of teeming rat cities tucked deep into subway tunnels is, in fact, a myth. The electrified tracks, scientists said, are far too dangerous. […]

“They can fall 40 feet onto a concrete slab and keep running,” said Solomon Peeples, 86, a former director of the city’s Bureau of Pest Control Services. “We’re no match for them, as far as I’m concerned. Man does not stand no chance.” […]

Nothing quite excites a rat like a station’s “refuse room,” a storage space for bags of garbage waiting to be hauled away. For rodents, the room is “a restaurant,” as Dr. Corrigan called it, and he recommended that the transportation authority install poison bait in the rooms for a more surgical strike. (Currently, the authority places poison only on the tracks.) […]

Dr. Corrigan told health officials that while rats were a problem in the subways, the rodents inhabited many other public spaces, particularly parks. “Virtually all of New York,” he said, “is vulnerable to this uncanny mammal.”

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

New York has always been forced to coexist with the four-legged vermin, but the infestation has expanded exponentially in recent years, spreading to just about every corner of the city. […] Rat sightings reported to the city’s 311 hotline have soared nearly 38 percent, to 17,353 last year from 12,617 in 2014. […]

One key reason rats seem to be everywhere? Gentrification. The city’s construction boom is digging up burrows, forcing more rats out into the open, scientists and pest control experts say.

Milder winters — the result of climate change — make it easier for rats to survive and reproduce. And New York’s growing population and thriving tourism have brought more trash for rats to feed on.

Rats once scurried in the shadows but now they frolic brazenly in broad daylight. […] Parents at an Upper West Side playground said rats jumped into the sandbox where their children played, though the vermin have been cleared for now.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Traps. Poison. Birth control. Dry ice. And now, what city officials are touting as a high-tech solution: drowning. […] a bucket that would lure the rodents and send them plunging to their deaths in a mysterious vinegary concoction. The toxic potion, according to its maker, Rat Trap Inc., prevents them from rotting too quickly and emitting a stink. […]

Mr. Adams said he wants to install the newfangled traps, which cost between $300 and $400, in several locations in Brooklyn. If successful, he said he would look to expand the methodology citywide.

The pilot program has already hit one snag. Mr. Adams’s office initially placed five boxes in and around Brooklyn Borough Hall, but one was disabled by a very large rat. “It was so big it broke the spring mechanism in the box so that it was no longer functioning,” said Jonah Allon, Mr. Adams’s spokesman.

{ MSN/NY Times | Continue reading }

Direct Replication of the Predictive Validity of the Suicide-Implicit Association Test

 

Life’s a scream

34.jpg

{ Chelsea restaurant the Wilson debuts a fancy menu for dogs }

Cocaine coming out my pores in the sauna, I’m serious, man, I’m so sincere

32.jpg

As we shall see, the story of the great flood and the voyage of the ark contains so many incredible “violations of the laws of nature” that it cannot possibly be accepted by any thinking person. […]

From the moment the impending storm is announced (Genesis 6:7, 13, 17) and Jehovah sets forth the design and dimensions of the ark (Genesis 6:14-16), problems start appearing. […]

The ark is to be made out of gopher wood according to a plan that calls for the ark to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits tall (450×75x45 feet, according to most creationists. See Segraves, p. 11). It is to contain three floors, a large door in the side, and a one cubit square window at the top. The floors are to be divided into rooms, and all the walls, inside and out, are to be pitched with pitch. Since the purpose of the ark is to hold animals and plants, particularly two of “every living thing of all flesh . . . to keep them alive with thee” (Genesis 6:19), it will have to be constructed accordingly.

Before he could even contemplate such a project, Noah would have needed a thorough education in naval architecture and in fields that would not arise for thousands of years such as physics, calculus, mechanics, and structural analysis. There was no shipbuilding tradition behind him, no experienced craftspeople to offer advice. Where did he learn the framing procedure for such a Brobdingnagian structure? How could he anticipate the effects of roll, pitch, yaw, and slamming in a rough sea? How did he solve the differential equations for bending moment, torque, and shear stress? […]

As if the rough construction of the ship weren’t headache enough, the internal organization had to be honed to perfection. With space at a premium every cubit had to be utilized to the maximum; there was no room for oversized cages and wasted space. The various requirements of the myriads of animals had to be taken into account in the design of their quarters, especially considering the length of the voyage. The problems are legion: feeding and watering troughs need to be the correct height for easy access but not on the floor where they will get filthy; the cages for horned animals must have bars spaced properly to prevent their horns from getting stuck, while rhinos require round “bomas” for the same reason; a heavy leather body sling is “indispensable” for transporting giraffes; primates require tamper-proof locks on their doors; perches must be the correct diameter for each particular bird’s foot (Hirst; Vincent). Even the flooring is important, for, if it is too hard, hooves may be injured, if too soft, they may grow too quickly and permanently damage ankles (Klos); rats will suffer decubitus (ulcers) with improper floors (Orlans), and ungulates must have a cleated surface or they will slip and fall (Fowler). These and countless other technical problems all had to be resolved before the first termite crawled aboard, but there were no wildlife management experts available for consultation. Even today the transport requirements of many species are not fully known, and it would be physically impossible to design a single carrier to meet them all. […]

Genetic problems […]

Marine animals […]

Having drawn up a passenger list, the next order of business is to gather them all at dockside. At this point, the creationists themselves are unable to propound any sort of scenario in which Noah and his sons could perform such a feat, so they resort to the convenient dumping ground of the inexplicable: miracles. God himself intervened by implanting in the chosen pair from each species the instinct of migration, and by this mechanism they gathered from the four corners of the world and headed for the Plains of Shinar […] However accurate their suddenly acquired instinct, for many animals it could not have been enough to overcome the geographical barriers between them and the ark. The endemic fauna of the New World, Australia, and other remote regions, as well as animals unable to survive the Near Eastern environment, would find the journey too difficult no matter how desperately they yearned to go. Flood theorists are unperturbed by such obstacles, however, for they simply gerrymander the map to give us an antediluvian world of undivided continents and a uniform, semitropical, spring-like climate.

{ Creation/Evolution Journal | Continue reading }

art { Nobuhiko Yoshida, from JCA Annual 4, 1982 }

There’s a gentleman that’s going round, turning the joint upside down

23.jpg

There are 290 species of pigeon in the world, but only one has adapted to live in cities. Feral pigeons are synanthropes: they thrive in human environments where they can skim a living off our excess, nesting in the nooks and crannies of tall buildings that mimic the cliff faces on which their genetic ancestors – Columba livia, the rock dove – once lived. We think of pigeons as grey but they are composed of an oceanic palette: deep blues and greens flecked with white, like the crest of a wave. […]

In the 1970s and 1980s, the US Coastguard trained pigeons to recognise people lost at sea as part of Project Sea Hunt. The birds were placed in observation bubbles mounted on the bottom of helicopters and trained to peck at buttons when they spotted a scrap of coloured fabric floating in the sea. Pigeons were able to find the fabric 93 per cent of the time. Human subjects managed the same task 38 per cent of the time.

Pigeons are more intelligent than we give them credit for, one of the few animals – along with great apes, dolphins and elephants – able to pass the mirror self-recognition test. If you mark a pigeon’s wing and let it look in a mirror it will try to remove the mark, realising that what it sees is a reflected image of its own body. Pigeons can recognise video footage of themselves shown with a five-second delay (three-year-old children find it difficult to comprehend a two-second delay). They are able to recognise individuals from photographs, and a neuroscientist at Keio University in Japan has trained them to distinguish between the paintings of Matisse and Picasso. […]

The first experimental pigeon drops of Operation Columba took place at the end of 1940, and from early 1941 until September 1944 the service dropped 16,000 pigeons on small parachutes over occupied Europe, in an arc running from Copenhagen to Bordeaux. Attached to the pigeons was a questionnaire asking whoever found them to provide intelligence – on troop movements, the position of guns or radar arrays and ‘the extent to which people could hear BBC radio clearly and their views of the service it provided’ – by return of pigeon. […] Over the course of the war the Germans became, as MI6 put it, ‘pigeon minded’. Rewards were offered for pigeons turned in, and booby-trapped birds were placed in fields to injure anyone who might be tempted to send information back to Britain. […] he British, too, were worried that German spies were using birds to communicate, and a team of British falconers was established to try to intercept them, but they only managed to catch friendly birds, probably because, despite the hysteria, there were no German pigeons in Britain.

{ London Review of Books | Continue reading }

photo { Bridget Riley, Untitled (Winged Curve), 1966 }