A jaguar in the Peruvian rain forest eating the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, one of the major constituents of the shamanic brew ayahuasca. (The jaguar seems to be affected somewhat by the vine.) To make things doubly interesting, one of the most commonly reported elements in ayahuasca visions are...jaguars! And these visions even seem to transcend cultural and geographical boundaries. Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo administered harmaline to 35 white, urban volunteers, without telling them the substance they were taking nor the expected effects. He was surprised to note that "strangely enough, tigers, leopards or jaguars were seen by seven subjects even though big cats are not seen in Chile."
Tag Archives | Animals
The Atlantic speaks with Con Slobodchikoff, a professor of animal behavior at Northern Arizona University, who has spent 30 years decoding animal communications and believes we are approaching the point of breaching the human-animal language divide:
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A computer science colleague of mine and I are using artificial intelligence techniques to keep a computer record of the call that prairie dogs were making, analyze it with these AI techniques, and then spit back the answer to us, which potentially could be in English. And then we could tell the computer something that we wanted to convey to the prairie dogs. And the computer could then synthesize the sounds and play it back to the prairie dogs.
The [prairie dogs] have word-like phonemes, combining those into sentence-like calls. They have social chatter. They can distinguish between types of predators that are nearby — dogs, coyotes, humans — and seem to have developed warnings that specify the predators’ species and size and color.
Is amongst dolphins the best way for an infant to emerge into the world? I can see this going horribly wrong. Via Fox News:
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A pregnant woman and her husband have traveled to Hawaii where they plan on having a “dolphin-assisted birth,” a water delivery among dolphins. Heather and Adam Barrington, of South Carolina, are preparing for the July arrival of their first child through a series of prenatal and postnatal swims with a pod of dolphins at The Sirius Institute in Pohoa, Hawaii.
The Sirius Institute describes itself as a “a research consortium with the purpose of ‘dolphinizing’ the planet.” They recently set up the Dolphin Attended, Water, Natural and Gentle Birth Center (DAWN), due to what they claim is an increasing demand on their web site for people looking to give birth near dolphins. The Sirius Institute claims that giving birth with dolphins is part of an ancient native Hawaiian practice.
The new ecological paradigm is not nature with man-made systems interfering with it, but man-made systems with natural systems embedded in them. This vast man-made system encompasses the entire globe. There is no wilderness. There is no frontier. Nature has become completely co-opted by culture, but through chaos, randomness and unintended consequences, culture becomes nature once again.
In contrast to optimistic progress thinkers who believe human beings’ control of nature will steadily increase until we are ultimately able to live without it, I argue that the idea that we can completely dominate nature is an illusion. Nature is changing along with us
The Chernobyl Exclusion zone becomes a refuge for wolves and wild horses. Raccoons and coyotes take up residence in cities. Invasive species are on the rise.
As a person who practices shamanism, I no longer identify with federally protected endangered species, which are often tranquilized, radio-collared, inoculated, micro-chipped, poked, prodded and monitored from helicopters on a regular basis.… Read the rest
Are we moving beyond the human/animal binary? Via Environment News Service:
India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to forbid the keeping of captive dolphins for public entertainment anywhere in the country. In a policy statement released Friday, the ministry said:
“[Their] unusually high intelligence as compared to other animals means that dolphin should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purpose.”
The grassroots Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organization, FIAPO, was pleased with the decision. FIAPO spokesperson Puja Mitra called the decision “a huge victory for the dolphins!”
Ric O’Barry, director of the U.S.-based Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, said, “Not only has the Indian government spoken out against cruelty, they have contributed to an emerging and vital dialogue about the ways we think about dolphins – as thinking, feeling beings.”
Cannabis can have tremendous benefits for sick creatures, but veterinarian Dr. Andrew Springer Browne, who has treated numerous pets that got a hold of their owners’ pot brownies, warns that animals should never ingest THC. Via the The New Inquiry:
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Yes, an animal can get high on marijuana, but I would call it a very bad trip rather than being stoned or high.
The main clinical signs in dogs are low body temperature, dilated pupils, increased sensitivity to noise and movement, being unsteady on their feet. The animals are usually distressed and whimpering or howling. With really high doses they are collapsed, with a slow heart rate, barely responsive. This can last 24 to 48 hours. Usually they survive.
I would say though that any amount of marijuana is too much for an animal. Also, marijuana can have a variable amount of THC in it and also may contain contaminants like fungal spores, pesticides, or fertilizer.
We know what kinds of rodents and lizards we are sending up into space, but the question is, what sort will return? Yahoo! News:
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Geckos, mice and gerbils and other animals launched into orbit Friday to begin a month-long Russian experiment to study how space travel affects living creatures. The space mission, scientists assure, will return the animals to Earth alive.
A Russian-built Soyuz 2 rocket carried the Bion-M1 space capsule, with 45 mice, eight Mongolian gerbils, 15 geckos and numerous other species. They are expected to spend a month in orbit, flying 357 miles above Earth while scientists on the ground monitor the health of the capsule’s passengers.
While the project is run by Russia’s Federal Space Agency, an international team of scientists is overseeing the mission’s many experiments. Bion-M1 is Russia’s first mission dedicated to launching animals into space in 17 years. The last Bion mission carried rhesus monkeys, geckos and amphibians into orbit for 15 days in 1996.
Will this be how the world ends — covered in snail slime? Tampa’s WTSP reports:
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Since September 8, 2011 when the snails were first found, the Florida Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have collected more than 40,000 of the Giant African snails.
The Giant African land snail is one of the largest land snails in the world, growing up to eight inches in length. State officials said this invasive species eats at least 500 different agricultural crops, can cause damage to plaster and stucco on homes and though rare, can carry rat lungworm, a parasite that can cause meningitis in humans.
The last reported outbreak and eradication of the Giant African land snail in Florida occurred in 1966 when a boy smuggled three Giant African land snails into Miami as pets and his grandmother released the snails into her garden. It’s not known how the latest outbreak started, but it’s illegal to bring the snails into the US without a permit.
Our inability to perceive animal intelligence revealed the limits of our own. Via the Wall Street Journal, Frans de Waal writes:
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Who is smarter: a person or an ape? Well, it depends on the task. Consider Ayumu, a young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University who, in a 2007 study, put human memory to shame. Trained on a touch screen, Ayumu could recall a random series of nine numbers, from 1 to 9, and tap them in the right order, even though the numbers had been displayed for just a fraction of a second and then replaced with white squares.
I tried the task myself and could not keep track of more than five numbers—and I was given much more time than the brainy ape. In the study, Ayumu outperformed a group of university students by a wide margin. The next year, he took on the British memory champion Ben Pridmore and emerged the “chimpion.”
A growing body of evidence shows, that we have grossly underestimated both the scope and the scale of animal intelligence.