Tag: Manufactured Animals

the reason why cities have squirrels

Squirrels Are in Cities to Keep Us Sane

If you stroll through a park in an American city, you might assume that all the squirrels you see got there on their own. After all, where there’s trees, there’s usually nuts, and where’s there’s nuts, there’s squirrels. But it turns out that those nut-bearing trees were specifically planted to support squirrels, and that all those squirrels were brought there on purpose. It turns out the existence of urban squirrels is linked to a history of changing attitudes towards nature, the wilderness, and animals:

The squirrel fad really took off in the 1870s, thanks to Frederick Law Olmstead’s expansive parks… the movement to fill the parks with squirrels “was related to the idea that you want to have things of beauty in the city, but it was also part of a much broader ideology that says that nature in the city is essential to maintaining people’s health and sanity, and to providing leisure opportunities for workers who cannot travel outside the city.” These squirrels were possibly the only wildlife the workers would ever see.

Read more about city squirrels at Gizmodo. Photo of a fry-loving squirrel via Serious Eats.

ecological collapse of easter island

A More Interesting, More Depressing Theory of Easter Island’s Downfall

Easter Island has long been used as a parable for environmental destruction: a once-mighty civilization brought low by its wanton overuse of natural resources. The islanders cut down all their trees for farming and silly stone heads, so the story goes, and reduced the paradise of Rapa Nui to a windswept grassland. However, a new theory about the collapse of Easter Island challenges this traditional assumption. It takes the blame away from humans and puts it on rats.

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new york city dogs hunt for rats
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New York’s Dogs Hunt for Dangerous Game: City Rats

Before the advent of broadcast sports or animal rights legislation, a night at the pub used to mean one thing: watching small terriers snap the spines of dozens, if not hundreds, of rats. Sporting men placed bets on how many rats a dog could kill in a set period of time. Nowadays, dog breeds bred to hunt rats, rabbits, badgers don’t get much of a chance to exercise their killer instincts. The Ryders Alley Trencher-fed Society (RATS) in New York, however, have figured out how to harness their dog’s inborn talents in order to make a (small) dent in the city’s rodent problem.

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Manufactured Animals

Delivery Drones Are Coming

Drones are typically thought of as flying spying robots, or even worse flying spying shooting robots. But could we also employ drones for good? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos certainly thinks so. In a 60 Minutes interview, he announced that Amazon wants to use octocopters to deliver your order within a half hour at any location you choose.

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Image via breakingcopy.com

How Much is a Polar Bear Worth?

About $420,000, if you ask Canada. According to a report commissioned by the Canadian government, its citizens would be willing to pay $6.3 billion dollars per year to ensure that the white creatures continue to wander their vast arctic home. That’s about $500 per household, and with around 15,000 polar bears in Canada today, it equates to about $420,000 per bear. Look at the numbers a little closer, though, and you may notice that the direct benefits associated with the bears (mostly tourism and hunting) add up to a statistically insignificant $9 million per year, meaning that nearly all of the value of polar bears (at least to Canada) is qualitative, or something along the lines of “we just like them.” But why?

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give birth to an endangered species

Hate Babies? Why Not Give Birth to an Endangered Species?

The world is polluted, overcrowded, and in economic trouble. Why bring a baby into this mess? If your mothering instinct is still too strong to resist the lure of pregnancy, artist Ai Hase-Gawa has a solution: give birth to an endangered species. Rather than creating another human in a world that already has 7 billion of them, Hase-Gawa suggests that aspiring mothers get pregnant with a shark, salmon, bluefin tuna or a conveniently baby-sized Maui’s dolphin. Would you be less likely to crave a plate of sushi if it were made with your own offspring?

Artificial Womb

The Birth of the Artificial Womb

Scientists at Juntendo University in Tokyo have developed a practice called EUFI, extrauterine fetal incubation. In EUFI, the researchers take goat fetuses, thread catheters through the large vessels in the umbilical cord and supply the fetuses with oxygenated blood while suspending them in incubators that contain artificial amniotic fluid heated to body temperature.

It may seem that Aldous Huxley’s words from Brave New World have come to life: “One by one the eggs were transferred from their test-tubes to the larger containers; deftly the peritoneal lining was slit, the morula dropped into place, the saline solution poured . . . and already the bottle had passed on through an opening in the wall, slowly on into the Social Predestination Room”.

Find more on Before It’s News.

Manufactured Animals

Wild Ones

Typically when we look at nature we exclude ourselves. Finally there is a book looking at people looking at animals (in America).

cockroach farming
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Cockroach Farms Do Big Business for Food and Pharmaceuticals

The secret ingredient in Chinese traditional medicine? Ground-up cockroach. Many farmers in China are turning to one of the world’s most reviled bugs to make big bucks. They’re cheap to feed (they live on rotting vegetables), easy to kill (dunk them in boiling water) and easy to store (dry them in the sun). Farmers are making a healthy profit selling the roaches to researchers studying whether the pulverized insects can be used to cure baldness, AIDS and cancer. They also wind up as fish food and even, sometimes, as deep-fried snacks for humans.

Read more about roach ranching at the LA Times.