viernes, 23 de diciembre de 2016

What are some wild animals that have been known to "ask" humans for help?

The most shocking (sadly, so far) report I have ever read about was posted on Chengeta Wildlife blog last week.
To those who don't know it, David Sheldrick (DSWT) is a Kenya based trust dedicated to rescue and care injured wild elephants, and they also take care of many orphaned elephant.
Last month three elephant bulls resulted injured with poiisoned arows in North Kenya. None of them had never been in the trust before and all teh connection with it was that one of them had mated and fathered two calves in 20011  with two females who were raised in the Ithumba reintegration center of the DSWT, those females were now in charge of their own wild herd. The babies were named Mwende and Yetu.

Back to our story, the three injured elephant bulls struggled his way to the Ithumba instalations.

"We are sure that Mwende's father knew that if they returned to the  stockades they would get the help and treatment they needed because this  continuously happens with the injured bulls in the north; they all come  to Ithumba when in need, understanding that there they can be helped,"  DWST wrote.
And while it might be surprising to imagine an elephant seeking out  humans for help — especially when he had just been injured by people —  it's not unbelievable.

In the trust they received they were treated of their wounds and are doing very well right now. And these wild adult bulls seem to be thankful, the trust has informed.

Now, sceptics will find a thousand of reasons for doubting those males were conscious of what they did, that they made the intentioanl decission of going to the trust looking for help. Because with living beings it is always impossible to give a whole explanation that convices everyone.

But for those that are moved by this story, there are two important questions:
- How did those bulls were to go?. The answer given by the trust is that
Elephants have remarkable spatial reasoning abilities and are able to craft detailed mental maps that help them navigate  their territory. Considering their intelligence and high sociability,  it's possible that former orphans or elephants who have been treated by  DSWT could have communicated that it was a place of safety.
- Why did they decided to look for hel in men, when they have been injured by men?
And again, the only explanation relies in the high intelligence of those animals.

domingo, 18 de diciembre de 2016

Hope. Flying fox

Me encantan los murciélagos, especialmente los zorros voladores que me parece increíblemente bellos. Este diseño en photoshop me sorprendió a mi también, porque no estoy nada acostumbrada a que me guste algo que dibujo la primera vez que lo veo, tengo que acostumbrarme a verlo para llegar a aceptarlo, pero en este caso no fue así, desde el primer momento me gustó. 

Are there any other mammal species where males take care of their offspring like humans do?

Biologists call biparental those species in which the male invest a great effort in raising his offspring, understanding that the female always does her share.
As I see it, this label, biparenting, is somehow flawed since in some (very strange) cases it is the father the one who makes almost all the job, while the female is very relaxed in this respect and looking for future good fathers (see Syngnathidae and Common Suriname toad if you are interested in two examples. Also if you have time, mood, and an translator you can read this Feliz día del padre which is a sort of satyric post I wrote to reply a short sighted lamer that claimed that as a biologist she knew well that parenting was unknown in animals) . What I mean is that some sort of single fathering also exist in some species.
Coming to your question, in spite that good parents are by no means unknown among mammals, the truth is that birds practice this modality much more enthusiastically than mammals (about 6% of mammals in front of an overhelming 80% in birds. Source: Paternal care). Male mammals, certainly, have it easy to mate and go, since females have the tasks of pregnancies and breastfeeding and...well...such a long time between sex and a litter...who's gonna guess that should happen..., while female birds have -so to speak- a more fairplay start, since once they lay the eggs, they can share all the joys of reproduction with their marveled partners that have those shinning eggs to care. However, in some mammal species this trend has been reverted due, mainly, to practical considerations. Generally speaking we can find the best parents among rodents, canids and only some apes.
Challenge: very inmature and demanding offspring and a dangerous enviroment. Life is short and dangerous for rodents, their bet is live fast and reproduce fast. The newborns are a kind of pinky bulks unable to walk, see, and conserve heat by their own for a few days, they will have their mummy tied to them during this critical period of time. Solution?, daddy must contribute as well:
Several species of rodents have been studied as models of paternal care, including prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster), Campbell's dwarf hamster, the Mongolian gerbil, and the African striped mouse. The California mouse (Peromyscus californicus) is a monogamous rodent that exhibits extensive and essential paternal care, and hence has been studied as a model organism for this phenomenon.
A great source of good fathers. Their challenge is a combination of inmature puppies that need to be protected for a long period of time and the great contribution females make to hunting and defend the territory (they are working moms). Also, it helps that in many species that live in packs, only the alpha couple reproduces, so they have a lot of working hands (in reality working paws and jaws) to help.
Paternal care has never been reported as absent in any canid species, and some form of care has been seen in 18 of the 36 species in the family. Food provisioning, active defense of the young, and protecting young by remaining at the den as the female forages appear to be the commonest forms of male care. In addition males may groom, retrieve, play and rest with young. Male canids are rarely involved in den selection or construction. The effect on the fitness of the young of indirect forms of male care such as provisioning the female and territory defense are hard to assess. Quantitative studies of male provisioning in seven species offer few generalizations. In two species (Canis aureus, C mesomelas) females provided more food to the young than males; in one species (Alopex lagopus) the pair contributed equally to feeding young, and in four species (Canis lupus, Vulpes vulpes, Chrysocyon brachyurus, and Lycaon pictus), males provided more food than females. Much more data are required, particularly from field studies, before patterns of variation can be interpreted.
Certainly many mammalian males do great effort in order of growing their youngs, be it their offspring, their younger relatives or their group juveniles. Although they are not majority among mammals, because males interested only in mating and 'single mothering' -so to speak- is way far more widespread.
Primates in general, and apes in particular, are not so enthusiast about devoted biparenting. In fact, wikipedia seems pparticularly laconic when mentioning paternal care in apes: "Paternal care is rare in non-human primates". (Paternal care ). I think that some concepts can be added in defense of those primates, I will do it later.
Not the most commonly known apes, gibbons, particularly siamangs, are the males that take the greatest fathering challenges, apart from humans.
A group of siamang normally consists of an adult dominant male, an adult dominant female, with offspring, infants and sometimes a subadult. The subadult usually leaves the group after attaining the age of six to eight years; subadult females tend to leave the group earlier than subadult males. Siamang gestation period is in between 6.2 and 7.9 months; after the infant is born, the mother takes care of the infant for the first year of its life.
Siamang males tend to offer more paternal care than do other members of the family Hylobatidae, taking up a major role in carrying an infant after it is about eight months old.
The infant typically returns to its mother to sleep and nurse. The infant begins to travel independently from its parents by its third year of life.
(Excerpted from Arkive. A great site to learn about animals, and not, this is not spam).
Primates in general
Well, I will say some words in defense of how many primates practice parenting:
Although monogamy is generally rare among mammals, a number of primate species are monogamous. Extensive paternal care is a related issue but is one that is not necessarily associated with monogamy or with paternal certainty. For example, despite paternal certainty, primate mothers in monogamous species with body weights over 2 kg still remain the primary infant caretakers, while males in the communally breeding tamarins carry infants more frequently than mothers do, even in the absence of paternal certainty. Several different tactics are used by small-bodied primates to cope with the energetic burden of raising proportionately large infants in an arboreal environment: (1) infant carrying by subadult and/or related nulliparous females (Saimiri, Lemur monogoz); (2) infant carrying by fathers and offspring (Aotus, Callicebus, Saguinus, Cebuella, Leontopithecus); (3) “parking” infants while family members forage (Tarsius, Galago, Microcebus, Cheirogaleus, Varecia); or (4) some combination of the above (Callithrix, Hapalemur, Loris). Lactation length and infant growth patterns appear to influence which of these tactics is employed by a given species. Moreover, although most small-bodied, mated, monogamous female primates spend no more than 9 months annually in gestation and lactation,Aotus andCallicebus mated females are either pregnant or lactating on a year-round basis. It is this heavy female reproductive burden that may be an important factor in selection for extensive paternal care in these monogamous cebids.
And here, in the description of these tasks carried out by other members of the group we can find a key to understand that in some species there is are some ways of sharing with the males the burdens of juvenile raising, like babysitting, or even teaching. Yes, teaching: Susana Molina's answer to Which wild animals, if any, teach their young in communities / packs / classes or other groups?

viernes, 16 de diciembre de 2016

Sweet dreams

Otro dibujo de leopardo.

lunes, 12 de diciembre de 2016

Un recorrido por los artículos sobre la menstruación (y la menopausia) en este blog

Llevo más de siete años escribiendo este blog. No hago -apenas-artículos para celebrarlo, no pongo dibujitos de muñecos apagando velitas ni creo que eche de menos gente felicitándome por mi constancia o criticando la calidad de lo que escribo, a pesar de que sí que me gustaría tener interlocutores, de hecho este contínuo monólogo al que está destinado el blog es una de las mayores amenazas a su continuación.

Sin embargo es cierto que he tenido mucho tiempo para investigar sobre los temas que más me han llamado la atención, sin sentir la presión de tener que estar de acuerdo con las opiniones de quien pudiera leerme.
De este modo llegué a la menstruación en animales. Alguien me preguntó en Quora si los animales menstruaban y me encontré con un mundo de silencios y sobreentendidos, y con que la menstruación no es algo exclusivamente humano, y que de hecho muchos biólogos y médicos no tienen una visión generalizada sobre este asunto.

Así que he decidido recopilar lo que he escrito sobre menstruación y menopausia en animales por si a alguien le viene bien. Desde luego yo ofrezco mucha, pero que mucha más, información sobre el asunto que la wikipedia.

Sangre menstrual en una murciélaga, o lo que es lo mismo, una murciélaga con la regla. Adoro esta foto. Fuente de la misma: Wild Fulvous Fruit Bats

Sobre la menopausia:

Sobre la sangre menstrual y del parto en animales no humanos:

Sobre la endometriosis en hombres:

Sobre los animales que menstrúan, y cómo:

What is the role of birds in the ecosystem? What would happen if there were no birds?

To give an idea of what we are talking, birds suppose more than 9000 different species of animal, roughly they twice the number of mammals. They are fairly more easy of notice and watch that the vast majority of mammals in fact.

I will talk about the photo in the last lines of the answer. So, if you read about these Seeds of Sideroxylon grandiflorum. yes!, the answer is finishing.

In general the main role of birds in the ecosystems is being agents of dispersion.  Their ubiquoty make them useful as bioindicators, which is not a ecological role per se, but has been very useful to spread awareness about the importance of preserving our enviroment and the disastrous consequences of the overuse of some pesticides.

- Agents of dispersal of plants, but also of other animals: thorugh their activities birds spread pollen and pollinate different species, seeds, and even animals (Even animals can be spread.   Some wading birds relocate fish eggs that get stuck to their legs, thereby aiding in fish dispersal to other parts of a river or  marsh).
  Songbirds spreading cereal seeds.
  Hummingbirds pollinating flowers.

Cymbalophora pudica

Llevo mucho tiempo ausente de mi propio idioma en este blog. He estado publicando material mío de Quora en inglés con dos objetivos, traérmelas a mi sitio y el segundo, lo cierto es que lo digo con un poco de tristeza, mantener activo este blog.

Los animales siguen siendo mi mayor interés, pero la vida es también eso que te lleva por muchos caminos y a mi me ha hecho plantearme muchas veces dejar de escribir este blog, porque me exige mucho tiempo sobre todo para documentarme, y mucha dedicación en un acto que yo veo como solitario, yo hablo, pero no sé a quien ni si interesa o no. En ocasiones esta soledad es menos fácil de sobrellevar que en otras, y en este año he tenido más oportunidades de las que quiero de enfrentarme a este tipo de cansancio.

Mi decision fue seguir, pero poniendo menos esfuerzo, por ese motivo he publicado lo que escribí sin molestarme a traducirlo, a pesar de que hay material que creo muy interesante y muy ignorado en España, y en el resto del mundo, me refiero al recorrido que hice con la información que nos pueden proporcionar los animales sobre la menstruación.

Tengo en fase de borrador dos entradas sobre la filogenia de los perros, que como ya he dicho en la entrada que sin que yo sepa por qué se ha convertido en la más visitada de este blog, no proceden de los lobos. Pero si esto os llama la atención, no os quedeis en lo fácil, los perros no proceden de los actuales lobos grises, sino de unos animales de menor tamaño que probablemente se domesticaron/asociaron a asentamientos humanos, en dos ocasiones y localizaciones geográficas distintas. Por supuesto que a esos animales extintos los llamaríamos lobos, pero serían animales que tendrían unas características que los diferenciarían tanto de los perros como de los lobos grises, y que dieron origen a ambos clados.

Pero hemos venido a hablar de mariposas.

La Cymbalophora pudica es una pequeña mariposa con un patrón bellísimo de un mosaico de formas triangulares negras sobre fondo blanco. Este es un macho, porque las hembras tienen las alas menores de color rosado. Según parece los adultos surgen entre agosto y octubre, esta fotografía es de una tarde de mediados de octubre. Por el desgaste de las alas inferiores, este macho ya contaba con varios días como imago, y sposiblemente estaba terminando su ciclo vital. Belleza y fragilidad en una imágen.

Opening wave. Drawing



What..eternity?. Fragmento de un cuadro en marcha

Esto es lo que estoy pintando últimamente, en óleo (que es un medio que me da mucha pereza).
Con música de Whatsonot (que inspira también el nombre del cuadro), Touched

viernes, 9 de diciembre de 2016

Which is the best wildlife photography in the world?. Why?

I love beauty and tend to be attracted to the most aesthetic images I can find. Here are a many awesome examples, and I will try to give more.
But I have to apologize, especially to sensitive readers, because depicting wildlife, apart from showing the glory or histrionic beauty and gore drama of life itself, is also a call to the world, a nude shout of desperation, a call for help, because we need to fight for preserving so many species. And some of them are not usually regarded as endangered such as lions or elephants.
So the first pics I will add here are very bloody (sorry for the word, but also for the image). This is a cry for conservation:

This is both a dramatic cry and an image of hope for the species:
Obviously I have selected these photos because they are a terrible reality bite. I write a blog calling for conservation and protection of animals, I have seen these and more gore pics...I usually tend to avoid them when writing for young public, but I think that these images are very important to tell all the truth, to talk to an adult public and giving a hint of how hard and dramatic -and necessary- is the work of conservation.
I also will apologize for calling for giving supportto a "quoran local" wildlife organization: Home - Chengeta Wildlife, they keep this blog: Chengeta Wildlife.
And some amazing pics:
People in Europe tend to regard reptiles as boring static critters. Don't understimate them.
Hunter chased :).

It is a hard work.

martes, 6 de diciembre de 2016

Are there any mammals that reproduce asexually ?

No, in the sense of this question, it is not a way of reproduction that can naturally occur to a mammal.
But parthenogenesis (development of the embryo in females without ferltilization) has been induced under lab conditions in some mammals, like rabbits, mice and even monkeys. But the offspring often is disabled, the development is abnormal.

Source: wiki, Parthenogenesis.

lunes, 5 de diciembre de 2016

Which animals have curiosity? The kind of curiosity humans have!

How can we define or frame the kind of curiosity humans have?. Every definition that included human language, reading or discussion of concepts related to human acumulated knowledge would set any other animal apart.
If you focus it as a something similar to children curiosity, an attraction to discover and explore, many of the mammals in their first infancy display a great degree of curiosity, you can check it in many docs, the cubs exploring and the mother/parents absolutely stressed by those little moving things always to run into danger. After a moment in their lives, they start to display less blind curiosity, because they are in a survival situation and it would be very dangerous for them maintain that level of attraction for exploring without the constant protection of their mother/parents/group companion.