gwynhefar: (kill you with my brain)
I have long wondered what exactly it is about humans that we love carnage. Why is it that w can watch over and over on YouTube, footage of a crocodile eating a wildebeest or a lion with an antelope? Why are we thrilled by grainy pictures of murder victims in the newspaper, and why to we rubberneck bad accidents on the highway? The fascination with gore is so prevalent that it has become a clicheé: like watching a train wreck. It is, from a purely rational point-of-view, a perverse hobby, and I have often wondered why it is as prevalent as it is.

And then I came across the following quote, which explains the whole thing from an evolutionary standpoint so simple I can't believe it didn't occur to me before:

"We're not just afraid of predators, we're transfixed by them, prone to weave stories and fables and chatter endlessly about them, because fascination creates preparedness, and preparedness, survival. In a deeply tribal sense, we love our monsters."

The author, E. O. Wilson, is specifically referring to sharks, but the premise holds true not only for all other predators, but for virtual every process, animate or inanimate, that brings about a bloody end. Some primitive instinct hardwired into our brain knows that the more we study that which might kill us, learn its strengths and weaknesses through careful observation, and share with others of our 'tribe', the more likely we, both as individuals and as a species, are likely to survive an encounter with it.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the scientific, evolutionary explanation for the popularity of horror movies and nature shows. So now, next time I'm watching scenes of death and destruction on YouTube and getting a thrill out of it, I can stop feeling guilty. After all, it's a survival mechanism.
gwynhefar: (birds of a feather)
Did quite a few in the last couple days: here, here, and here.

Although the damn hybrid fowl are annoying. I have to wonder, what's the standard for a species any more? I mean, it used to be something about animals who produce fertile offspring being the same species, which is why all dogs and wolves are the same species, despite the vast differences between a dachsund and a great dane. But now we know that there are other distinct species that hybridse and produce fertile offspring, but we still call them different species. Why is that?

For example, the other day at the park I saw a bird that was obviously half muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) and half domesticated mallard (Anas platyrhynchos). It was swimming with a female that I'm pretty sure was a Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula). They had two little ducklings with them. Clearly they were fertile together. Be interesting to see what the ducklings look like when they grow up.
gwynhefar: (birds of a feather)
Intersting article on the possibility of assisted colonisation as a conservation method

If nothing else, the fourth paragraph on the second page answers my long-held question about the plural of "mongoose".
gwynhefar: (Default)
Aren't they cute?

The strange thing is, as you can see, they're actually not all white -- they're more blonde on top where normal squirrels are grey, and true white underneath. But they've got albino-red eyes. Either way, they're very cute.

gwynhefar: (Default)
There's a gorgeous luna moth trying desperately to get in through my window. I don't think I've ever seen one in the wild before. They're *huge*. And so very pretty. The cats are going nuts, of course.
gwynhefar: (birds of a feather)
I've added a bunch of pictures to my Birding Blog in the last few weeks, including the lovely ringed turtle dove I saw yesterday.
gwynhefar: (birds of a feather)
Another bird added to my birding blog.

This has been a good week, birding-wise.

Birding

Apr. 3rd, 2008 03:51 pm
gwynhefar: (birds of a feather)
Another sporadic update to what has essentially become my birding blog:

http://gwynraven.vox.com/library/post/more-birds.html

Once I get back to 100% after the surgery I'm going to take a trip to one of the local aviaries or nesting-grounds. I'm running out of birds to find in the greater Baton Rouge area.

Um . . .

Nov. 13th, 2007 06:23 pm
gwynhefar: (WTF)
Ok, so I'm reading a work written back in 15th century. The author has a tendency to extremely florid description and it's often times difficult to figure out exactly what he means. Tonight I came across the following sentence, as part of the description of a beach:

"There was also abundant evidence of the fragrant coitus of monstrous whales, brought up by the fruitful tides."

WTF? Ok, am I reading this right? Is he talking about finding *whale sperm* on the beach? Am I missing something here? I don't know much about cetacean sexual habits but I can't imagine much 'evidence' washes up on beaches.

The only thing I can think of that he might mean is ambergris, which does come from whales, but is definitely not related to coitus, being instead something similar to a gall stone.
gwynhefar: (wind)
So driving home from work this afternoon I had to drive through the typical Louisiana mid-afternoon thunderstorm. I love thunderstorms, although I'd prefer to watch them from my living room window. Anyway, I saw this one lightning strike ahead of me that appeared to actually consist of *two* exactly parallel twin strikes. I don't know if there truly were two twin strikes or if a single strike was somehow reflected off of something into appearing like a twin strike, but it was the most amazing sight. I'm home now, and it's still thundering. Nice and cozy.

Oh, and also -- there is a devastatingly cute new graduate assistant at work. She has red hair like mine only with blonde streaks in it. And she seems very nice. That she be gay and single seems like too much to ask on top all that, but we'll see.
gwynhefar: (Louisiana)
I've read the numbers millions of times since starting the project on Louisiana ecology I'm working on. But the images are what never fail to astound me.

Since 1932, a portion of Louisiana wetlands equal to the entire state of Delaware has sunken in to the sea. The current rate of land loss is at a football field every half hour. The GPS maps fishing trawlers use on their boats are out of date practically as soon as they're released, large swaths of bayou having succumbed to erosion between the survey and the production of the map.

Healing

Jul. 17th, 2007 02:19 pm
gwynhefar: (dance)
Every now and then I am amazed at the resilience of the human body. Three days ago I accidentally sliced open my finger such that the cut went through all the layers of skin and you could see the little globs of fat underneath. Now that cut is just a little red line with a layer of broken skin on top.

Even more amazing, I have a three-inch metal *clamp* holding my spine together. I have a *tumor* growing like a sheath around a branch of the longest nerve in the body, the one that controls my entire left leg. And maybe I can't bend as far as most people can, and yes, I have chronic intense pain, but dammit, I can *walk*. And if I really needed to, if my life depended on it, I could *run* too. If you think about it, that's amazing.

teethses

Nov. 5th, 2006 08:43 pm
gwynhefar: (forest)
Did anyone know that the technical term for baby teeth is "deciduous"? As in deciduous trees? I have my official "prescription" to have my wisdom teeth out (not any time *real* soon, mind you), and the area in which the dentist circles which teeth should be operated on are split into "permanent" and "deciduous". I guess it makes sense, but I never thought of that word in terms of anything other than plant life.
gwynhefar: (Default)

Great Blue Heron
Originally uploaded by gwynraven.
This is what I saw on my way into work today. One of these days I'm going to wreck my car while watching the wildlife.
gwynhefar: (Default)
So I'm going to try and start keeping track of the wildlife I see on my at least several times a week walks at lunch.

pictures )
gwynhefar: (Default)


So this is apparently a work of digital art, not a photograph. It's still gorgeous.
gwynhefar: (Chaos Theory)


Click on the photo for some more great wildlife images.
gwynhefar: (I must go down to the sea again)
Ok, so deep ocean oil drilling sucks and all that. In fact, oil drilling in general sucks, from an ecological perspective. But at least some companies are taking tiny steps in a right direction (think positive, right?).

Such as turning no-longer-profitable oil rigs to artificial reefs. See, marine life, like all life, is opportunistic, and a lot of animals tend to view the big oil rigs as high-rise condos. Whole communities build up around the rigs, and when the oil runs out, tearing down the rigs destroys the communities. So some companies are converting the old rigs to artificial reefs.

Not bad.
gwynhefar: (I must go down to the sea again)


First ever photos of a live giant squid! Story here.

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