Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

For many species there is almost nothing published about their habits. This is one reason why people publish scientific notes, just to share information about observations that may help someone else to understand a species. Publication of short notes is not a given. Sometimes every obstacle is in a manuscript’s path to publication, it would be easier to drop it, but you push on because the observation provides a light that may help another research understand the species.PUBLISHED!

Problem solving ability in canines

Regis is a great dog and an important part of our household. The human-canine mutual relationship is alive and well.

Regis is a great dog and an important part of our household. The human-canine mutual relationship is alive and well.

Kelly, Regis (the wonder pup), and I were at a friend’s house. These friends have built a house that is nothing short of amazing. Kelly and I were on the second story back porch and Regis was down at ground level. Stairs exist to get up to the porch, but the stairs are located away from where Kelly and I were. Regis has used these very stairs multiple times. Regis wanted to get closer to Kelly and I, so he hopped up on a picnic table. While the picnic table did put Regis about three feet closer to Kelly and I, it did not exactly put Regis where we were. So Regis then did what any proud hound dog would do: whine.

Kelly and I then moved to a portion of this second story porch with a direct connection with the stairs. Regis ran right over and proceeded to try to use a swing set slide to get to us. This was a disaster. Once Regis had all four feet on the slide, he would slide back down to the ground. Regis really wanted to be with Kelly and I so he just kept throwing himself at the slide. While this was entertaining, this activity would not achieve the goal. So we walked over to the top of the stairs and called him.

REUNITED! Tag wagging ensues!

To me this was interesting because Regis was able to come up with solutions to his problem all on his own. Granted these solutions, did not solve the problem, but these were his own solutions. It is also of interest that when the picnic table was found to offer only a partial solution, Regis then called out to his humans. Regis, a descendant of wolves, is the product of thousands of years of a human-canine mutual relationship in which: dogs have provided shed hair to make cave-human’s stone couches furry and humans have provided the dogs with problem solving skills. He depends on us when the problem seems insurmountable, like when his tennis ball is under the couch and out of reach. It seems a fair trade, he is a good boy.

House Centipede

Last month, while walking in to work,  I saw this specimen of Scutigera coleoptrata (the house 2014-03-18 HouseCentipedecentipede). Centipedes are fast, but the morning was cold, so I was able to get a photo (hooray for a homeothermic metabolism!). This is a household predator, and can be thought of as beneficial (if you actually need to sort species as such – and if so, where do you place yourself?). I am always amazed that large household predators (e.g. spiders) always seem to exist at densities higher than one would expect given the household prey base (which seems non-existent). Perhaps this is because I am much larger, or perhaps I should study my household ecology a little more closely.

This is an introduced species and has done very well in North America because of our habitat manipulations. Being able to coexist with humans does have some advantages, but do not make the mistake of cuddling the house centipedes you may find – they can (and will) bite.


Why Cartoons?

It seems I have always been drawn to cartoons, even if I am not very good at drawing them. Strips that I have done or been part of that have seen the light of day in print: The Further Adventures of Captain Death, Johnny Asilid: Danger Force Nine, and Super-Mega Botanist Friendship Friends. The nameless strip that remains captive in this blog is useful for me, and I thank you for tolerating it.

I actually spend a fair amount of time reading comic strips. When I actually have a newspaper in front of me, the editorials and the comics are the first places I turn to. The Mark Trail strip was an early inspiration for me in comics that were about ideas. The Virtue of Vera Valiant was a newspaper strip I loved to read. It was a hilarious and absurd exploration of life that did not ‘try’ to be funny. This strip contains elements of every strip I have ever read, but not in a copyright infringing sort of way:

why cartoons