Sept 11, 2022

News

Recently, I had an short article published in the British Columbia Field Ornithologist newsletter — a reflection on my involvement on urban breeding Glaucous-winged Gulls here in Vancouver. Click here or on the image below for a link to the PDF.

I was also fortunate enough to have some of my photographs posted on Dr. Jerry Coyne‘s website Why Evolution is True. The first was a collection of photos of Glaucous-winged Gull chicks and the second my foray into learning about the bees and wasps in my backyard.

Ramblings

Myrmecophilidae, also know as ant-loving crickets, are a rare genus of cricket that has evolved to live entirely in the nests of ants. Through evolutionary adaptation to their specialized lifestyle, they’ve lost their wings, as well as their ability to make or hear sound. There is sparse information online about them, with one of the best sources being on Antwiki (an outstanding source for information on ants of the world.)

From what I can glean, some species fool their ant hosts into thinking they are ant larvae and are fed directly by the ants on nursery duty. They must also mimic or co-opt the chemical signature of the ant colony so they aren’t attacked or expelled by their hosts. At least a dozen Ph.D. theses waiting to be written on these mysterious little insects, although given their rarity and lifestyle, it would be a frustrating and challenging venture. Regardless, they are one more astounding reminder of the myriad of strategies for life that has evolved in at least 3.77 billion years since our planet came alive.

Photo by Karim Strohriegl, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Reading

The Animal Translators – An engaging article in the New York Times about the rapid rise of sophistication in bio-acoustics due to the use of machine learning algorithms.

I recently finished reading Empire of Ants: The Hidden Worlds and Extraordinary Lives of Earth’s Tiny Conquerors by Susanne Foitzik & Olaf Fritsche. No doubt an informative and engaging book about ants, although I felt at times it was trying a little too hard to be charming.

Listening

In the mid-to-late 1990s, a generation of kids influenced by rave, acid house, and techno started pushing the bounds of computer and music technology. They ushered in what I consider the golden age of electronic music. While a handful of artists reached a modicum of mainstream attention, countless albums went relatively unnoticed, spread only by word of mouth or a lucky spontaneous CD purchase.

Released in 1997, Lunatic Harness by µ-Ziq (aka Mike Paradinas) is one of those hidden gems. The album ventures over extensive musical territory: from joyously playful to frenetically ecstatic to eerily brooding. In an echo of Charlie Daniels’ The Devil Went Down to Georgia, Mike Paradinas reached a level of percussion programming on this album that would have the Devil lay down his golden drum machine and walk away in shame.

For the 25th anniversary of the original album, Planet Mu re-released the original 13 track album along with related singles, remixes, and miscellanea: Lunatic Harness – 25th Anniversary Edition

Until next time, get outside and pay attention…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *