For decades, scientists have been intrigued by a black hummingbird that appears to be singing, its throat and jaw moving in all earnestness, but without making any obvious sound. Augusto Ruschi, a naturalist who catalogued dozens of hummingbirds in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, first noticed it in 1959.
The bird, called a black Jacobin, appeared to have portions of its song that were ultrasonic, “inaudible to humans,” said Ruschi, “and while one would only perceive it with special equipment, one can notice the moment in which the bird emits it, as its guttural region makes characteristic movements, commonly observed when a bird sings.”
Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates proposed that four basic personalities were driven by excess or lack of bodily fluids, the “humors.” Discredited by biochemistry, we may consider the idea humorous, but Hippocrates’ theories began a centuries-long consideration of temperaments and personality in psychology and philosophy.
Other ideas of human health were first spurned and then accepted. Germ theory, the thought that many diseases are caused by microorganisms, was treated with disdain when it was proposed in the sixteenth century. It didn’t receive its due until nineteenth-century experiments by cholera researcher John Snow and chemist Louis Pasteur, among others, proved germ theory’s validity.
Our boy Mic’s symptoms were so subtle and their onset so gradual we didn’t initially see them. In fact, our other dogs noticed them first.
Mic, a Pembroke corgi then 12, had always embodied good “dog manners.” He’d never met a dog who didn’t like him. Suddenly, he was enraging his packmates. We sympathized; his nighttime barking was fraying our nerves, too.
A number of vet visits and lab tests revealed nothing, and Mic continued to decline. But when his spatial perception deteriorated, we realized he was acting like some elderly people and concluded, almost tongue-in-cheek, he had “doggy dementia.”
Beyond the notion that animals other than humans may indeed possess
consciousness, Jaak Panksepp’s work suggests a litany of philosophical
implications: How should we treat animals? Do we have free will? Where
might we search for the meaning of life? Are our most fundamental values
actually biological in nature?
John and Colleen Marzluff, illustrated by Evon Zerbetz ’82 Yale University Press, 2011
Using field notes, personal diaries, and beautiful linocuts by Evon Zerbetz ’82, the Marzluffs chronicle their three-year endeavor to research the common raven, while raising and training sled dogs to help them with their work in Maine. Zerbetz is an artist in Ketchikan, Alaska, and illustrator of six books for children and young adults.
In 1974 between 15 and 18 million dogs and cats were killed in animal control
centers. To address what he perceived as “wide-spread irresponsible animal
ownership,” Leo Bustad ’49 DVM created the People-Pet Partnership and
promoted research into the human-animal bond. Although it is impossible to
assess the total impact of his work, the number of animals killed today is down
to four million. And the pet-people bond manifests itself in ways beyond his
Gaylord Mink, hunched over and quiet as a mule deer, picks his way through rugged rangeland near the center of the Yakama Indian Reservation.
Mink stops, straightens, and scans toward Dry Creek Elbow in the distance. Much closer, five wild horses lift their own heads to meet his gaze. They are all well within range.
The small band’s stallion snorts a warning as the nervous mares and a colt seem anxious to bolt. Mink snorts back, and the stallion circles even closer to take up the challenge, dragging his wary entourage in his wake.
Mink is a hunter who doesn’t pack a gun. He shoots … » More …
The Puget Sound region's 3.8 million population is expected to increase to 5.2 million within the next 15 years. If Puget Sound is to survive that growth, we must change our lives. That, and eat more shellfish. » More ...