biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow toothpick digestive system

Don’t Swallow a Toothpick

Your digestive system won’t like it

At conferences especially during tea or coffee breaks snacks are often provided and last year at a major international conference in Wuhan (China) that I attended it was no different. During the break, conference members gather around the tables on which the snacks are displayed and discuss the latest presentations, refresh memories or exchange ideas and some news. Every now and then one grabs a biscuit or a piece of fruit, something on the table, and shoves it into one’s mouth. On the first day of the conference that I refer to, cut pieces of pineapple were available, but there were no toothpicks stuck into them and therefore you used your fingers to take a piece. —>—>

biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow flat animals

DEAD FLAT

Two-dimensional animals that won’t move

In New Zealand we are supposed to have about 100 x 106 possums (Trichosaurus vulpecula). But if one asks some of the foreign visitors to New Zealand, if they had seen any possums in the wild, they will answer “Only some on the roads, run over by cars”. Such comments reminded me of my stays in Australia, where the only spiny anteater (Tachyglossus aculeatus) outside a zoo, which I had ever encountered, was a flat, dried up carcass on a road leading to Melbourne. And when one day in northern Finland on the carpark in front of her kindergarten my little daughter pointed to a dry and flat, pancake-like thing (which had once been a toad), I thought by myself, I ought to write a book about animals flattened by cars and lorries. Yet, as I learned when embarking on the project, such an identification guide to animals killed on roads, streets, and highways already existed. —>—>

biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow organs

Lacking Something ?

Organisms without the organs we expect them to have

Desmond Morris described us human beings as “Naked Apes”, but as I pointed out in an earlier blog, we are not totally naked, even without clothes. However, we do lack a tail – just like the other so-called “great apes”, but not the gibbons, the baboons, macaques, etc. When something is missing we notice it at once: a snake has no legs, but still does pretty well without them; whales and dolphins also lack them, and the kiwi bird of New Zealand, even though it’s a bird, does not even have wings. —>—>