Father’s Milk – a thing of the future?
In an encyclopaedia of 1909, I found the statement that the only mammal in which males are known to regularly supply milk to their offspring was a snowshoe rabbit in the Rocky mountains by the name of Lepus bairdii. Apparently this claim could not be substantiated later on, for the current view is that in spite of the presence of the nipples in many mammalian males, no male is known to normally lactate on a regular basis (but wait!). A combination of oestrogen treatment and nipple stimulation can, however, provoke lactation in male individuals of a wide range of animal species and spontaneous lactation, even in human males, is known. That male and female breast tissues aren’t terribly different is also borne out by the sad, but little known fact, that men, too, can suffer from breast cancer.
The fittest survive, but what does that mean?
Even now there are still people who do not fully understand the tenet of the survival of the fittest and believe it has something to do with winners and losers of a combat and physical strength. However, that even the smallest individual could be the fittest individual perhaps under conditions of a food shortage or an availability of shelters best suitable for small individuals and that an individual which is weak, but smarter than others could become the “fittest” through the process of selection is something that needs to be emphasized. To explain natural selection, zoologists often use the example of the white and dark specimens of the peppered moth Biston betularia in England: the originally rather rare dark variety became increasingly more common as industrial pollution increased and the whitish tree trunks of birch trees turned grey with soot. When pollution levels subsided and the environment became cleaner again, it was the lighter coloured variety that gained the upper hand once more.
Arachno-Technology: Is there such a thing at all?
My grandfather, who was not a zoologist at all, but a tea merchant, always had a spider in a cage on his desk. Since most species of spiders in temperate countries do not live longer than a year or two, it was not always the same individual that entertained him (and me). Collectively, all these spiders had one thing in common: they all spun silk, which is why spiders are scientifically called Araneae (named after Arachne, who had challenged the goddess Athena to a weaving contest and promptly was turned into a spider as a punishment for such impertinence). —>—>