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Tag Archives: nature

198. Bee-brained

You make decisions. How good you are at doing so is irrelevant, what matters is that you make them. You make them in the same way as a bee. But how is that?

Decision making is a, decidedly complex process but it is vital. Also the actual process is near identical for anything with a decent brain. Decision making works like a debate. Neurons which zip around the brain collecting information and forming plans. Then neurons form groups and you ‘think.’ If you have ever been in two minds when making a decision, that is because it is exactly what happens.

Neurons find those sharing the same idea and send positive affirming signals. Which is nice of them. Then they find those who disagree with them and send inhibiting signals. The equivalent of you trying to win an argument by telling the opposition to shut up. As time passes the numbers supporting each decision vary, heading towards a single answer. When a large enough consensus of opinion is reached then hooray! You have just made a decision.

As was previously mentioned this is a technique that we use because it works, in fact every creature with a complex brain uses it. Bees do not have complex brains, they are fuzzy little colourful balls that fly into flowers and build hexagons; yet they use the same technique. No bee is smart enough to use the technique, so they use many bees, and form a hive mind. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Articles, Trivia

 

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137. Goat Eyes

Unlike most creatures with eyes, goats have horizontal rectangular pupils in their eyes. This wider pupil gives them the advantage of having a much wider periphery and it lets them see the edges of their vision in full 3D, a big advantage. Also it mean goats can nearly see behind themselves thanks to the evolutionary advantage.

You may of course believe that horizontal slit pupils are rare, but they are more common than you may think. They are more common with animals which often fall prey to other animals such as cows and many species of bird. We just notice them more in goats because they have paler eyes.

Also, wether is the term for a castrated male goat; if you need to know. To conclude, if you think you are sneaking up behind a goat, you are not. They can see you, and it’s all because of those odd eyes. So stop sneaking up on goats. I won’t tell you twice.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2011 in Trivia

 

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78. Terrible Tibbles

FACT: Cats are scary creatures.

In 1894, Lyall, a lighthouse keeper was sent to Stephens Island, a small island (2.6 km²) just south of New Zealand. With Lyall went Tibbles, whom I shall hence forth refer to as Tibbles the Destroyer.

Now, Tibbles the Destroyer started out small and standard, he roamed around slowly and became accustomed,then he made the small island his hunting ground and began a short reign of terror, catching for his master a great deal of local fauna, especially a peculiar bird which his master had never seen before.

After seeing a handful of the birds Lyall shared the news with his good friend, a Mr Henry Tavers. News spread and by the time that the Destoryerhad ensnared eleven more birds the news came to the attention of Sir Walter Buller, New Zealand’s Ornithological expert. After examining the pristine corpses (The Destoyer only kills, he never consumes), he confirmed the birds were a totally new species and were indeed members of the wren family. He sent news off to the British Ornithological Institute and prepared.

More research would have been carried out, were it not for the continued efforts on the part of the aforementioned cat tyrant.

For you see, the wren was special in that it was a flightless bird, in fact one of only three flightless songbirds we have ever known of in the whole of history, they were an easy catch and were crushed under the tyrannic reign of Tibbles. By the end of 1894, the year in which Tibbles had arrived, they were extinct. Within one year Tibble destroyed a species.

So effective was his eradication that the Christchurch report noted that:

“…there is very good reason to believe that the bird is no longer to be found on this islands, as it is not known to exist anywhere else, it has apparently become quite extinct. This is probably a record performance in the way of extermination.”

Now you know of Tibbles the Destroyer and the flightless birds who subsequently became, ‘quite extinct’.

To this very day, Tibbles is the only individual of any species to have single-handedly destroyed a whole species.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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63. World Wide Brain

FACT: You are probably smarter than you think, you are certainly doing more than you think. You are controlling your own breathing, heart rate, temperature, internal humidity, digestion and so on…

What you may not know is how large this is. In 2007, the combined power of every general computer in the world was capable of performing 6.4 × 1018 actions every second. That’s around six trillion four hundred million billion actions. A not unimpressive number.

Hear that number again… six trillion four hundred million billion. That is an unimaginably large number, yet you are doing that right now. Your brain, assuming you are human of course, performs around that number of actions every second. Compared to computers you are a bona fide genius.Now remember, you are smarter than millions of computers combined. Now think that there are six billion humans.

Computers are still in their infancy, and whilst they seem impressive; nature is far more grand.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Trivia

 

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