AIDS? That’s not cute and cuddly.

14 08 2006

today’s soundtrack: Crystal Castles

so while everyone and their brother is talking about the international AIDS conference, to which Canada’s prime minister decided not to go to, and that advocates a return to researchers actually “sharing their results” rather than everyone racing for the big money-making patent, i’m going to focus on a much more interesting topic.

Squirrels.

ok, actually i’ll be talking about the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society in Utah; more specifically, what Nature’s newsblog deems most interesting from said conference.

but alot of it is squirrel related…

read it though. insight into animal behavior could be applied to man, since humans are the most dangerous prey animals of all. unless you’re a special creationist. then we’re created in God’s own image *stifled laughter*.
chapter 1: squirrels vs the rattler

in utah, there seems to be lots of a)squirrels and b)rattle snakes. ok, i don’t know about that, but apparently SOMEWHERE squirrels are shaking their nuts off when in the vicinity of a rattler. now, snakes have decent, at best, sight and hearing, but they can smell the something off a something, let me tell you! as any 4th-grader knows, they smell by using their tongue to detect airborn particles. the cool thing is, since their tongues are forked, they evolved a sort of directional sense of smell. so, more squirrel scent on the left part of their tongue, means squirrel activity to the left. now what University of California:Davis researchers are claiming, is that squirrels are getting a leg up on snakes by coating themselves in snake “scent.” and they’re doing that by chewing on shed snake-skin, then licking their bodies, thus masking their own scent with the snake’s.

chapter 2: robbing the craddle

so spiders are pretty crazy when it comes to mating. perfect example: the red back- belonging to the species commonly known as black widows. males will mate VERY aggresively, to the point that they have been found to rip apart female’s exoskeletons during the horizontal shuffle. the fact that males can only mate once in a lifetime (because they either die shortly after due to exhaustion, or get eaten by the ladies) makes it all the more important that they catch a female at the height of sexual maturity. UofToronto:Scarborough researchers have found that it is not uncommon for males to live alongside a young female until it has fully sexually developed, in order to get first crack at the pot and make sure no other guys get in on the action. creepy.

chapter 3: **insert Robocop quote here**
this is just awesome. so back to snakes and squirrels. snakes also have the ability to detect infrared radiation. meaning that even if the cabin lights went off, and he stood perfectly still, a snake could still detect Sam Jackson on a plane because he would be radiating IR in the form of body heat. so those crazy UCal:Davis boys, who first found that squirrels will wildly swish their tails around when a snake is approaching, crammed a space heater into the tail of a stuffed squirrel, attached the whole thing to a couple strings, and practiced their marionette skills in the vicinity of a california rattle snake. swoosh the tail with the heat on = snake freaking out. keep the heater off and swoosh=snake’s cool as a cucumber.
more when i read it.

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