Comment on Rats as Humanity’s Twin by Connor

I think you hit on a lot of interesting topics in your post. The ties between rats and humanity are really incredible when you actually sit down and think about it. I think the idea of rats exploitation of humans is particularly interesting. I cannot come up with any other animal that takes advantage of humans to the extent of the rat. Their means of survival by using humans is truly phenomenal. I wonder if this is one of the reasons that have led to the extreme hate of rats by humans. We are certainly a competitive species and I could see how being bested by some little creature like the rat could rub humans the wrong way. I look forward to discussing this and the rest of your questions in class tomorrow.

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Comment on Rats, us, and my weak attempt at comedy. by Connor

As usual you have another great post this week. I really liked the similarity you drew between rats and humans in terms of having good hygiene yet living in dirty places. We really do have a lot in common with rats whether we would like to admit it or not. In regards to your comments on the ethics of using animals in research, I am inclined to agree with you. I think the benefits of animal research outweigh the loss of the lives of many rats and mice even if it is incredibly unfair to those animals. I do have a much harder time justifying the mistreatment and death of animals for cosmetic and psychological purposes; however, I don’t think these purposes should be bunched into the same category as medical research. I’m sure we will have a lot of discussion on the topic tomorrow in class so I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say then.

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Comment on Dog Sweaters and the Bee by Connor

Week after week your posts really get me thinking. I had a similar thought in regards to animals and clothing and I’m glad I wasn’t alone in having it. If an animal spends its life being babied and dressed up and for all intensive purposes, does it become different at heart than its wolf ancestors? I know we don’t really know a whole lot about animal emotion and tend to just assign human emotions to certain noises or actions that a dog makes or does, but is it possible that they really do feel shame in one of those awful sweaters? Or maybe they feel dominant because they have something that others dogs don’t. I really have no idea but it is interesting to me that we often have the biggest problem with feral animals and not as much with wild animals and I wonder if this could be due to all of the special treatment our pets get. Do they get a feeling of entitlement or superiority from living with us that causes them to behave differently than they normally would in the wild?

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Comment on Darwin: A Forward Dude by Connor

First off I agree with you that reading Darwin was much less of a struggle than reading some other scientific book or paper from the 1800′s. In regards to you post, domestication does seem to provide a greater variety in species on the surface, but when you look at the big picture, nature has taken one, or maybe a couple, small little single celled organisms, and turned it/them into everything from a giraffe to an ant to a shark. That seems to be a lot greater diversity to me than what we have created with domestication. Most of the animals that we domesticate and alter aren’t even considered new species, just sub species. Take the dog for example, even with all of the modifications we have done, the dog is still genetically a wolf. Now I know that nature has a little bit longer to work (millions and millions of years to be exact), but I think it still might be a bit early to decide whether it is us or nature that has more ability in regards to speciation. I do agree that we are able to make changes much faster than nature does, but are these changes really as unique as those found in nature? This could probably be debated all day but I think that is what makes it a really interesting topic.

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Comment on Terrestrial and Celestial by Connor

There are a lot of really interesting ideas in this post. I read through it a few times, and each time I felt like I had completely different ideas popping up in my mind. I completely agree that in Western Civilization, we have slowly tried to separate ourselves from animals and nature; however, as Dr. Nelson pointed out in her comment, there are many examples of cultures that don’t exhibit this trait. Why is this? Why as westerners do we seek to completely remove ourselves from our animalistic pasts, while other cultures revolve around the idea that we should be one with nature. And additionally, if we are seeking to separate ourselves from animals, then why do we try to stop things like bullfighting? Do we feel that we are superior to the animal and have a responsibility to look out for its best interests, or is there some sort of subconscious feeling that the bull has feelings and a family and so on and really isn’t so different from us? I don’t really have any answers, your post just really created a lot of questions for me. I look forward to discussing them on Tuesday.

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Comment on Bit wear and Prehistory by Connor

I completely agree with what you have commented on in this post.It really is awesome how much we can determine from things as simple as bones and seeds. As more and more methods of discovering a date for horse domestication were presented by Anthony, I couldn’t help but wonder how many unique tests and examinations can be done to determine the history of not only the horse, but any animal. If there are this many ways to study horse history, one could assume that most other animals probably have features that become distinguishable when they come into contact with humans or other disruptive forces. I mentioned in my post that I really appreciate all of the work that anthropologists due because much of the time, they will never truly know the answers to their questions even after a lifetime of work. But the more I think about all the techniques that could be used to obtain information about the past, the more it seems like eventually you must have put together so many different pieces of data that the puzzle is complete!

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Comment on Real Food: goat milk and cheese by Connor

I think you have a lot of interesting questions and ideas presented in this post and I look forward to discussing them further tomorrow in class. In response to the whole debate about raw milk versus pasteurized milk, I have always stuck to pasteurized milk to be safe. I know that there are benefits to drinking raw milk in regards to beneficial enzymes and bacteria as well as nutrients and minerals; however, raw milk, especially from other animals, is a perfect medium for all bacteria to grow, good and bad. There are a variety of bacteria that grow in animals that are not harmful to them, but when ingested by humans can be deadly. Additionally, the conditions around milking stations are hot beds for parasites and bacteria to grow and if they work their way into the milk, the only way to prevent them from getting into our bodies is through pasteurization. I am probably swayed in the direction because in the third grade I had to dress up and pretend to be a famous person for an day and I was Louis Pasteur, the inventor of pasteurization. Haha I do think that raw milk can be safe to some extent if it is handled carefully and consumed locally before bacteria have time to develop, but in my opinion you are always taking a risk when drinking raw milk from a dairy animal.

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Comment on Pastoralized Cheese (Get it?) by Connor

I was intrigued by the meningeal worm fiasco in this book as well. There are many examples in nature of animals developing resistance to parasitic invaders overtime through mutations and evolution. Often times it can be due to a sort of quarantining of the parasite in portions of the body that prevent it from harming vital organs or nerves. It appears that the white tailed deer has created a pathway that safely transfers the parasite through its digestive system and into a pocket of its nervous system where it can grow and reproduce without harm to the deer. When it has finished its development the deer simply passes the worm allowing it to start another life cycle. The worm does not want to harm its host as it requires the conditions provided in a healthy deer central nervous system to survive, so it has evolved over time as well to cause minimal damage to its host. The issue that arises when the worm is eaten by an animal other than a deer is that the different host, for example the goat, does not have the pathway developed to move the worm safely through its body. As a result the worms get lost in the body and just end up floating around until they get stuck in the hosts spinal cord and brain where there development results in inflammation that leads to paralysis and death if left untreated. The worm population exponentially grows in the foreign host because it never get expelled as they do in the deer due to the pathway that has developed. So essentially the meningeal worm and the deer have developed a sort of commensalism over years of evolution together, and other animals have not which results in a parasitic relationship instead. There may be more to this parasite than what I have mentioned her but this is at least a little more specific than what Kessler says in the book.

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Comment on A little bit about dogs and us, but mostly us. by Connor

I think that your comments on the diseases like cancer and diabetes are very interesting. I definitely agree that we are outpacing evolution with our scientific breakthroughs and that each new generation is getting one step closer to developing natural mechanisms to combat the diseases of today, namely diabetes and cancer. However, I feel that diseases like these are a response to overpopulation to some extent. I agree with you that it isn’t really a natural process, whereby our genes can sense overpopulation and are developing cancers to deal with the problem, but I think that overpopulation may be having indirect effects on disease. I think that the sheer number of people that are consuming resources has increased so dramatically that is has forced us to consume and make use of things that have the potential to cause diseases like cancer, or heart attacks, or diabetes. So, in this sense, I think these diseases could be tied back to overpopulation, but in reality it is likely due to a variety of sources. I think that sort of makes sense but if not we can talk about it more on Tuesday.

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