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Limited space for animals - how is that bad?

Limited space for animals - how is that bad?



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I am writing an English paper wherein I have to appeal for change in the way humans treat wildlife. I was initially given a situation wherein I took a ferry in a certain area and saw a dead baby dolphin.

Along the way, I (it is written in second person) apparently notice how little water is now available for the dolphins (due to some bridge being constructed).

What exactly is bad for dolphins (or animals in general) when they have limited space to roam around?

So far I thought of dolphins hitting boats due to the crowded state of the area in question.


The building of a bridge on a river seems like an example of habitat fragmentation. There are a number of reasons why this may be detrimental to the animals.

  • Reduced resources available. I'm not too familiar with dolphins, but all animals need food, shelter and a place to raise their young. A smaller habitat can't support as many animals due to limited resources.

  • Isolation from other habitats. The bridge may cut off the dolphins on one side of the bridge from the other side, meaning they can't mate with dolphins on the other side or migrate. The fact that dolphins on one side of the bridge can only mate with the other dolphins that share that size causes a decrease in the genetic variability on both sides of the bridge. Decreased genetic variability means an increase in inbreeding depression and reduced ability to adapt to disease and environmental changes.

  • The edge effect. This means that areas next to the edge of the habitat (i.e. next to the bridge) will be even less suitable than they were before


After 2,500 Studies, It's Time to Declare Animal Sentience Proven (Op-Ed)

Marc Bekoff, emeritus professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is one of the pioneering cognitive ethologists in the United States, a Guggenheim Fellow, and co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. This essay is adapted from one that appeared in Bekoff's column Animal Emotions in Psychology Today. He contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

In June, during a series of lectures I presented in Germany, a number of people asked questions of the sort, "Isn't it about time we accept that animals are sentient and that we know what they want and need? Shouldn't we stop bickering about whether they are conscious, feel pain and experience emotions?"

Of course, this isn't the first time I've heard those questions, and my answer is always a resounding, Yes. Scientists do have ample, detailed, empirical facts to declare that nonhuman animals are sentient beings, and with each study, there are fewer and fewer skeptics.

Many people, like those at the lectures in Germany, are incredibly frustrated that skeptics still deny what researchers know. Advocates for animal welfare want to know what society is going to do with the knowledge we have to help other animals live in a human-dominated world.

Declaring consciousness

As I was flying home, I thought of a previous essay I wrote called "Scientists Finally Conclude Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious Beings" in which I discussed the the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness that was publicly proclaimed on July 7, 2012, at that university. The scientists behind the declaration wrote, "Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates."

They could also have included fish, for whom the evidence supporting sentience and consciousness is also compelling (see also). And, I'm sure as time goes on, researchers will add many other animals to the consciousness club.

A universal declaration on animal sentience

Based on the overwhelming and universal acceptance of the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness I offer here what I call a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience. For the purpose of this essay I am defining "sentience" as "the ability to feel, perceive, or be conscious, or to experience subjectivity" (for wide-ranging discussion please click here.)

I don't offer any specific, geographic location for this declaration because, with very few exceptions, people worldwide &mdash including researchers and non-researchers alike &mdash accept that other animals are sentient beings.

One notable exception is Oxford University's Marian Dawkins who continues to claim we still don't know if other animals are conscious &mdash using the same data as those who wrote the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness. I call this Dawkins's Dangerous Idea.

But, the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare is instead based on what I believe is the indisputable fact that animals are sentient and that they can suffer and feel pain, as recognized by the Treaty of Lisbon and the rapidly growing field of compassionate conservation. Evidence of animal sentience is everywhere &mdash the remaining questions are a matter of why sentience evolved, not if it evolved.

Research supporting animal sentience

The database of research on animal sentience is strong and rapidly growing. Scientists know that individuals from a wide variety of species experience emotions ranging from joy and happiness to deep sadness, grief, and post-traumatic stress disorder, along with empathy, jealousy and resentment. There is no reason to embellish those experiences, because science is showing how fascinating they are (for example, mice, rats, and chickens display empathy) and countless other "surprises" are rapidly emerging.

A large amount of data are available on an interactive website called the "Sentience Mosaic" launched by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA for more details please see also), which is dedicated to animal sentience.

An essay written by Helen Proctor and her colleagues at WSPA provides a systematic review of the scientific literature on sentience. The effort used a list of 174 keywords and the team reviewed more than 2,500 articles on animal sentience. They concluded: "Evidence of animal sentience is everywhere."

Of particular interest is that Proctor and her colleagues also discovered "a greater tendency for studies to assume the existence of negative states and emotions in animals, such as pain and suffering, than positive ones like joy and pleasure." This is consistent with the historical trend of people who readily denied emotions such as joy, pleasure and happiness to animals accepting that animals could be mad or angry (see also Helen Proctor's "Animal Sentience: Where Are We and Where Are We Heading?"). There is also an upward trend in the number of articles published on animal sentience (identified using sentience-related keywords) from 1990 to 2011.

Solid evolutionary theory &mdash namely, Charles Darwin's ideas about evolutionary continuity in which he recognized that the differences among species in anatomical, physiological and psychological traits are differences in degree rather than kind &mdash also supports the wide-ranging acceptance of animal sentience. There are shades of gray, not black and white differences, so if people have a trait, "they" (other animals) have it too. This is called evolutionary continuity and shows that it is bad biology to rob animals of the traits they clearly possess. One telling example: humans share with other mammals and vertebrates the same areas of the brain that are important for consciousness and processing emotions.

Humans are not uniquely sentient

People surely are not exceptional or alone in the arena of sentience. We need to abandon the anthropocentric view that only big-brained animals such as ourselves, nonhuman great apes, elephants and cetaceans (dolphins and whales) have sufficient mental capacities for complex forms of sentience and consciousness.

So, the interesting and challenging question is why has sentience evolved in diverse species, not if it has evolved. It's time to stop pretending that people don't know if other animals are sentient: We do indeed know what other animals want and need, and we must accept that fact.

Nonhuman-animal minds aren't as private as some people claim them to be. Surely, we might miss out on some of the nitty-gritty details, but it is safe to say that other animals want to live in peace and safety and absent from fear, pain and suffering, just as we do.

(Nonhuman animals even worry &mdash despite the erroneous claim that they don't, ample evidence shows they do worry about their well-being ("Do Animals Worry and Lose Sleep When They're Troubled?") and that excessive worrying and a lack of rest and sleep can be costly.)

While some people still claim that we do not know that other animals are sentient beings, countless animals continue to suffer in the most egregious ways as they are used and abused for research, education, food, clothing and entertainment. And indeed, animal sentience is assumed in many comparative studies and recent legislation &mdash such as policies protecting chimpanzees from invasive research, based on what is known about these amazing sentient beings. [America's Fleeting Chance to Correct Chimps' Endangered Status]

Society really doesn't need any additional invasive research to move on and strongly declare that other animals are sentient, though studies continue. For example, Farm Sanctuary has put out a call for proposals for observational research on the cognitive and emotional lives of farm animals. Some researchers are indeed looking into using brain imaging to access the minds of other animals (see for example Emory University's Gregory Berns's work with dogs Dr. Berns told me that he now has 11 dogs who are "MRI-certified").

Moving forward as a society

The time is now to shelve outdated and unsupported ideas about animal sentience and to factor sentience into all of the innumerable ways in which we encounter other animals. When the Cambridge Declaration was made public, there was a lot of pomp, champagne and media coverage. There is no need to have this fanfare for a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience. It can be a deep, personal, and inspirational journey that comes from each of our hearts &mdash and such a realization has a strong, and rapidly growing, evidence-based foundation.

The animals will be grateful and warmly thank us for paying attention to the science of animal sentience. When we listen to our hearts, we are recognizing how much we know about what other animals are feeling and that we owe it to them to protect them however we can. Please, let's do it now. It is easy to do and we can do no less.

This article was adapted from "A Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience: No Pretending" in Psychology Today. More of the author's essays are available in "Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed" (New World Library, 2013). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.This version of the article was originally published on LiveScience.


Small Sample Size Decreases Statistical Power

The power of a study is its ability to detect an effect when there is one to be detected. This depends on the size of the effect because large effects are easier to notice and increase the power of the study.

The power of the study is also a gauge of its ability to avoid Type II errors. A Type II error occurs when the results confirm the hypothesis on which the study was based when, in fact, an alternative hypothesis is true. A sample size that is too small increases the likelihood of a Type II error skewing the results, which decreases the power of the study.


2. Dangers Associated with Xenotransplantation

Pigs have been the animals of choice for organ donation, specifically heart, but also kidneys and islet cells of the pancreas. There are numerous reasons for this. Pig organs, particularly the heart, are comparable in size to that of humans. In addition, pigs, as domesticated animals, can easily be raised in relatively controlled confinements, which is not the case with nonhuman primates. In addition, because of genetic relatedness with nonhuman primates, there is a greater risk of disease spread in the case of primates. Additionally, pigs have relatively large litters—up to a dozen piglets at a time𠅊nd have a relatively short gestation period three months, three weeks, and three days. For these reasons, certain governments, for example that of the UK, have strongly discouraged and even banned nonhuman primates as candidates for transplantation. See the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’s comprehensive report on xenotransplantation [2]. (The logic implicit in the use of pig hearts for human transplantation also holds in the case of other transplantable organs such as kidneys and livers, and islet cells for elimination of diabetes.)

As of mid-April 2019, an Israeli scientist has announced achieving three-dimensional printing of the human heart [3]. It is as yet too early to tell if this is a practicable alternative to xenotransplantation. Since it is created from the patient’s own cells, the problem of immunological rejection may be circumvented.

The most significant issue with using animals for a source of transplanted organs (xenotransplantation) for humans is immunological rejection of the organ, with the human immune system recognizing the foreign organ as “not-self” and correlatively rejecting it. In what is known as “hyper-acute rejection”, the body begins to reject the organ virtually as soon as it is implanted [4].

In the case of genetically engineered pigs, however, a small amount of human genetic material can be injected into the developing pig embryo, so that the resulting piglet is not recognized as foreign. In 2016, National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers announced that a pig heart had been kept alive in a baboon for three years. The use of immune-system-suppressing drugs has also reduced the probability of rejection.

An additional major danger with xenotransplantation are the endogenous retroviruses carried by pigs, which are capable of making humans very sick although not harming the pigs [4]. These viruses are called porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs). One salient example of a PERV was the virus likely responsible for an epidemic of swine flu in 2009, which took about a quarter of a million human lives. Another example is the Nipah virus, which caused an epidemic of encephalitis in Singapore and Malaysia. One can speculate that some of these viruses could conceivably not be recognized until such time as they created disastrous epidemics. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are also capable of being transplanted into humans through the use of swine organs. In addition to infecting a grant recipient, some of these diseases may spread “horizontally” across a community, serving as a danger to public health. All of this clearly illustrates the great extent to which xenotransplants represent grave danger.

In addition, concerns for safety for the transplant recipient, as well as for public health, put a severe limitation on the privacy of such recipients, as they need to be monitored for pathogens dangerous to them and others, for what may possibly be very extended lengths of time, which in turn affects the privacy not only of the recipient, but also of his or her family, friends, work associates and others with whom he or she is in contact. Thus, there arises an ethical tension between the good of the recipient and the good of society. Correlatively, it is extremely unlikely that the identity of those receiving xenotransplants can be kept confidential, so it is quite possible that such people will be seen as significantly different, or even as 𠇏reaks”, particularly if the recipient is a child and will likely be subject to taunting with locutions like “pig heart” regularly thrown at them, which in turn can cause significant psychological damage. Another ethical issue associated with xenotransplantation is the question of how such organs would be distributed. What is a fair way to assure equitable distribution of both risks and benefits [5]?

In sum, there are a variety of dangers associated with xenotransplantation, both for recipients and for the public at large. As yet, however, none of these projected dangers have come to pass, in part because there have been no successful xenotransplants. Governments have been extremely cautious about allowing unrestricted research into xenotransplantation to proceed, presumably because of societal hesitation regarding all aspects of biotechnology.


HUMAN DECENCY IS ANIMAL

During the American wars of this century, a large percentage of Congressional Medals of Honoi were awarded to men who threw themselves on top of grenades to shield comrades, aided the rescue of others from battle sites at the price of certain death to themselves, or made other, often carefully considered but extraordinary, decisions that led to the same fatal end. Such altruistic suicide is the ultimate act of courage and emphatically deserves the country's highest honor. It is also only the extreme act that lies beyond the innumerable smaller performances of kindness and giving that bind societies together. One is tempted to leave the matter there, to accept altruism as simply the better side of human nature. Perhaps, to put the best possible construction on the matter, conscious altruism is a transcendental quality that distinguishes human beings from animals. Scientists are nevertheless not accustomed to declaring any phenomenon off limits, and recently there has been a renewed interest in analyzing such forms of social behavior in greater depth and as objectively as possible.

Much of the new effort falls within a discipline called sociobiology, which is defined as the systematic study of the biological basis of social behavior in every kind of organism, including man, and is being pieced together with contributions from biology, psychology and anthropology. There is of course nothing new about analyzing social behavior, and even the word “sociobiology” has been around for some years. What is new is the way facts and ideas are being extracted from their traditional matrix of psychology and ethology (the natural history of animal behavior) and reassembled in compliance with the principles of genetics and ecology.

In sociobiology, there is a heavy emphasis on the comparison of societies of different kinds of animals and of man, not so much to draw analogies (these have often been dangerously misleading, as when aggression is compared directly in wolves and in human beings) but to devise and to test theories about the underlying hereditary basis of social behavior. With genetic evolution always in mind, sociobiologists search for the ways in which the myriad forms of social organization adapt particular species to the special opportunities and dangers encountered in their environment.

A case in point is altruism. I doubt if any higher animal, such as a hawk or a baboon, has ever deserVed a Congressional Medal of Honor by the ennobling criteria used in our society. Yet minor altruism does occur frequently, in forms instantly understandable in human terms, and is bestowed not just on offspring but on other members of the species as well. Certain small birds, robins, thrushes and titmice, for example, warn others of the approach of a hawk. They crouch low and emit a distinctive thin, reedy whistle. Although the warning call has acoustic properties that make it difficult to locate in space, to whistle at all seems at the very least unselfish the caller would be wiser not to betray its presence but rather to remain silent and let someone else fall victim.

When a dolphin is harpooned or otherwise seriously injured, the typical response of the remainder of the school is to desert the area immediately. But, sometimes, they crowd around the stricken animal and lift it to the surface, where it is able to continue breathing air. Packs of African wild dogs, the most social of all carnivorous mammals, are organized in part by a remarkable division of labor. During the denning season, some of the adults, usually led by a dominant male, are forced to leave the pups behind in order to hunt for antelopes and other prey. At least one adult, normally the mother of the litter, stays behind as a guard. When the hunters return, they regurgitate pieces of meat to all that stayed home. Even sick and crippled adults are benefited, and as a result they are able to survive longer than would be the case in less generoua societies.

Other than man, chimpanzees may be the most altruistic of all mammals. Ordinarily, chimps are vegetarians, and during their relaxed foraging excursions they feed singly in the uncoordinated manner of other monkeys and apes. But, occasionally, the males hunt monkeys and young baboons for food. During these episodes, the entire mood of the troop shifts toward what can only be characterized as a manlike state. The males stalk and chase their victims in concert they also gang up to repulse any of the victims adult relatives which oppose them. When the hunters have dismembered the prey and are feasting, other chimps approach to beg for morsels. They touch the meat and the faces of the males, whimpering and hooing gently, and hold out their hands—palms up—in supplication. The meat eaters sometimes pull away in refusal or walk off. But, often, they permit the other animal to chew directly on the meat or to pull off small pieces with its hands. On several occasions, champanzees have actually been observed to tear off pieces and drop them into the outstretched hands of others—an act of generosity unknown in other monkeys and apes.

Adoption is also practiced by chimpanzees. Jane Goodall has observed three cases at the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. All involved orphaned infants taken over by adult brothers and sisters. It is of considerable interest, for more theoretical reasons to be discussed shortly that the altruistic behavior was displayed by the closest possible relatives rather than by experienced females with children of their own, females who might have supplied the orphans with milk and more adequate social protection.

In spite of a fair abundance of such examples among vertebrate creatures, it is only in the lower animals and in the social insects particularly, that we encounter altruistic suicide comparable to man's. A large percentage of the members of colonies of ants, bees and wasps are ready to defend their nests with insane charges against intruders. This is the reason that people move with circumspection around honeybee hives and yellowjacket burrows, but can afford to relax near the nests of solitary species such as sweat bees and mud daubers.

The social stingless bees of the tropics swarm over the heads of human beings who venture too close, locking their jaws so tightly onto tufts of hair that their bodies pull loose from their heads when they are combed out. Some of the species pour a burning glandular secretion onto the skin during these sacrificial attacks. In Brazil, they are called cagafogos (“fire defecators”) The great entomologist William Morton Wheeler described an encounter with the “terrible bees,” during which they removed patches of skin from his face, as the worst experience of his life.

Honeybee workers have stings lined with reversed barbs like those on fishhooks. When a bee attacks an intruder at the hive, the sting catches in the skin as the bee moves away, the sting remains embedded, pulling out the entire venom gland and much of the viscera with it. The bee soon dies, but its attack has been more effective than if it withdrew the sting intact. The reason is that the venom gland continues to leak poison into the wound, while a bananalike odor emanating from the base of the sting incites other members of the hive into launching Kamikaze attacks of their own at the same spot. From the point of view of the colony as a whole, the suicide of an individual accomplishes more than it loses. The total worker force consists of 20,000 to 80,000 members, all sisters born from eggs laid by the mother queen. Each bee has a natural life span of only about 50 days, at the end of which it dies of old age. So to give a life is only a little thing, with no genes being spilled in the process.

My favorite example among the social insects is provided by an African termite with the orotund, technical name Globitermes sulfureus. Members of this species soldier caste are quite literally walking bombs. Huge paired glands extend from their heads back through most of their bodies. When they attack ants and other enemies, they eject a yellow glandular secretion through their mouths it congeals in the air and often fatally entangles both the soldiers and their antagonists. The spray appears to be powered by contractions of the muscles in the abdominal wall. Sometimes, the contractions become so violent that the abdomen and gland explode, spraying the defensive fluid in all directions.

Sharing a capacity for extreme sacrifice does not mean that the human mind and the “mind” of an insect (if such exists) work alike. But it does mean that the impulse need not be ruled divine or otherwise transcendental, and we are justified in seeking a more conventional biological explanation. One immediately encounters a basic problem connected with such an explanation: Fallen heroes don't have any more children. If self‐sacrifice results in fewer descendants, the genes, or basic units of heredity, that allow heroes to be created can be expected to disappear gradually from the population. This is the result of the narrow mode of Darwinian natural selection: Because people who are governed by selfish genes prevail over those with altruistic genes, there should be a tendency over many generations for selfish genes to increase in number and for the human population as a whole to become less and less capable of responding in an altruistic

How can altruism persist? In the case of the social insects, there is no doubt at all. Natural selection has been broadened to include a process called kin selection. The self‐sacrificing termite soldier protects the rest of the colony, including the queen and king which are the soldier's parents. As a result, the soldier's more fertile brothers and sisters flourish, and it is they which multiply the al truistic genes that are shared with the soldier by close kinship. One's own genes are multiplied by the greater production of nephews and nieces. It is natural, then, to ask whether the capacity for altruism has also evolved in human beings through kin selection. In other words, do the emotions we feel, which on occasion in exceptional individuals climax in total selfsacrifice, stem ultimately from hereditary units that were implanted by the favoring of relatives during a period of hundreds or thousands of generations? This explanation gains some strength from the circumstance that during most of mankind's history the social unit was the immediate family and a tight network of other close relatives. Such exceptional cohesion, combined with a detailed awareness of kinship made possible by high intelligence, might explain why kin selection has been more forceful in human beings than in monkeys and other mammals.

To anticipate a common objection raised by many social scientists and others, let me grant at once that the intensity and form of altruistic acts are to a large extent culturally determined. Human social evolution is obviously more cultural than genetic. The point is that the underlying emotion, powerfully manifested in virtually all human societies, is what is considered to evolve through genes. This sociobiological hypothesis does not therefore account for differences among societies, but it could explain why human beings differ from other mammals and why, in one narrow aspect, they more closely resemble social insects.

in cases where sociobiological explanations can be tested and proved true, they will, at the very least, provide perspective and a new sense of philosophical ease about human nature. I believe that they will also have an ultimately moderating influence on social tensions. Consider the case of homosexuality. Homophiles are typically re:ected in our society because of a narrow and unfair biological premise made about them: Their sexual preference does not produce children therefore, they cannot be natural. To the extent that this view can be rationalized, it is just Darwinism in the old narrow sense: Homosexuality does not directly replicate genes. But hoMosexuals can replicate genes by kin selection provided they are sufficiently altruistic toward kin.

It is not inconceivable that in the early, hunter‐gatherer period of human evolution, and perhaps even later, homosexuals regularly served as a partly sterile caste, enhancing the lives and reproductive success of their relatives by a more dedicated form of support than would have been possible if they produced children of their own. If such combinations of interrelated heterosexuals and homosexuals regularly left more descendants than similar groups of pure heterosexuals, the capacity for homosexual development would remain prominent in the population as a whole. And it has remained prominent in the great majority of human societies, to the consternation of anthropologists, biologists and others.

Supporting evidence for this new kin‐selection hypothesis does not exist. In fact, it has not even been examined critically. But the fact that it is internally consistent and can be squared with the results of kin selection in other kinds of organisms should give us pause before labeling homosexuality an illness. I might add that if the hypothesis is correct, we can expect homosexuality to decline over many generations. The reason is that the extreme dispersal of family groups in modern industrial societies leaves fewer opportunities for preferred treatment of relatives. The labor of homosexuals is spread more evenly over the population at large, and the narrower form of Darwinian natural selection turns against the duplication of genes favoring this kind of altruism.

A peacemaking role of modern sociobiology also seems likely in the interpretation of aggression, the behavior at the opposite pole from altruism. To cite aggression as a form of social behavior is, in a way, contradictory considered by itself, it is more accurately identified as antisocial behavior. But, when viewed in a social context, it seems to be one of the most important and widespread organizing techniques. Animals use it to stake out their own territories and to establish their rank in the pecking orders. And because members of one group often cooperate for the purpose of directing aggression at competitor groups, altruism and hostility have come to be opposite sides of the same coin.

Konrad Lorenz, in his celebrated book “On Aggression,” argued that human beings share a general instinct for aggressive behavior with animals, and that this instinct must somehow be relieved, if only through competitive sport. Erich Fromm, in “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness,” took the still dimmer view that man's behavior is subject to a unique death instinct that often leads to pathological aggression beyond that encountered in animals. Both of these interpretations are essentially wrong. A close look at aggressive in variety of ani mai societies, many of which have been carefully studied only since the time Lorenz drew his conclusions, shows that aggression occurs in a myriad of forms and is subject to rapid evolution.

We commonly find one species of bird or mammal to be highly territorial, employing elaborate, aggressive displays and attacks, while a second, otherwise similar, species shows little or no territorial behavior. In short, the case for a pervasive aggressive instinct does not exist.

The reason for the lack of a general drive seems quite clear. Most kinds of aggressive behavior are perceived by biologists as particular responses to crowding in the environment. Animals use aggression to gain control over necessities—usually food or shelter—which are in short supply or likely to become short at some time during the life cycle. Many species seldom, if ever, run short of these necessities rather, their numbers are controlled by predators, parasites or emigration. Such animals are characteristically pacific in their behavior toward one another.

Mankind, let me add at once, happens to be one of the aggressive species. But we are far from being the most aggressive. Recent studies of hyenas, lions and langur monkeys, to take three familiar species, have disclosed that under natural conditions these animals engage in lethal fighting, infanticide and even cannibalism at a rate far above that found in human beings. When a count is made of the number of murders committed per thousand individuals per year, human beings are well down the list of aggressive creatures, and I am fairly confident that this would still he the case even if our episodic wars were to he averaged in. Hyena packs even engage in deadly pitched battles that are virtually indistinguishable from primitive human warfare. Here is some action in the Ngorongoro Crater as described by Hans Kruuk of Oxford University.

“The two groups mixed with an uproar of calls, but within seconds the sides parted again and the Mungi hyenas ran away, briefly pursued by the Scratching Rock hyenas, who then returned to the carcass. About a dozen of the Scratching Rock hyenas, though, grabbed one of the Mungi males and bit him wherever they could—especially in the belly, the feet and the ears. The victim was completely covered by his attackers, who proceeded to maul him for about 10 minutes while their clan fellows were eating the wildebeest. The Mungi male was literally pulled apart, and when 1 later studied the injuries more closely, it appeared that his ears were bitten off and so were his feet and testicles, he was paralyzed by a spinal injury, had large gashes in the hind legs and belly, and subcutaneous hemorrhages all over. . . The next morning, I found a hyena eating from the carcass and saw evidence that more had been there about one‐third of the internal organs and muscles had been eaten. Cannibals!“

Alongside ants, which conduct assassinations, skirmishes and pitched battles as routine business, men are all but tranquil pacifists. Ant wars, incidentally, are especially easy to observe during the spring and summer in most towns and cities in the Eastern United States. Look for masses of small blackish brown ants struggling together on sidewalks or lawns. The combatants are members of rival colonies of the common pavement ant, Tetramornn caespitum. Thousands of individuals may be involved, and the battlefield typically occupies several square feet of the grassroots jungle.

Although some aggressive behavior in one form or another is characteristic of virtually all human societies (even the gentle Kung Bushmen until recently had a murder rate comparable to that of Detroit and Houston), I know of no evidence that it constitutes a drive search ing for an outlet. Certainly,, the conduct of animals cannot be used as an argument for the widespread existence of such a drive.

In general, animals display a spectrum of possible actions, ranging from no response at all, through threats and feints, to an all‐out attack: and they select the action that best fits the circumstances of each particular threat. A rhesus monkey, for example, signals a peaceful intention toward another troop member by averting its gaze or approaching with conciliatory lip‐smacking. A low intensity of hostility is conveyed by an alert, level stare. The hard look you receive from a rhesus when you enter a laboratory or the primate building of a zoo is not simple curiosity—it is a threat.

From that point onward, the monkey conveys increasing levels of confidence and readiness to fight by adding new components one by one, or in combination: The mouth opens in an apparent expression of astonishment, the head bobs up and down, explosive ho's! are uttered and the hands slap the ground. By the time the rhesus is performing all of these displays, and perhaps taking little forward lunges as well, it is prepared to fight. The ritualized performance, which up to this point served to demonstrate precisely the mood of the animal, may then give way to a shrieking, rough‐and‐tumble assault in which hands, feet and teeth are used as weapons. Higher levels of aggression are not exclusively directed at other monkeys.

Once, in the field, I had a large male monkey reach the hand‐slapping stage three feet in front of me when I accidentally frightened an infant monkey which may or may not have been a part of the male's family. At that distance, the male looked like a small gorilla. My guide, Professor Stuart Altmann of the University of Chicago, wisely advised me to avert my gaze and to look as much as possible like a subordinate monkey.

Despite the fact that many kinds of animals are capable of a rich, graduated repertory of aggressive actions, and despite the fact that aggression is important in the organization of their societies, it is possible for individuals to go through a normal life, rearing offspring, with nothing more than occasional bouts of playfighting and exchanges of lesser hostile displays. The key is the environment: Frequent intense display and escalated fighting are adaptive responses to certain kinds of social stress which a particular animal may or may not be fortunate enough to avoid during its lifetime. By the same token, we should not be surprised to find a few human cultures, such as the Hopi or the newly discovered Tasaday of Mindanao, in which aggressive interactions arc minimal. In a word, the evidence from comparative studies of animal behavior cannot be used to justify extreme forms of aggression, bloody drama or violent competitive sports practiced by man.

This brings us to the topic which, in my experience, causes the most difficulty in ciscussions of human sociobiology: the relative importance of genetic vs. environmental factors in the shaping of behavioral traits. I am aware that the very notion of genes controlling behavior in human beings is scandalous to some scholars. They are quick to project the following political scenario: Genetic determinism will lead to support for austatus quo and continued social injustice. Seldom is the equally plausible scenario considered: Environmentalism will lead to support for authoritarian mind control and worse injustice. Both sequences are highly unlikely, unless politicians or ideologically committed scientists are allowed to dictate the uses of science. Then anything goes.

That aside, concern over the implications of sociobiology usually proves to he due to a simple misunderstanding about the nature of heredity. Let me try to set the matter straight as briefly but fairly as possible. What the genes prescribe is not necessarily a particular behavior but the capacity to develop certain behaviors and, more than that, the tendency to develop them in various specified environments. Suppose that we could enumerate all conceivable behavior belonging to one category—say, all the possible kinds of aggressive responses — and for convenience label them by letters. In this imaginary example, there might be exactly 23 such responses, which we designate A through W. Human beings do not and cannot manifest all the behaviors perhaps all societies in the world taken together employ A through P. Furthermore, they do not develop each of these with equal facility: there is a strong tendency under most possible conditions of child rearing for behaviors A through G to appear, and consequently H through P are encountered in very few cultures. It is this pattern of possibilities and probabilities that is inherited.

To make such a statement wholly meaningful, we must go on to compare human beings with other species. We note that hamadryas baboons can perhaps develop only F through J, with a strong bias toward F and G, while one kind of termite can show only A and another kind of termite only B. Which behavior a particular human being displays depends on the experience received within his own culture, but the total array of human possibilities, as opposed to baboon or termite possibilities, is inherited. It is the evolution of this pattern which sociobiology attempts to analyze.

We can be more specific about human patterns. It is possible to make a reasonable inference about the most primitive and general human social traits by combining two procedures. First, note is made of the most widespread qualities of hunter‐gatherer societies. Although the behavior of the people is complex and intelligent, the way of life to which their cultures are adapted is primitive. The human species evolved with such an elementary economy for hundreds of thousands of years thus, its innate pattern of social responses can be expected to have been principally shaped by this way of life, The second procedure is to compare the most widespread hunter‐gatherer qualities with similar behavior displayed by the species of alnggurs, colobus, macaques. baboons, chimpanzees, gibbons and other Old World monkeys and apes that. together, comprise man's closest living relatives.

Where the same pattern of traits occurs in man—and in most or all of the primates—we conclude that it has been subject to relatively little evolution. Its possession by hunter‐gatherers indicates (but does not prove) that the pattern was also possessed by man's immediate ancestors the pattern also belongs to the class of behaviors least prone to change even in economically more advanced societies. On the other hand, when the behavior varies a great deal among the primate species, it is less likely to be resistant

The list of basic human patterns that emerges from this screening technique is intriguing: (1) The number of intimate group members is variable but normally 100 or less (2) some amount of aggressive and territorial behavior is basic, but its intensity is graduated and its particular forms cannot be predicted from one culture to another with precision (3) adult males are more aggressive and are dominant over females (4) the societies are to a large extent organized around prolonged maternal care and extended relationships between mothers and children, and (5) play, including at least mild forms of contest and mock‐aggression, is keenly pursued and probably essential to normal development.

We must then add the qualties that are so distinctively ineluctably human that they can be safely classified as genetically based: the overwhelming drive of individuals to develop some form of a true, semantic language, the rigid avoidance of incest by taboo and the weaker but still strong tendency for sexually bonded women and men to divide their labor into specialized tasks.

In hunter‐gatherer societies, men hunt and women stay at home. This strong bias persists in most agricultural and industrial societies and, on that ground alone, appears to have a genetic origin. No solid evidence exists as to when the division of labor appeared in man's ancestors or how resistant to change it might be during the continuing revolution for women's rights. My own guess is that the genetic bias is intense enough to cause a substantial division of labor even in the most free and most egalitarian of future societies.

As shown by research recently summarized in the book “The Psychology of Sex Differences,” by Eleanor Emmons Maccoby and Carol Nagy Jacklin, boys consistently show more mathematical and less verbal ability than girls on the average, and they are more aggressive from the first hours of social play at age 2 to manhood. Thus, even with identical education and equal access to all professions, men are likely to continue to play a disproportionate role in political life, business and science. But that is only a guess and, even of correct, could not be used to argue for anything less than sex‐blind admission and free personal choice.

Certainly, there are no a priori grounds for concluding that the males of a predatory species must be a specialized hunting class. In chimpanzees, males are the hunters which may be suggestive in view of the fact that these apes are by a wide margin our closest living relatives. But, in lions, the females are the providers, typically working in groups with their cubs in tow. The stronger and largely parasitic males hold back from the chase, but rush in to claim first share of the meat when the kill has been made. Still another pattern is followed by wolves and African wild dogs: Adults of both sexes, which are very aggressive, cooperate in the hunt.

The moment has arrived to stress that there is a dangerous trap in sociobiology, one which can be avoided only by constant vigilance. The trap is the naturalistic fallacy of ethics, which uncritically concludes that what is, should be. The “what is” in human nature is to a large extent the heritage of a Pleistocene hunter‐gatherer existence. When any genetic bias is demonstrated, it cannot be used to justify a continuing practice in present and future societies. Since most of us live in a radically new environment of our own making, the pursuit of such a practice would be bad biology and like all bad biology, it would invite disaster. For example, the tendency under certain conditions to conduct warfare against competing groups might well be in our genes, having been advantageous to out Neolithic ancestors, but it could lead to global suicide now. To rear as many healthy children as possible was long the road to security yet with the population of the world brimming over, it is now the way to environmental disaster.

Our primitive old genes will therefore have to carry the load of much more cultural change in the future. To an extent not yet known, we trust—we insist—that human nature can adapt to more encompassing forms of altruism and social justice. Genetic biases can be trespassed, passions averted or redirected, and ethics altered and the human genius for making contracts can continue to be applied to achieve healthier and freer societies. Yet the mind is not infinitely malleable. Human sociobiology should be pursued and its findings weighed as the best means we have of tracing the evolutionary history of the mind. In the difficult journey ahead, during which our ultimate guide must be our deepest and, at present, least understood feelings, surely we cannot afford an ignorance of history■


Limited space for animals - how is that bad? - Biology

Quirinius wasn't governor yet (he "was ruling", not "was governor")

Okay, so what was he ruling?

It's also said to be "the first" census - which would require there to be a later one (the one we have extensive extant records of).

Other than Luke, is there any other source that mentions this "first" census. Also, a census which was for the entire Empire where people had to return to the hometowns of their ancient ancestors?

Also, Herod died in 1BC, not 4BC

Still not 6/7 CE, which was when Quirinius was "ruling".

Nope. The Lukan account doesn't say "son of". It says "of" -- "Jesus, who is of Joseph and of Heli and of . " is the actual meaning here.

Many scholars have maintained that the Lukan narrative is through Mary.

Is this not a genealogy? If this is not a genealogy, then why do you claim that it's "through" Mary? Perhaps because it is a genealogy. And when we look at it, it says "Jesus, who is of Joseph and of Heli. ".

Luke is giving us a genealogy, and lists from Jesus to Joseph and then to Heli. I can't seem to find Mary anywhere. Seems a bit odd that the author would mention Joseph only to go through the mother's lineage, despite not even mentioning her or any other woman in the family tree.

Your paragraph was stolen word for word from Bart Ehrman, you should give credit to your sources.

The fact that it's so obvious goes without saying. We all know that Bart Ehrman has said all of this. Anyone who researches the historical unreliability of the gospels and early Christianity will know this. You and I have studied this, we know this. Most people here have studied this, and will know this. You don't need to quote something if it's so obvious. The only people who wouldn't know are the same people who wouldn't even be on this thread to begin with.

Seriously, who here has not heard of Bart Ehrman? Iɽ be bloody amazed! Bart Ehrman is one of the most famous NT scholars. Anyone with a grain of knowledge about this topic will surely know him and have heard some of his speeches.

You are making the same mistake he did -- the answer is "we don't know and none of the authors assert they're giving an exhaustive list". They highlight who they highlight and nobody says how many others there are.

Then why not say that with what happened? Instead of believing that Jesus physically rose from the dead, why not just shrug your shoulders and say you don't know? If you're okay with saying that for the contradictory details the gospels give, surely you can say the same thing with their extraordinary claims? We don't know.

Syria - but without the title of governor

Other than Luke, is there any other source that mentions this "first" census.

None that I'm aware of. I'm sure you aware of how much has been lost though, right?

Still not 6/7 CE, which was when Quirinius was "ruling".

No, that's when he "was governor". Those are different things.

Luke is giving us a genealogy, and lists from Jesus to Joseph and then to Heli.

No, that's again not what it was. That's what "son of" would mean. You're not reaching the level of the debate with this response.

Seems a bit odd that the author would mention Joseph only to go through the mother's lineage, despite not even mentioning her or any other woman in the family tree.

Do you not see that you answered your own question? Luke didn't list any women in his geneology. It's very clear that Luke had both Matthew and Mark, the idea that he just completely went rogue on the genealogy is illogical. That Luke would have expected his reader to have the same Matthew (which he agrees with basically everywhere else) that he had is easy enough to conclude - and from there that Luke had a different purpose.

Even still, it's perfectly consistent with Mosaic law to go Joseph, Heli (Mary's father) up through her line -- the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 26, 27, 36) says that if a man has a daughter but no son his inheritance/line will pass through her (and she has to marry someone from her tribe, hence the overlap in genealogies).

The fact that it's so obvious goes without saying. We all know that Bart Ehrman has said all of this.

So plagiarism is cool if it's this topic, or if it's Ehrman? Not sure what your position is here, could you clarify?

Then why not say that with what happened?

Because your application of standards is anachronistic. This simply is not how the authors would expect to be read.

Syria - but without the title of governor

None that I'm aware of. I'm sure you aware of how much has been lost though, right?

It wasn't an insignificant claim. Luke asserted that Augustus held a census for the entire Empire, and a census where people had to travel back to the hometowns of their ancient ancestors. If that really happened, there should be a ton of evidence. Yes, lots of things get lost and destroyed over time. But weɽ still expect something for such a significant event.

Yet we don't find anything. No mention whatsoever.

No, that's when he "was governor". Those are different things.

So governors don't rule? Seems like special pleading to me.

No, that's again not what it was. That's what "son of" would mean. You're not reaching the level of the debate with this response.

I'm not reaching the level of debate with this response? How specific can Luke get with his genealogy? You're claiming that it's from Mary's lineage. Yet nowhere, does Luke mention her. Who Luke does mention, is Joseph. And the father of Joseph in his genealogy, is different to Matthew's genealogy.

It's very clear that Luke had both Matthew and Mark, the idea that he just completely went rogue on the genealogy is illogical.

Where does Luke say that? I say that Luke saw Heli as the father of Joseph, because he said that.

So plagiarism is cool if it's this topic, or if it's Ehrman? Not sure what your position is here, could you clarify?

Do I need to cite scientific sources to prove that the grass is green or that the sky is blue? Do I need to cite academic sources for things people in general know? No, because it's common knowledge. Now for people like us who study the NT, weɽ inevitably come across scholars, well-known ones like Bart Ehrman. I'm sure you're aware of this, so I don't understand what you're trying to get at?

Because your application of standards is anachronistic. This simply is not how the authors would expect to be read.

So when Luke's genealogy is meant to be about Mary's lineage, he has to write about Joseph? It doesn't make sense. I'm taking Luke's work at face value instead of overcomplicating things to avoid the obvious conclusion.

One is an official title, for which we have pretty firm dates. the other is not an official title and could refer to any sort of temporary post.

So governors don't rule? Seems like special pleading to me.

Then you don't know what that term means.

I'm not reaching the level of debate with this response? How specific can Luke get with his genealogy? You're claiming that it's from Mary's lineage. Yet nowhere, does Luke mention her. Who Luke does mention, is Joseph. And the father of Joseph in his genealogy, is different to Matthew's genealogy.
Where does Luke say that? I say that Luke saw Heli as the father of Joseph, because he said that.

Nor are you here, because you've already been corrected on this point -- Luke does not claim that Heli is Joseph's father, he claims that Jesus is "of Heli". This is an inexcusable error on your part at this point.

Do I need to cite scientific sources to prove that the grass is green or that the sky is blue?

No, but you are literally stealing content from someone, word for word plagiarism. There's a difference between learning from someone and using their content to inform your writings and straight up theft. You crossed it here.

FAQ 2: Does the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus disprove Annihilationism and an Unconscious Intermediate State?

Luke 16 doesn't address hell proper at all.

"Hades" is how The Hebrew "Sheol" is rendered in the LXX (example) and in the NT.

The KJV translators really botched this one, because Hades is not hell. Hades is in fact thrown into Hell in Revelation 20:14.

So, what is Hades/Sheol then?

It is simply "the place of the dead" or where the dead go when they die, awaiting final judgement. I know this sounds like purgatory so far, but it isn't that. There are 2 "chambers" to Sheol -- Abraham's bosom where the righteous await their final judgement, and the "bad" part where the proverbial rich man went.

The punishment there is not "redemptive" in any way shape or form and does nor prepare anyone for heaven.

So Did Adam and Eve mess up God's plan by disobeying or was them disobeying part of his plan? Did he change his plan?

You seemed to assert that "a holy God wouldn't create someone to specifically sin against him". Did I misunderstand you?

Absolutely! God has never determined the sinful choices of anyone, and he did not create someone specifically for the purpose of sinning against him. I am assuming that you are going to Judas after this? Perhaps I shouldn't assume. Christ speaks of knowing that Judas will sin, and God uses Judas' sin to bring about the greatest act of love in the history of mankind. But what texts say that Judas was created for the purpose of sinning?

Give me a Biblical case that you can be one and not the other.

Paul makes the distinction in Ephesians 1:7. The choice is for the faithful to be holy and blameless and adopted, but the redemption is "through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace". He is making a distinction between redemption and adoption. Nothing in Paul's language says he chose who would be redeemed.

We have no Biblical basis whatsoever to establish Adam and Eve's salvific state before the fall

Of course we do. They weren't saved. There was nothing to save them from. There was no salvific state before the fall, there was only union with God. The whole point of Romans 5 is that the consequence of their unfaithfulness was separation from God. The result of redemption is restoring the state of man to what it was with Adam and Eve, reconciliation and union with God. Adam and Eve were the ideal, and we are being restored to that ideal because Christ has redeemed us. Words have meanings. Redemption is used all through out the old testament as a means of restoration, not the restoration itself. It is the ransom, the propitiation, the salvation, but that is just the means by which union "in Christ" happens.

even granting them being "In Christ", youɽ still have to demonstrate them being part of "us", which I do not think the text could sustain

Paul is the one who uses "us" as a descriptor of the Faithful. Not me. If we can agree that Adam and Eve had faith in God pre-fall, then they would be faithful. If you can't agree with that, then we are at an impasse, though I don't see why it would be hard to believe that the fact that Adam and Eve lived in the place where God's presence on earth (his natural temple) walked and say they weren't faithful/in union/in Christ/with God.

Absolutely! God . did not create someone specifically for the purpose of sinning against him.

Romans 9:19-25 says He does -- 21 Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use? 22 But what if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction?

I am assuming that you are going to Judas after this? Perhaps I shouldn't assume. Christ speaks of knowing that Judas will sin, and God uses Judas' sin to bring about the greatest act of love in the history of mankind. But what texts say that Judas was created for the purpose of sinning?

I wasn't going to, but sure.

Acts 1:16 “Brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit foretold through David concerning Judas—who became the guide for those who arrested Jesus— .
22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know— 23 this man [Jesus], who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles.

John 6:70 Jesus replied, “Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve, and yet one of you is the devil?” 71 (Now he said this about Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for Judas, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.)

Paul makes the distinction in Ephesians 1:7.

Quite the opposite, Paul is making no distinction here. In Him "we have", not "also were given separately".

Sorry, but you're going to have to do far better than an unsubstantiated appeal to a verse.

Of course we do. They weren't saved. There was nothing to save them from. There was no salvific state before the fall

This is more or less my stance, right?

The result of redemption is restoring the state of man to what it was with Adam and Eve, reconciliation and union with God.

But more and greater. Yes, a restoration of innocence, but more than their original state -- you must believe this btw unless you think you can lose salvation in heaven.

Ultimately, I think you're conflating "with the Son" with "in Christ" without justification or valid reasoning.

Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use? 22 But what if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction?

Again, you are going to a different verse that has nothing to do with the topic at hand as if it proves your point. Romans 9 is not about an election/choice to salvation and election to damnation. Romans 9 is about election/choice to service even though the vessel is prepared for destruction as a result of their choice. You have to read that clay pots analogy within the context of all the other times the clay pots analogy is read in Isaiah, 2 Timothy, Jeremiah etc. You using a verse to prove your point while I fundamentally disagree with the verse as you interpret it, does not prove your point. You are wrong about Romans 9, and you are wrong about Eph 1. I can discuss Romans 9 with you, but that would be changing the subject. It has nothing to do with Eph 1.

Your citation of Acts 1 does not prove your point that Judas, or anyone for that matter, was created with the purpose of sinning. Acts 1 speaks of the foreknowledge of God that he knew Judas would sin and prophesied it through David. That is not the same as creating Judas with the express purpose of causing him to sin. The quote from John 6:70 does the same thing. It is the foreknowledge of Christ being shown here that Judas will sin, not the determination of Christ that Judas must sin. Acts 1:22-23 is talking about God determining to use the sinful choices of men, not God determining that men will sin. There is a massive difference between God knowing that men would crucify Christ, and then determining to place Christ there at that time and place with those people to predestine the greatest act of Love and actually predestining that those men would be created to sin. Peter talks of the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God which brought about the event. He does NOT talk about God predetermining the sinful choices of men in order to bring the plan about. This is actually what Romans 9 is talking about. God can choose to use whatever vessel he wants whether or not that vessel wants to be used for whatever purposes he wants to use them. If the vessel chooses to be a vessel of destruction (Jeremiah 18:1-10) then God can choose to use it to serve his purposes by bringing a blessing to all nations even though it is a vessel that is prepared for destruction. Nothing in this verse teaches that God has created these men to sin.

On the other hand, we have verses like James 1 which tell us that God doesn't even tempt men to sin. Why would he create men purposed to sin if he doesn't even tempt them? Or verses like 1 John 2:16 which say that sin does not come from the Father. How do you square these verses with the idea that God has created men to sin?

Sorry, but you're going to have to do far better than an unsubstantiated appeal to a verse.

Did you just make an unsubstantiated rejection of my interpretation?

Of course we do. They weren't saved. There was nothing to save them from. There was no salvific state before the fall

This is more or less my stance, right?

Not as I understand it. You seem to be saying that people must be redeemed to be in Christ. Without redemption there is no "in". If Adam and Eve had done no wrong, they couldn't be redeemed. So there is no salvific state. I am saying that redemption is different from union with Christ, and that Adam and Eve were in union with Christ without redemption because there was nothing to redeem them from.


Limited space for animals - how is that bad? - Biology

After watching tonight's episode of Eureka * I realized that I had planned to post about the episode "What About Bob?", which was one of the show's few biology-based episodes. The premise of the episode was pretty straightforward: one of the scientists - Bob - living in the enormous sealed biosphere under Global Dynamics has vanished, and Sheriff Carter has to enter the sealed ecosystem to figure out what happened to him.

In an interview with Monsters and Critics at the end of July, Eureka writer and producer Jaime Paglia notes that there was a personal inspiration for the biosphere plot line:

I think you might remember the Biosphere 2 project that was out there in Arizona and he was - my dad's a scientist, a medical doctor. And he was one of the primary consultants on that. So we have an episode that's about what does a biosphere in Eureka look like and what happens if some you have a missing persons case inside of the closed biosphere.

The system apparently suffered from unexpected fluctuations in carbon dioxide and oxygen levels during its first (and only complete) mission. There apparently was much personal conflict within the project, exacerbated by low oxygen levels and a calorie restricted diet.

I thought that the biosphere element of "What About Bob?" was pretty nifty. Sure, it's implausible that such a structure could be created underground (and that they would allow someone from outside to enter, even with a very thorough scrubbing) but it's well within the norms of the fantasy science of the show. And they got the interpersonal conflict bit right. The problem I had with the episode was with explanation of what happened to poor Bob.

You see, Bob was working on a genetic engineering project that unfortunately went wrong and ended up turning him into a sort of snake man. At EUREKA unscripted the writers explain their inspiration:

So Bob's a monster-of-the-week. Unlike The Lizard, he didn't ingest a serum developed from reptile DNA to stimulate limb regrowth, and unlike the scientist in The Fly, he didn't accidentally become melded with a fly in a tragic teleporter accident. Instead, he's turning into a snake as an unexpected side effect of "mutagenic wavelengths" of light that alter the biosystem's water supply.

That wouldn't have bugged me (much) if they hadn't turned to awful Star Trek science for the "technical" explanation. I'm thinking specifically of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Genesis", where, by a very unlikely series of events, a disease emerges that activates "dormant genes" and "latent introns". The result is that the crew of the Enterprise "de-evolves" into other animals: Lieutenant Barclay becomes a spider, Worf turns into a reptile, and Captain Picard into a lemur. The whole thing makes no sense at all from a biological perspective. Humans don't have a bunch of "reptile" genes that became "dormant" during evolution. Instead, many evolutionary changes are likely due to differences in gene expression during embryonic development (see "What is Evo-Devo?" and "Regulating Evolution: How Gene Switches Make Life"). While babies are occasionally born with atavistic anatomical characteristics, such as tails, that doesn't mean they have turned into monkeys.

But let's say genes could be activated in a pattern more reminiscent of our ancestral forms. Doing so in an adult wouldn't change a human into another animal - although it might cause a tumor. And even if it were possible to "de-evolve", humans wouldn't turn into spiders or snakes, because those animals are not our ancestors. Basically, the idea of "de-evolution into other animals" is really bad biology - and that's unfortunately the explanation for Bob's reptilian condition. As mathematician and all-around-science-guy Nathan Stark explains, it's "evolution in reverse" caused by the activation of his "dormant reptile DNA" that caused his change into a snake-man. I would have liked it better if Bob had been hit with a super form of Ichthiosis vulgaris, as suggested by Allison Blake, or maybe a mutated bioengineered retrovirus. At least those would have been a bit plausible.**

Watch the Eureka episode "What About Bob?" at Hulu.com.

* Note to Eureka 's producers: tonight's episode had way too much advertising of Degree super-duper antiperspirant for men. When the ads came up - again - during the second commercial break, we almost changed the channel. And next week I'll probably tape it so I can fast-forward through the ads. It's not like I can miss the product placement during the show, anyway.

** The physics on Eureka is probably just as terrible as the biology, but I just don't care about that as much.


News tagged with journal of animal science

For a new study in the Journal of Animal Science, researchers evaluated how different levels of selenium affect the immune system of adult horses. According to the researchers, the effects of selenium supplementation on the .

Spicing up your fish fillets with science

The health benefits of consuming omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as EPA and DHA are well established. The primary sources of these fatty acids in the human diet are through fish and seafood. Researchers .

Researchers re-evaluate swine nutrition

For a new study in the Journal of Animal Science, researchers evaluated how different concentrations of lipids affect growth performance in weaned pigs. The researchers also studied how different sources of lipids affect .

Rubber slat mats could improve animal well-being

New research shows that rubber slat mats could improve swine health. In a new study in the Journal of Animal Science, researchers in Europe studied how different types of flooring affects claw and limb lesions, locomotion .

Increased selenium dosage boosts growth and immunity in lambs

(Phys.org) —Sheep given supplements of organic selenium above United States government recommendations showed improved growth, weight and immunity, according to new research at Oregon State University.

A bad biology grade sticks around

Don't let low grades haunt your students. A new study in the Journal of Animal Science shows that performance in foundational biology courses is a strong predictor of performance in high-level animal science courses.

Saturated fats do not yield better bacon

A recent paper published in the Journal of Animal Science suggests producers may want to adjust pig diets when including distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS). Some producers believe that feeding pigs saturated fats .

Chickens with bigger gizzards are more efficient

According to animal scientists, farmers could further protect the environment by breeding chickens with larger digestive organs. This research, published in the February issue of the Journal of Animal Science, could solve .

Molecular techniques are man's new best friend in pet obesity research

According to the World Health Organization, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. And it's not just humans who are packing on the pounds. Our furry companions are plagued by an obesity epidemic of their .

Symposium highlights epigenetic effects of milk

It seems the ads were right. A milk mustache is a good thing to have. Animal and dairy scientists have discovered that drinking milk at an early age can help mammals throughout their lives.


A Quasi-Drake Equation

He ends up with a quasi-Drake equation of five unknown probabilities for the probability of OOL. One of them is the number of nucleotides in his ocean. He plugs in a number like 10^(25) by assuming they are delivered by carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. Now since these same CI meteorites have fossilized cyanobacteria on them, the whole calculation should be finished — life spontaneously appears. But instead, he assumes the fossils don’t exist, but the nucleotides do, being made in the Great Cosmic Abiotic Nucleotide Factory in Outer Space. Just for the record, that GCANFOS also makes only chiral amino acids and chiral nucleotides using the same deep magic. I’m going to give that a fourth tooth fairy.

He goes back to the lover’s paradox of twins finding each other in the vast ocean, and decides that it is equivalent to making an RNA strand twice as long. I didn’t follow the logic, but then he’s not paying any attention to the chemistry either. So he raises his minimum RNA length from 80-200 bases long. That’s now 10^48 — 10^120 permutations, but at least it no longer penalizes the quasi-Drake equation for adding more volume, or penalizes the diffusion-limited growth length. Once again, I find this a somewhat dishonorable way to solve the lover’s paradox, but I’ll let this one be a part of tooth fairy number two.

After grinding through this calculation with these most favorable of odds for the final step of RNA-world, he still is short some 78 orders of magnitude. Putting that into perspective, the visible universe has 10^80 equivalent H-atoms, so this is like finding a single silver atom in the entire universe. This causes him to write the only reasonable sentence in the whole paper:

If we consider only the conservative abiotic polymerization, i.e., statistically adding monomers, the probability of abiogenesis may be extremely low on a terrestrial planet.

Which he follows with what is perhaps the least reasonable sentence in the paper:

This case is not in contradiction with our existence on Earth, because we would find ourselves on a planet where abiogenesis happened.


Magpies 'feel grief and hold funerals'

Magpies feel grief and even hold funeral-type gatherings for their fallen friends and lay grass "wreaths" beside their bodies, an animal behaviour expert has claimed.

Dr Bekoff, of the University of Colorado, said these rituals prove that magpies, usually seen as an aggressive predator, also have a compassionate side.

The discovery raises the debate about whether emotions are solely a human trait or whether they can be found in all animals.

Previous studies have suggested that gorillas also mourn their dead while rats have empathy and cats form friendships.

Dr Bekoff said he studied four magpies alongside a magpie corpse and recorded their behaviour.

"One approached the corpse, gently pecked at it, just as an elephant would nose the carcase of another elephant, and stepped back. Another magpie did the same thing, " he said.

"Next, one of the magpies flew off, brought back some grass and laid it by the corpse. Another magpie did the same. Then all four stood vigil for a few seconds and one by one flew off."

After publishing an account of the funeral he received emails from people who had seen the same ritual in magpies, ravens and crows.

"We can't know what they were actually thinking or feeling, but reading their action there's no reason not to believe these birds were saying a magpie farewell to their friend," he wrote in the journal Emotion, Space and Society.

Those who see emotions in animals have been accused of anthropomorphism – the attribution of human characteristics to animals.

However, Dr Bekoff said emotions evolved in humans and animals because they improve the chances of survival.

"It's bad biology to argue against the existence of animal emotions," he said.

He also claims to have seen emotions in elephants. While watching a herd in Kenya he noticed an injured cow elephant who was only able to walk slowly.

"Despite her disability the rest of the herd walked for a while, stopped to look around and then waited for her to catch up.

"The only obvious conclusion we could see is the other elephants cared and so they adjusted their behaviour," said Dr Bekoff.


Watch the video: Νέο νομοσχέδιο για τα αδέσποτα ζώα και τα ζώα συντροφιάς (August 2022).