Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Animal communication is an open secret

Animal communication is an open secret. They are sending signals out in the open but we have no way of comprehending these signs that are all around us. (See entomology of "comprehend": com- "completely" (see com-) + prehendere "to catch hold of, seize", see prehensile)
In other words, we had no idea why the Tarsier primate open and closed its mouth from time to time. Nor did we understand why arctic Snowy Owls would turn their feathers at a particular angle to the sun. Only recently have we discovered that they are communicating, sending out signs and waves. What other animal communication goes unknown and unnoticed by us? The earth (and indeed the universe) is replete with languages and meanings. Listen he who has ears to hear.

"these tiny primates can send and receive ultrasonic calls, joining a select club of mammals with the same acoustic talent—namely, whales, dolphins, cats, rats and bats. Researchers already knew that tarsiers make at least 15 distinct calls—all of which are audible to people—but until now no one had good evidence that they also communicate with ultrasonic shrieks"

"Snowy owls use their white feathers to reflect sunlight, warning rivals of their presence"

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Day of the Dolphin

The film Day of the Dolphin is inspired by Lilly's work on dolphin intelligence. In the film the dolphins are trained by a 'good' scientist then 'kidnapped' to be used to kill the US President. The Simpons parody the film and undo the anthropocentrism by showing intelligent dolphins invading land and wrecking havoc on humanity. This then became a video game but which, alas, became anthropocentric as gamers play as the human characters to beat back the dolphins. When do we get to join the animal revolution?! And when do we get to undermine the head of state?

Neanderthals challenge humanism

The walls of the humanist subject turn out to be rather porous. 

We are part Neanderthal or as as Riel-Salvatore says “Recent sequencing of ancient Neanderthal DNA indicates that Neanderthal genes make up from 1 to 4 percent of the genome of modern populations – especially those of European descent. While they disappeared as a distinctive form of humanity, they live on in our genes." 

The oldest works of art are not by humans, but by neanderthals. Anthropologists have found neanderthal paintings of seals on a cave in Spain's Costa del Sol dating from approx. 40,000 BCE. Scientist Jose Luis Sanchidrian describes it as a "bombshell" to how we think about culture.

UPDATE: a Neanderthal built structure from stalagmites in the Bruniquel Cave in southern France. The structure dates to approximately 175,000 years ago. Its purpose is unknown. It was not thought that neanderthal built elaborate structures but this circle structure deep in a cave suggests some interest in building. Its purpose remains unknown. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Animals are better than you

So many animals with such capacities outstripping us. Don't mind the laugh track in the video... it is the uncomfortable laugh of those who know their end is near.