Tag: animals

Varieties of life under the sea

July 21, 2010 | By | Reply More
Varieties of life under the sea

I am continually amazed at the wide variety of shapes of plant and animal life. Today, I ran across this series of photos of sea life, some of it from the deep sea. If I had been asked to design a new underwater life form, my imagination would not possibly have been able to concoct functioning animals like these. It’s incredible that each of these life forms continues to live today, the successor to a long series of earlier and simpler life forms.

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Principal drowns hundreds of grade school students in school basement

May 11, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More
Principal drowns hundreds of grade school students in school basement

ASSIMULATED PRESS 2009 As the police were hauling Principal Soeht away in handcuffs, a reporter shouted one last question: “Why did you drown hundreds of students in the basement of Tarara Elementary School?” Soeht stared angrily at the reporter and replied, “Because almost all of those children were badly behaved and because I am the […]

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Major league petting zoo.

April 12, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More
Major league petting zoo.

Have you ever been to a petting zoo like this? It’s in Argentina, and it’s called the Zoo Lujan. I wondered whether this was a legit story, but I’ve seen confirmation at other blogs like this.

This reminded me of an advertisement for a snake amusement park which I spotted when I was in China ten years ago. The ad indicated that for an admission fee, children get to enter a swimming pool full of snakes. The ad even included a photo of children in a big pool full of snakes.

I’m such a coward . . .

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The not-simple question of defining “species”?

March 30, 2009 | By | 3 Replies More
The not-simple question of defining “species”?

There are a lot of simple things out there that aren’t really simple once you start trying to understand and explain them. The concept of “species” is one of those non-simple concepts. I had assumed that I had a good gut understanding of “species” until I read an article called “Speciation,” by Andrew P. Hendry, published in the March 12, 2009 edition of Nature (available online only to subscribers). Hendry suggests that the term “species” as a technical classification in the field of biology is “ambiguous and amorphous.” He starts by quoting Darwin, from on the origin of species:

In short, we shall have to treat species in the same manner as those naturalists treat genera, who admit that genera are merrily artificial combinations made for convenience. This may not be a cheering prospect; but we shall at least be free from the vain search for the undiscovered and undiscoverable essence of the term species.

Hendry suggests that modern biological research has proved Darwin. No universal easily applicable concept of “species” exists; instead, more than two dozen approaches exist with regard to “species.” The most common version is the “biological species concept” (BSC). This definition holds that species are “groups of actually or potentially interbreeding individuals that are reproductively isolated from other such groups (that is, they exchange few genes). Hendry elaborates:

The BSC is sometimes interpreted to imply the extreme situation where two groups are separate species only when successful hybrids cannot ever be produced-and any two such groups certainly are separate species. But many other groups that are widely accepted to represent separate species frequently violate the strict criteria; for example, some estimates hold that 25% of all plant species and 10% of all animal species hybridize successfully with at least one other species. Probably for this reason, the BSC is often relaxed to the point that different groups are considered separate species if they can maintain their genetic integrity and nature. This more useful, albeit more ambiguous, criterion allows for some genetic exchange (gene flow) between species as long as they do not become homogenized.

Hendry then goes on to discuss various challenges to BSC.

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The sad sad story of downer cows and the USDA

February 4, 2008 | By | 10 Replies More
The sad sad story of downer cows and the USDA

I learned of the issue of “downer cows” by reading a report on Common Dreams: You wouldn’t think you could “spin” a video that shows slaughterhouse workers electric shocking downer cows, “water boarding” them, jabbing their eyes with herding paddles and ramming them with forklift blades while they squeal in pain, posted at www.hsus.org, but […]

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Why eating meat is bad for the environment

September 22, 2007 | By | 15 Replies More
Why eating meat is bad for the environment

This issue of eating meat is gaining more momentum, as people start realizing the toll that meat-eating is putting on the environment.  Raising farm animals contributes more greenhouse gases to the environment than all transportation (cars, trains, airplanes and anything else) combined. This excerpt is from an article on Common Dreams, entitled “Nuggets and Hummers […]

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