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The famous British-Indian geneticist J.B.S. Haldane is often quoted to have said he was quite willing to die for two siblings and 8 cousins, a statement, which is of course based on genetic relatedness, later expounded mathematically by William D. Hamilton in his studies on kin selection. Altruism and putting oneself in danger to protect or save other individuals, usually closely related ones, is not confined to humans but actually widespread in animals. —>

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Cool mice

How mice survive in bitter cold

The garage attendant opened the bonnet of my car to check its water and oil. When he jumped backward, screaming, I thought the water or the heat of the motor had scalded him, but he pointed at the front of my car and shouted “You got a rat in there, man!”. That was in Jamaica. And indeed, a rat must have found the motor of my car a cosy place to build a nest in. It had carried bits of cloth and fur, leftover bread and other foodstuffs there and obviously been a ‘stowaway’ for a while.

Having had to battle with mice in our stove in the kitchen, I wasn’t too surprised to learn that a rat had housed under the bonnet of my car. The mice in the stove were a greater problem, for whenever the stove became too hot, they left its interior and clambered onto the stove’s upper surface, from where only once (before they disappeared again in the stove’s interior) I managed to catch one of those overheated mice with my bare hands. Perhaps we were lucky not to have mice in our fridge, for mice colonies have indeed been reported from the inside of meat freezers! Continue reading