Monthly Archives: January 2008

Antsy Acacias

While reading up on giraffes and acacias on the internet, I noticed that the acacia featured in the original Science article wasn’t in Wikipedia at all – not even a stub! The acacia, Acacia drepanolobium (Whistling Thorn) has a ton of info about it lying around on the internet, so it definitely deserves a wikipedia entry.

I found a creative commons photo on Flickr and the photographer, Martin Sharman, graciously changed the licensing on the photo to allow for commercial usage so I could use it in the wikipedia article. So I made the article, and I think the subject is pretty cool – this tree has a neat symbiosis with several species of ants, check it out.

Etsy links

Some more interesting etsy stuff I’ve seen:

Removable vinyl wall art by ellynelly
– easily customize and decorate walls. You can choose your own colors for most of them. There is also a variety of these created by Blik Surface Graphics, including some designs from Threadless.

Wood and resin jewelry by modica
. You can customize these, choosing your own resin colors for each of the wood circles.

“Reflecting pool” earrings by themusesjewels
. Most of the blue you see when looking at the earring straight on is being reflected back – it’s really a silvery mirrored dish shape with a blue bead cupped within.

Berry Butt Ants

The first known example of parasite induced fruit mimicry: Scientists report (in the April issue of American Naturalist) the discovery of a parasitic worm that infects ants and turns their butts bright red — so they resemble berries. The parasite also changes their behavior, causing them to wave their butt around in the air. A bird spies the “berry”, eats it up and is infected. Bird poop is fed upon by the ants, completing the parasitic cycle.

Tall Tales

Science magazine had an article exploring a paradoxical observation: acacia trees fenced off and protected from herbivores seem to be less healthy. It turns out the acacia trees are usually in a symbiotic relationship with a species of ant that protects them. When nobody’s munching on the trees, they stop providing for the ants and the symbiotic relationship breaks down — in a way that’s actually worse, in the end, for the acacia.

Then I started wondering, tangentially, if giraffes and acacias coevolved tallness. So I googled around… what I actually found was some surprising controversy regarding the evolution of the giraffe’s neck.

Everyone pretty much assumed they evolved tall necks to reach more leaves, but in 1996 a couple of guys proposed that the neck was actually a product of sexual selection. Turns out that the males use their necks as weapons when fighting each other. Check out this crazy youtube video. (url: )

The argument they had against the feeding hypothesis was that giraffes spend a lot of time browsing at or below shoulder level. In 2007 another group published a study which found that higher quality biomass was available to giraffes higher up, due to competition with other foragers at lower levels. In the end I think I’ll stick with the tall-to-reach-leaves-hypothesis, but I thought this video of fighting giraffes was too awesome not to share.


I like the idea of Etsy. A place where people can showcase and sell the things they make – a free for all online gallery and crafts show. Although a lot of the stuff there is amateurish crud, some of it is really quality work. These knitware ceramics, for example, look pretty cool.

Obesity grows on me

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.
– Orson Welles

It’s the traditional day for starting weight management regimens. As I’ve done before, I’ll be recording my weight, caloric intake and exercise in an online directory.

Update – I discovered that Facebook has a great application for keeping track of food and exercise and weight … I may just use this instead of keeping records in that directory there. Sorry. I think you can see my info there if you have an account.