Camouflage: dark

One of the most effective forms of camouflage for many terrains and backgrounds is simply dark. Dark brown or black or dark grey just blend into shadows. I’ve seen moose, from a distance, appear to vanish in a few strides; and I’ve heard one munching vegetation but I couldn’t see it, because only its chocolate-brown head was showing above water. Find the cat:

Funny Pictures

more cat pictures

World Science Festival in New York

World Science Festival logo, 2008 in New YorkThe World Science Festival is being held in New York May 29 – June 1. The theme is A Universe of Science.

The goal of this conference is to communicate about science, stimulate interest, and help science writers to demystify science to the general public.

Worlds are colliding: I got a note about this conference from the Society for Technical Communication (STC)logo, Society for Technical Communication, STC because I’m in the Science SIG; and members of Scienceblogs are going to speak at the conference. I notice a philosopher of science, as well: Daniel Dennett will be there. Science writers Carl Zimmer and Eric Haseltine will be there. What about you?

Also look at “World Science Festival Venues.”

Michigan Basin from space

Lake Michigan from space

Geologist Harold Asmis has dug up a beautiful image of the Michigan Basin from space. And he mentions something I didn’t know: the reason for the basin is myterious. I have a low-resolution image here. Go check out the big picture at “Modis image of Great Lakes.”

Books: The Whole Hog by Lyall Watson

cover, The Whole Hog by Lyall WatsonI just finished reading this most enjoyable book, The Whole Hog by Lyall Watson, all about superfamily Suoidea: pigs (family Suidae) and peccaries (family Dicotylidae), but not hippos.

The book describes the domestication, species, and subspecies of pigs, the story of pigs and explorers, and the sensorium and intelligence of pigs. Watson is right: pigs are inexplicably overlooked when we think about domesication, culture, and animal intelligence. Except as stand-ins for humans in medical research, they are little studied.

Watson makes a good case for them more-or-less domesticating themselves, as they are sociable omnivores. Signs of pig domestication have been found at least 8,000 years ago. But do we hear about that great advance, the domestication of the pig? We do not. We hear about dogs, cattle, horses, and cats. He describes his childhood pet, a fostered baby warthog, that accompanied him and his guardian on walks through the African bush.

There’s a tiny population of Himalayan pigs which average about ten pounds—perhaps a better pet than the 80-pound Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. They are unique—and threatened—but is anyone their champion? He tells of the discovery of a remnant population of Giant Peccaries in Yucatan in the 1970s. Until those were discovered, we believed that they had gone extinct 10,000 years ago.

Find a copy if you can.

Superfamily Suoidea. comprises two familes.

Family Suidae:

  • Subfamily: Suinae – “true” pigs
    • Genus: Sus (pigs)
      • Sus scrofa (domestic pig) – many subspecies
    • Genus: Potamochoerus (river hogs)
      • P. larvatus, bushpig
      • P. porcus, Red River hog
    • Genus: Hylochoerus (forest hogs)
      • H. meinertzhageni – forest hog, four subspecies
  • Subfamily: Phacochoerinae – warthogs
    • Genus: Phacochoerus
      • P. aethiopicus, desert warthog
      • P. africanus, common warthog
    • Subfamily: Babirousinae – babirusa
      • Genus: Babyrousa
          • B. babyrussa
          • Family: Dicotylidae
            • Genus: Tayassu (peccaries)
            • Genus: Catagonus (giant peccaries)
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