((Hodge-Podge)) History. Art. Culture. The Written Word. Comedy. Nature and The Sciences. Oddities and Curiosities. Anything Else That Holds My Attention. Combinations Thereof. And The Occasional Stilted Personal Post. Please To Enjoy.
Just kidding, guys. These birds are just trolling the hell out of ants. I really, really wanted to show you this clip of a Galapagos finch or something harassing the shit out of formica ants and then being all “Yes, yes, bathe me in your fury! Your chemical defenses are now my own! Mwahahahaha!”, but the closest thing I could find is this video of David Attenborough pissing off some wood ants. It was basically like that, only instead of an Englishman with a stick, it was a bird stomping around with its wings spread just being an absolute asshole about everything.
This behavior is actually called anting, and there are two types of anting that birds can engage in. One is just anting, where birds will rub ants all over themselves to get that precious, precious formic acid all up in their feathers. They’ll also do it with mothballs, cigarette butts, and certain sorts of beetles and millipedes. The other one is passive anting, where a particularly lazy bird will find an anthill and just flop down on it with all their feathers spread and puffed and annoy the ants until they hop to and try to make them leave, at which point the bird rubs its wings together and goes “Yeeeeeess.”
They do this to get rid of external parasites, because external parasites are annoying. Ant-eating birds who do this are getting a two-for deal out of it, because they get the ants to empty their acid sacs in a beneficial location (the bird’s feathers) and then get to eat them without having to deal with the acid in their crops, so it’s basically like if your bug-spray or deoderant came in a bacon bottle.
Formica ants get the brunt of this, because they’re super-common and quite frequently spray the acid instead of trying to inject it, so the bird can get itself doused and then preen it into its feathers. Considering the spraying of acid is like the ant way of saying “Oh my god go away you dickhead I hate you we all hate you why are you still here jesus christ what is wrong with you,” we can be reasonably sure that they’re not super-thrilled by this bird behavior. Since the birds keep doing it, we can be reasonably sure that they don’t care about the ants’ feelings.
Birds are the actual best thing.
This was probably the best nature lesson I’ve ever had.
Altamura Man is the 400,000 year old calcified remains of hominid species believed to be Homo heidelbergensis. Altamura Man was discovered in a limestone cave, called grotta di Lamalunga, near the city of Altamura, Italy. The remains are located at the end of a cave’s narrow tunnel and are coated with a calcareous layer of variable thickness which often resembles a coral formation.
Bioengineers at Harvard University have created the first examples of cyborg tissue: Neurons, heart cells, muscle, and blood vessels that are interwoven by nanowires and transistors.
These cyborg tissues are half living cells, half electronics. As far as the cells are concerned, they’re just normal cells that behave normally — but the electronic side actually acts as a sensor network, allowing a computer to interface directly with the cells. In the case of cyborg heart tissue, the researchers have already used the embedded nanowires to measure the contractions (heart rate) of the cells.
Suffice it to say, if you can use a digital computer to read and write data to your body’s cells, there are some awesome applications. If you need a quick jolt of adrenaline, you would simply tap a button on your smartphone, which is directly connected to your sympathetic nervous system. You could augment your existing physiology with patches — a patch of nanoelectric heart cells, for example, that integrates with your heart and reports back if you experience any problems. When we eventually put nanobots into our bloodstream, small pulses of electricity emitted by the cells could be used as guidance to damaged areas. In the case of blood vessels and other organs, the nanoelectric sensor network could detect if there’s inflammation, blockage, or tumors.
Physics says: go to sleep. Of course you’re tired. Every atom in you has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes nonstop from mitosis to now. Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.
Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch by inch America is giving itself to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch. You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.
Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow, Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle, Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped all over town and History says: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.