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Posts Tagged ‘science’

  1. How to chastise a chipmunk and other impossible solutions in caring for a wild animal.

    September 11, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Chipmunks aren’t like other pets. They are so unlike other pets that they adapt to become experts in getting what they want, and psychologically breaking down your will power to resist them.

    Don't be fooled by his Disney-like appearance!

    Don't be fooled by his Disney-like appearance!


    Today I worked from home. It was going to be a nice, quiet day at home. And best of all, I would be able to let out my darling chipmunk, Artie, to explore the bedroom supervised as I work. The only catch was that he had other plans.

    It started out as our usual day of him being out in our bedroom playing. He’d make some imaginary game with himself and run around the room like he was going to be chased by something outside the window. He’d run from the window to me, start nibbling my fingers to play, and so on back and forth.

    Today he decided my computer keys were the ultimate treat. Our normal game of him play attacking my fingers turned into him liking the sound of me click-clack typing and an extra exciting version of our usual game: with sound effects! Plus, this way he could get my undivided attention because I couldn’t even have my hands on my computer. He’s been known to try to bite my keyboard keys before, so I always scoot him gently off my computer and continue working.

    Sneaking around on Chris' shoulder

    Sneaking around on Chris' shoulder


    Of course, I told you my chipmunk had other plans today. After being on my computer a whole 2 seconds he managed to completely rip off my “arrow down” key. He then ran off with it and had me chase him around the room until he hid in the window sill tucked it in the corner and made little scratching hand motions as though he was burying it. At least I can out smart him here. I picked up my key and gently wrangled it back in place.

    This was so amusing to him that he thought he’d try it a second time. And so about half an hour later, there I was following him around the room again with a little white rectangle in his mouth. He knows, he just *knows* that this is the best way to get my attention and he does it. He’s much smarter than most pets, and his tiny size enables his trouble-making with the added benefit of escaping in a hurry and looking adorable doing it.

    After him falling into a cup of water a couple weeks ago, I no longer can have any beverages in the room with him. Not anything. And certainly not a cup of coffee because I’m sure the last thing a hyperactive chipmunk needs is a caffeine bath! So when I had some coffee I would put him away for a little bit. But he’s got so much energy he can’t stand even our big cage, so I gulped down my Kona blend and let the little guy out again.

    One super cute pic of Artie, just to prove he's my favorite :)

    One super cute pic of Artie, just to prove he's my favorite :)


    While writing this, I had my right arrow key stolen. This time he just accidentally dropped it and I was a little quicker at picking it up. He only steals the arrow keys. So far the “up” key is the only one he hasn’t taken, and now the right key has a nice big chipmunk sized bite in it, which was presumably taken with such force because he knew I was right on him to scoot his butt some place else.

    You can’t tell a chipmunk “no.” You can say it to them for your own benefit, but they won’t get anything out of it. Unlike dogs who are in tune with what humans mean and the importance of the symbiotic relationship they have, chipmunks don’t need us and don’t care if we need them. Artie is genuinely sweet when he wants to be. But he’s still a wild animal and is only domesticated to the point to understand the living situation he is in, not so much that we love his little stripes and that we raised him since before he could see.

    You can’t put him in “the doghouse.” You’ll just feel bad putting him in his cage when you’re able to have him out and end up letting him out again.

    You can’t tell him, “seriously, you just ate my favorite necklace.” No you can’t. I would know. I look over after letting him out again, and there he is, chewing on my favorite necklace I got from a cute couple from Africa at a local farmer’s market. Little glass and wooden beads spilled everywhere! As I was scooping them up, so was Artie– right into his mouth! He was even trying to eat the glass ones until I distracted him and he just dropped them. He didn’t get away without demolishing a couple of the wooden beads, just for good measure, to round off his day of shenanigans.

    I still haven’t put him away. He’s got too much energy still! The human mind can’t process enough frames per second to even see his little feet move when he’s running or grooming himself. So while simple things like running appear as a blur to most humans, you have to keep that in mind if you’re going to open a door around this little guy. Even putting him in his cage gets difficult when he’s fast like this.

    Well, I was going to make this post longer, but with all the attacks from Artie nibbles I think I’ll get back to non-click-a-clack sounding projects.

    California Chipmunk species log:
    9/11/2009
    Newly discovered behavior characteristics: endlessly curious, stubborn, like to inspect the world with their mouths, an ability to adapt quickly enough to their surroundings to be able to escape/sneak treats/get attention as they please.
    Artie’s tail is looking better and he never seemed to be bothered much by the terrible and mysterious loss of his tail.
    He’s hoarding and getting fatter as the weather cools, and he’s also slowed down in his growth rate.


  2. My inner fish: Tiktaalik <3

    August 8, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    If there’s anything that I should be writing about in my blog, I suppose it should be the things that I really like and want to share with others.
    There is a little fossil that has my affection, and it is Tiktaalik.

    Tiktaalik skull

    Tiktaalik skull

    I grew up, like many kids my generation, imagining that our very ancient ancestor who brought us to land was much like a mud skippy. How many times has the Discovery channel depicted it as such? It’s not too hard to imagine, but looking at a modern fish and imagining it as similar to a very, very ancient fish isn’t very satisfactory.
    Fortunately for nerds like me, there are other even bigger nerds out there who get work in miserable conditions like Greenland to find this fossil. This Devonian era fossil was found in 2004, and Greenland is one of the few places on this earth where that era of rock has been unearthed.
    Take a gander at it! For those of you who can’t use your imagination with the fossil:

    Tiktaalik, your inner fish

    Tiktaalik, your inner fish

    While this may not be very exciting to you (I’d have to ask why you read on, if that’s the case!) but I think it’s very refreshing that there are such great discoveries out there waiting for humanity. Something about the way that I was taught things in school as a kid always made me feel like we did everything, found everything, knew everything. The more I seek out to learn on my own, the more I realize we are a young species with much to learn about our world. There is so much we are capable of, so much we can do to change the world. (Like how I have a lot of hopes that in my life time there will be some amount of real cyberizing of humans for useful stuff not just a workaround for damaged parts..but maybe I watch too much Ghost in the Shell). Nothing has made me feel like we have so much to learn more than Quantum Physics, though. That, my friends, will be another post… uh… once I wrap my head around it a little better :)

    Please read more about this interesting little creature here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiktaalik

    While there has been a lot of hype lately about the fossil Ida, I think that Tiktaalik is still more interesting.  Ida is only one of many different transitional forms of primates. We actually have a decent fossil record for primates. Tiktaalik is possibly more interesting than Archaeopteryxeven, if we could only prove that it was a direct ancestor or something like that. I would think that during this time, there would be several different similar critters like Tiktaalik. They think it was a really marshy and swampy area and our little friend Tiktaalik got his more tetrapod like fins by squirming through tree roots underwater to hide from larger fish.

    Howdy Folks!

    How'dy Folks!


    Here’s one more gratuitous fishapod shot before I leave this one alone. I do have a strong urge now, when I see those little darwin fish on cars, to replace them with a life-like sticker of Tiktaalik. Afterall, if your interest is in the accuracy of science, you’ll have to admit those fish are desperately out-of-date now! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed him half as much as I do!