Inbound from Tomboy Style

Welcome – make yourselves comfortable. The results of a blog search on ‘motorcycle’ are here, there’s some cosmonaut/astronaut (female) art here and a post on Hedwig Kiesler (aka Hedy Lamarr) here. Finally, four recent shots off the phone that will serve as an overview of me & mine.


Messing around with unusual plants.



Two other good place to browse are the ‘Greatest Hits’ and the ‘alt.tentacles’ buckets in the blogroll. Hope you find something interesting/enjoyable!

Dogs, the diappearance of Neanderthals, and visible sclerae

Via @adam_orbit, an interesting piece on modern human/dog coevolution. LOTS of caveats, but at least one testable hypothesis regarding the white sclera mutation.

Domesticating dogs clearly improves humans’ hunting success and efficiency—whether the game (or the dog) is large or small. The same must have been true in the Paleolithic. If Neandertals did not have domestic dogs and anatomically modern humans did, these hunting companions could have made all the difference in the modern human–Neandertal competition.

I can’t help wondering whether the process of domesticating dogs was connected to changes in human anatomy and communication abilities. Domestication is a two-way street, as we know from examples such as the genetic changes that make adult humans able to digest milk. Those mutations arose several times in different human populations after the domestication of cattle. I have no evidence that the change I am about to discuss did or did not occur between 45,000 and 35,000 years ago. But it might have.*


A dog will follow the gaze of a videotaped human if the human first attracts the dog’s attention by speaking to it and looking at it, according to results published by Ernõ Téglás, of the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, and his colleagues. Indeed, dogs perform as well as human infants at following the gaze of a speaker in tests in which the speaker’s head is held still.

Ádám Miklósi of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, and his team tested dogs and wolves, and found that dogs were far more attentive to human faces than were wolves, even socialized wolves. Although wolves excel at some gaze-following tasks, perhaps suggesting a preadaptation for communicating with humans, dogs tend to look at human faces for cues and wolves do not. Miklósi’s team believes this major behavioral difference is the result of selective breeding during domestication.

Another way of looking at this phenomenon is that the white sclerae became universal among humans because it enabled them to communicate better not only with each other but also with dogs. Once dogs could read a human gaze signal, they would have been even more useful as hunting partners. No genetic study has yet confirmed the prevalence or absence of white sclerae in Paleolithic modern humans or in Neandertals. But if the white sclera mutation occurred more often among the former—perhaps by chance—this feature could have enhanced human-dog communication and promoted domestication.*


Kettle Hole Expedition II – pano and vids

As promised, a little more visual info from the great bog outing.

First, a panorama of the open water area of the bog. Side note: I downloaded and tried Hugin as a panorama stitcher (the source pix were taken w/o any assist – I can never find the pano mode on the camera and it has never done me much good anyway) and found it to be really quite excellent.

Bog pano

A video of me settling in to the mat, posted mainly for the sound of the water percolating up as I sank down.

And two videos of the mat undulating, the 1st mild and the 2nd a bit more wild.


Kettle Hole Expedition

I’ve known about our local kettle hole for many years, but for no good reason, have never visited it. I fixed that yesterday. It’s an amazing place; I know that there are kettles and potholes elsewhere that make ours look like a teacup, but think about the size of the ice chunk that made this landform. Impressive.


You first see the bog itself through the trees – lots of oak and some pitch pine as befits the very sandy soil – at the bottom of a steeply sloped dish. Most of the bottom of the kettle is a quaking bog, with some open water at the center (and around the perimeter). Here’s a shot of the bog showing the open water edge and, through the trees, the black spruce growing on the mat:


And a shot from the mat, back at where the picture above was taken:

Spruce on the mat

On the mat, Sarracenia purpurea:

Sarracenia purpurea


Sarracenia purpurea

A flowering bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia):

Bog laurel

And an especially stunted spruce:

Spruce on the mat

Expect a second post soon with video of the bog quaking (I hope) and audio of the water gurgling through the mat as yr humble correspondent stops and settles (again, I hope).