Tag Archives: wonders of nature

The Hidden Life of Trees

what they feel, how they communicateDid you know:

1.Many trees have pretty shady parenting techniques (literally). Their offspring grow up closeby, under the shadows of their parents, so they can spend hundreds of years under their parents’ thumbs. It’s for their own good, of course, and in tree years, a hundred or so years isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things.

2.Trees can send out messages to one another via airmail (e.g. “DANGER! GIRAFFE ALERT! GIRAFFE ALERT! Inject your leaves with bitter tasting compounds!” or something along those lines – I don’t speak tree.)

3. Humans micromanaging the growth of new forests in order to allow them to become old growth forests in the future does more harm than letting nature do its course, the way we do it. (This appears to me rather obvious.)

AND SO MUCH MORE (under the cut).

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Venomous by Christie Wilcox

How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered BiochemistryIt’s amazing what tiny little creatures such as the blue-ringed octopus or a little caterpillar in the rainforest can do to you (paralyze you completely and induce hemorrhaging, respectively), without even your realization that you’ve been bitten or pricked! Where Wilcox really shines in Venomous, though, is when she goes beyond show-and-tell and explains what goes on when you graze the back of that caterpillar with its bristly spine: contrary to what might be expected, this little caterpillar actually causes all the coagulants in your blood to become otherwise engaged so that they’re nowhere to be found while the rest of your blood is running rampant. Hence the hemorrhaging.

Venomous is engaging and serves as a great introduction into the world of venom and the creatures that produce them. Wilcox takes you through a variety of different types of venom, organized more or less by chapter, telling you what they do to their (unfortunate/maybe-brought-it-upon-themselves) victims, connecting their incredible abilities to theories as to why certain creatures should have developed the venoms that they did. In fact, Wilcox goes further and delves – relatively lightly, nothing to be afraid of even if you’re not scientifically minded – into the science of what different venoms do. What you get, in effect, is something along the lines of this: what creature generates what sort of venom, which does what to which animal by targeting which areas, likely influenced by which evolutionary pressures. Wilcox breaks it down so that you understand what’s going on – which neurotransmitters are involved? what areas of the body does it affect and why? why might these creatures have evolved as they did? – as you make your way through the rest of the book, keeping all the information intact by making connections throughout.

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