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Tag Archives: Wild Life

Animals Keep Creating Mysteries by Sounding Weird

In late 2016, American diplomats living in Cuba started hearing a strange noise in their homes. It was high-pitched, deafening, and persistent—and no one could work out where it was coming from.

In the following years, the mystery ballooned into an international incident. Many of the diplomats experienced dizziness, insomnia, hearing loss, and other troubling symptoms. A team from the University of Pennsylvania examined 21 affected people and concluded that they had “sustained injury to widespread brain networks,” based on evidence that other neurologists said was “almost unbelievably flimsy.” Donald Trump, without evidence, accused Cuba of being responsible. Various parties argued that the strange noise was the result of a sonic weapon, a microwave attack, or malfunctioning eavesdropping equipment.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/sound-haunted-diplomats-cuba-crickets/579637/

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2019 in South America

 

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Invasion of the ‘frankenbees’: the danger of building a better bee

he spring of 2008 was brutal for Europe’s honeybees. In late April and early May, during the corn-planting season, dismayed beekeepers in Germany’s upper Rhine valley looked on as whole colonies perished. Millions of bees died. France, the Netherlands and Italy reported big losses, but in Germany the incident took on the urgency of a national crisis. “It was a disaster,” recalled Walter Haefeker, German president of the European Professional Beekeepers Association. “The government had to set up containers along the autobahn where beekeepers could dump their hives.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/16/frankenbees-genetically-modified-pollinators-danger-of-building-a-better-bee

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2019 in Reportages

 

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The Insect Apocalypse Is Here


Sune Boye Riis was on a bike ride with his youngest son, enjoying the sun slanting over the fields and woodlands near their home north of Copenhagen, when it suddenly occurred to him that something about the experience was amiss. Specifically, something was missing.

It was summer. He was out in the country, moving fast. But strangely, he wasn’t eating any bugs.

For a moment, Riis was transported to his childhood on the Danish island of Lolland, in the Baltic Sea. Back then, summer bike rides meant closing his mouth to cruise through thick clouds of insects, but inevitably he swallowed some anyway. When his parents took him driving, he remembered, the car’s windshield was frequently so smeared with insect carcasses that you almost couldn’t see through it. But all that seemed distant now. He couldn’t recall the last time he needed to wash bugs from his windshield; he even wondered, vaguely, whether car manufacturers had invented some fancy new coating to keep off insects. But this absence, he now realized with some alarm, seemed to be all around him. Where had all those insects gone? And when? And why hadn’t he noticed?

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2018 in Reportages

 

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Wound treatment and selective help in a termite-hunting ant

Open wounds are a major health risk in animals, with species prone to injuries likely developing means to reduce these risks. We therefore analysed the behavioural response towards open wounds on the social and individual level in the termite group-hunting ant Megaponera analis.

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/285/1872/20172457

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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When Humans War, Animals Die

In 1977, two years after declaring independence from Portugal, Mozambique erupted into civil war. Over the next 15 years, the violent conflict claimed at least a million lives—and that was just the humans.

Government troops and resistance fighters also slaughtered their way through the wildlife in the nation’s renowned Gorongosa National Park, once touted as a natural paradise. Thousands of elephants were hunted for their ivory, which was sold to buy arms and supplies. Zebras, wildebeest, and buffalo were killed for meat. Around 90 percent of the park’s large mammals were shot or died of starvation.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/01/when-humans-war-animals-die/549902/?utm_source=feed

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘A different dimension of loss’: inside the great insect die-off

The Earth is ridiculously, burstingly full of life. Four billion years after the appearance of the first microbes, 400m years after the emergence of the first life on land, 200,000 years after humans arrived on this planet, 5,000 years (give or take) after God bid Noah to gather to himself two of every creeping thing, and 200 years after we started to systematically categorise all the world’s living things, still, new species are being discovered by the hundreds and thousands.

In the world of the systematic taxonomists – those scientists charged with documenting this ever-growing onrush of biological profligacy – the first week of November 2017 looked like any other. Which is to say, it was extraordinary. It began with 95 new types of beetle from Madagascar. But this was only the beginning. As the week progressed, it brought forth seven new varieties of micromoth from across South America, 10 minuscule spiders from Ecuador, and seven South African recluse spiders, all of them poisonous. A cave-loving crustacean from Brazil. Seven types of subterranean earwig. Four Chinese cockroaches. A nocturnal jellyfish from Japan. A blue-eyed damselfly from Cambodia. Thirteen bristle worms from the bottom of the ocean – some bulbous, some hairy, all hideous. Eight North American mites pulled from the feathers of Georgia roadkill. Three black corals from Bermuda. One Andean frog, whose bright orange eyes reminded its discoverers of the Incan sun god Inti.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/14/a-different-dimension-of-loss-great-insect-die-off-sixth-extinction

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Reportages

 

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Our selective blindness is lethal to the living world

What you see is not what others see. We inhabit parallel worlds of perception, bounded by our interests and experience. What is obvious to some is invisible to others. I might find myself standing, transfixed, by the roadside, watching a sparrowhawk hunting among the bushes, astonished that other people could ignore it. But they might just as well be wondering how I could have failed to notice the new V6 Pentastar Sahara that just drove past.

As the psychologist Richard Wiseman points out: “At any one moment, your eyes and brain only have the processing power to look at a very small part of your surroundings … your brain quickly identifies what it considers to be the most significant aspects of your surroundings, and focuses almost all of its attention on these elements.” Everything else remains unseen.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/20/selective-blindness-lethal-natural-world-open-eyes-environment-ecosystem

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Sucker, the Sucker!

In 1815, 15 years before he made his most famous print, The Great Wave, Hokusai published three volumes of erotic art. In one of them there is a woodcut print known in English as ‘The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife’ and in Japanese as ‘Tako to ama’, ‘Octopus and Shell Diver’. It depicts a naked woman lying on her back, legs spread and eyes closed, while a huge red octopus performs cunnilingus on her. The octopus’s slit eyes bulge between the woman’s legs and its suckered limbs wrap around her writhing body. A second, smaller octopus inserts its beak into the woman’s mouth while curling the thin tip of an arm around her left nipple. In Europe, the print was interpreted as a scene of rape, but the critics didn’t read Japanese. In the text arranged in the space around the three entwined bodies, the shell diver exclaims: ‘You hateful octopus! Your sucking at the mouth of my womb makes me gasp for breath! Ah! Yes … it’s … there! With the sucker, the sucker! … There, there! … Until now it was I that men called an octopus! An octopus! … How are you able? … Oh! Boundaries and borders gone! I’ve vanished!’

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n17/amia-srinivasan/the-sucker-the-sucker

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2017 in Reportages

 

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Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown

Which of these would you name as the world’s most pressing environmental issue? Climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, plastic waste or urban expansion? My answer is none of the above. Almost incredibly, I believe that climate breakdown takes third place, behind two issues that receive only a fraction of the attention.

Source: Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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For insect detectives, the trickiest cases involve the bugs that aren’t there

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Gale Ridge could tell something was wrong as soon as the man walked into her office at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. He was smartly dressed in a collared shirt and slacks, but his skin didn’t look right: It was bright pink, almost purple — and weirdly glassy.Without making eye contact, he sat hunched in the chair across from Ridge and began to speak. He was an internationally renowned physician and researcher. He had taught 20 years’ worth of students, treating patients all the while, and had solved mysteries about the body’s chemistry and how it could be broken by disease. But now, he was having health issues he didn’t know how to deal with.“He was being eaten alive by insects,” Ridge, an entomologist, recalled recently. “He described these flying entities that were coming at him at night and burrowing into his skin.”Their progeny, too, he said, seemed to be inside his flesh. He’d already seen his family doctor and dermatologist. He’d hired an exterminator to no avail. He had tried Epsom salts, vinegar, medication. So he took matters into his own hands, filling his bathtub with insecticide and clambering in for some relief.But even that wasn’t working. The biting, he said, would begin again. Ridge tried her best to help. “What I did was talk to him, explaining the different biologies of known arthropods that can live on people … trying to get him to understand that what he is seeing is not biologically known to science,” she said.

Source: For insect detectives, the trickiest cases involve the bugs that aren’t there

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Reportages

 

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