Posted by: Green Knight | May 11, 2011

Batrachian Backlash

This site has been getting astounding numbers of hits in the past week, and a spammer thinks it’s because I’ve been posting cute pics (well, the spelling-challenged troll said “quite” vs. “cute,” but the meaning was evident by context and repeated misuse).  I have no explanation; it isn’t because my animal-rescue friends on Facebook have marshaled to the cause of the feral cats, although they HAVE, and have been doing an exemplary job at it (thanks, folks!).  I haven’t even had any hits for my latest post on radiation levels in Japan; perhaps that’s old news by now?  The big topic has been and continues to be the whole Save-the-Frogs thing.  I guess frogs are popular.  They should be, they’re cool.  As a group of indicator species, the amphibians are hard to beat; maybe I should go into this further, and title a post “Schrödinger’s Frog,” where the box is the earth and we’re the cyanide capsule.  Even my physics friends might be drawn in…I could draw a Kaluza-Klein diagram with gill slits.

In a comment on the main frog post, I mentioned that the extra or missing limb phenomenon was due to trematodes; I’d forgotten about the cause.  They’re similar to nematode worms, and are parasites that interfere with limb buds in developing tadpoles.  I refer back to Carl Zimmer’s book that I gave a thumbs-up to a while ago, Parasite Rex, a great read.  Also, our amphi friends have been suffering from various species of Ranavirus since at least the ‘60s, so they’re being hit from all sides; that info I may not have known about previously.  Amphibians were here long before the dinosaurs, so if they could survive a few mass extinctions, and are in trouble NOW, that “indicates” that there’s trouble afoot, no matter how many feet they have or lack.

As a followup to the environmental determinism thing, I was interested to read that students at my old school narrowed down bin Laden’s hiding place merely by using principles from environmental geography, in this case what’s known as “island biogeography,” very similar to the enviro geoscience stuff  I worked on.  Their likeliest spot was about 180 miles from the actual place, but that’s pretty good using science without much in the way of political considerations.  Go Bruins!

And, for the obligatory “cute pic?”  Well, ol’ BC is a klutz who can trip over his shadow with his own feet, which is why (as stated in the previous post on teaching) I’m an effective safety instructor.  I can instruct people to avoid my mistakes.  Therefore, I offer this one:


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