Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Transparent frogs, science run amok?

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Well, I have thoughts about Iraq and the police state possibly developing in the USA, not to mention rumours of depression I keep hearing from various quarters. And not mental health depression, the kind where the economy goes into free fall. That will have to wait though, I thought I would go into the weekend on some nice science news. And I did promise a post on transparent frogs…

Transparent frogs, what the hell? Yes, Japanese scientists have created a breed of transparent frogs. These are frogs that have see through skin, their internal organs are visible. On the one hand it’s kind of weird creating a line of animals specifically for use research purposes. On the other hand, this has scientific uses and will reduce the number of frogs that are killed for purposes of research and education. In the former, because disease progress and such can be tracked visually without dissecting a bunch of frogs every few days in a study. In the later because students can learn about internal organs without cutting the animal open. I am sure that transparent mice and transparent pigs aren’t far behind…the farm of the future might look weirder than we ever imagined.

Do we instinctively fear spiders and snakes? A study seems to show that infants stare more at a spider shape or snake shape than they do at other shapes. Since Africa is loaded with poisonous spiders and snakes, something like this would have good survival value for early humans. The idea that an organism might be born predisposed to see certain shapes has been demonstrated with baby birds and hawk silhouettes I believe. And it’s certainly been suggested that humans might have some inherent fear of spiders and snakes, so this is not a terribly surprising discovery. If it pans out though, still interesting. What else are we born knowing? Advertisers are no doubt already looking into ways to see if they can’t induce babies to be born with brand preferences.

The secret life of crows revealed. By attaching cameras to the tail feathers of wild crows, scientists have been able to observe them in the wild. And it turns out that wild crows are quite proficient at making, modifying, and using tools. This had always been suspected, but it’s hard to really observe crows in the wild in any detail. Once again, more proof that animals are far more sophisticated than we realized, the boundary between animal and human gets thinner all the time. A picture of the crow cam can be seen here.

It’s curious to contrast this research with previous discoveries using a cat cam attached to cat’s collars. What does a cat do all day while it’s owners are slaving away earning money to buy cat food and cat litter? Not much. They sleep. They eat. They sleep some more. In this case no one ever really suspected much else, at least no one familiar with the little flea buses.

Speaking of frogs, one of the world’s tiniest frog species has been discovered in India. About one cm (less than 1/2 inch) in length, one of these little guys could sit on a US dime with room to spare. It is India’s smallest land vertebrate, and one of the smallest in the world. It’s going to be a little while before they have a camera small enough to attach to one of these, so frog cam news will have to wait.

Hmm, this seems to have ended up being “animal science news.” So be it. There’s so much going on in space exploration that I could spin off a separate blog on just that. Until a time machine is invented or I become independently wealthy, that isn’t going to happen. I do have a theory that Iran has secretly invented a time machine though, I’m surprised I don’t see more speculation about this.

Why do I think that Iran has a time machine? Because people keep earnestly telling me that Iranian meddling is behind all the problems in Palestine and Lebanon. Since the problems in Palestine and Lebanon predated the Iranian revolution by decades…how else could they be behind them if they didn’t have a time machine? I rest my case.

And I’d say I’m going to have a restful weekend, but I’m not. Plumbing job from hell. Next week, at least two really unpleasant posts about bad things in both Iraq and America. I promise.

Have a great weekend everyone.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and there is no similar public domain picture. In fact as far as I can tell this image was released into the public domain, since I can’t find out who to credit it with.)

Written by unitedcats

October 5, 2007 at 9:11 am

Posted in Science

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