zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog moving in water Florian Nock

Moving in water : Screwing up (and down of course)

And spiralling around as well

A look at the diminutive, fantastically diverse life forms and their activity in a single drop of water can be a truly amazing experience – provided of course you have not chosen tap or rainwater. A drop of water from the edge of a weedy pond (or a puddle near a penguin rookery, which was my source for a study) examined under a simple light microscope does, however, reveal a microcosm of hidden life. In amongst the jittering soup of miniature plants and animals, it is the group of ciliated protozoans that are the greatest attention getters. The smallest may not even reach 50 microns, while Paramaecium and Euplotes maximally attain 1 mm and the biggest like Spirostomum may reach a length of 3-4 mm.


Sexual selection : Female Preferences?

Or is it male persuasiveness?

The famous dispute as to whether the chicken or the egg came first goes back to antiquity when Seneca and Firmus first brought this up and couldn’t decide who was right. There is a similar problem with mate selection, namely whether females choose their partners (I’m not necessarily thinking of humans) because of innate preferences, i.e., something they want to see or find in a male, or whether it is because some males can be so persuasive and make females choose them even if they do not fit the females’ image of a dream partner.

zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog violence Florian Nock

The Philosopher Knew it All Along

But was the philosopher right?

There was a time when behavioural scientists educated or based in Europe and America could get into heated arguments over the question of the biological nature and origin of aggression in humans (and animals as well). Was aggression learned or was it innate? It can be shown that mice as well as dog puppies will become fighters when the keeper allows them to always win in an encounter. Losses dampen their aggression and diminish their confidence that they would win a battle. Daily stroking, patting and cuddling was shown to have a similar effect on aggression in these (and by inference) other species. Finally, lifting aggressive puppies frequently off the ground also makes them become more docile (or perhaps timid?).