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xkcd: Beauty

29 Comments

I picked up the “parasite bug” from Carl Zimmer: “Oh wow, this is a really cool parasite!”

Zimmer says that even other scientists tend to find parasitologists strange. Sort of like the horror-movie fandom of science.

mrg said:

I picked up the “parasite bug” from Carl Zimmer: “Oh wow, this is a really cool parasite!”

Zimmer says that even other scientists tend to find parasitologists strange. Sort of like the horror-movie fandom of science.

That reminds me: once, I saw a picture of this poor fish that had the great misfortune of having two tongue lice on what was left of its tongue.

I was over at the marine science center in Newport, Oregon, a few years back, and I got to talking to one of the staff. He was REALLY into her charges, and was quite fascinated by her hagfish.

I scored points by not only knowing what ctenophores and cnidarians were, but even how to pronounce them.

“She …” a little typo there.

One of my co-workers got a call to investigate some strange yellow dog-barf looking stuff in the wood-chip-covered play-yard of the local day care center. As he described it to me and my boss, I said I bet I knew what it was. When we got there, sure enough… I put my blue nitrile gloves on and put it in a bucket and took it to one of our biologists. She happily stuck her bare hands into the goop and we agreed it was Fuligo septica. My boss and my co-worker think we’re both nuts.

Well, as somebody in a movie once said - “I hope you wash your hands before you eat anything!”

She happily stuck her bare hands into the goop and we agreed it was Fuligo septica.

Is it my imagination (confirmation bias,) or does that stuff seem to grow rapidly where animals have urinated?

I’m not being squeamish about it, just wondering if I’d seen a pattern.

Dangnabit, I just lost 2 hours laughing at cartoons. It might have been just one, but I had to go back and read all the mouse-over texts.

Thanks for the link. ;-)

All the pictures at Wikipedia indicate that it should be renamed “The Melted Peep Slime Mold.”

While I like the comic, it doesn’t do anything to really disprove the claim to the common person who has no idea what Fuligo septica is, sees no value in Fuligo septica, thinks you could be doing something else with your life besides studying Fuligo septica, and believes that studying Fuligo septica is a waste of time compared to the myriad budget shortfalls or (I wish) climate change.

Just Al said: Is it my imagination (confirmation bias,) or does that stuff seem to grow rapidly where animals have urinated?

In the half-dozen or so times I’ve seen it, most of the time it was on the forest floor, not on a trail or an obvious place where animals would urinate.

In the half-dozen or so times I’ve seen it, most of the time it was on the forest floor, not on a trail or an obvious place where animals would urinate.

Do animals pick a particular spot to do that? (I mean, aside from birds sometimes aiming at statues or parked cars.)

Henry J said:

In the half-dozen or so times I’ve seen it, most of the time it was on the forest floor, not on a trail or an obvious place where animals would urinate.

Do animals pick a particular spot to do that? (I mean, aside from birds sometimes aiming at statues or parked cars.)

It depends on the species: some animals with “nesting” instincts, like cats and dogs, pick a particular spot to urinate at to avoid fouling favorite resting spots, keep from spooking prey, and marking territory.

Other animals don’t. Like horses, for instance.

By the way, never stand near or, worse yet, under the nest of a crow or raven, especially when the occupants are raising chicks.

I picked up the “parasite bug” from Carl Zimmer: “Oh wow, this is a really cool parasite!”

Zimmer says that even other scientists tend to find parasitologists strange. Sort of like the horror-movie fandom of science.

I was fascinated by Zimmmer’s “Parasite Rex” – all those creepy critters! An overdose of yuck. When someone asked me why I would read such a book I didn’t know what to say.

I remember a classmate of mine being freaked out when, after I read “The Life that Lives on Man” by Michael Andrews, I pointed out what cool beasties are the eight-legged mites that live in our follicles.

I must admit that dog’s vomit slime moulds are a little far out for me, though.

The way I see it, scientifically minded people can appreciate the natural world in two ways, while the unscientific person can appreciate it in only one.

Matt G said: The way I see it, scientifically minded people can appreciate the natural world in two ways, while the unscientific person can appreciate it in only one.

Well, if you were scientific-minded and into recreational drugs, you could appreciate it in THREE ways.

Dave Luckett said:

I remember a classmate of mine being freaked out when, after I read “The Life that Lives on Man” by Michael Andrews, I pointed out what cool beasties are the eight-legged mites that live in our follicles.

Roger Knutson’s Furtive Fauna and Fearsome Fauna are two junior grade books on human parasites. The first book is on external parasites, the second on internal parasites. Knutson is better known for his earlier opus, Flattened Fauna, a field guide for identifying roadkill at 60mph.

All are highly recommended.

Karen S. said:

I was fascinated by Zimmmer’s “Parasite Rex” – all those creepy critters! An overdose of yuck. When someone asked me why I would read such a book I didn’t know what to say.

It’s worse than that. The other day someone was wondering why on earth I was reading Alexandra Horowitz Inside of a Dog, a highly readable account of what we know and suspect about canine minds. I mean, he knew I didn’t own any dogs, so it made absolutely no sense to him.

william e emba said:

Karen S. said:

I was fascinated by Zimmmer’s “Parasite Rex” – all those creepy critters! An overdose of yuck. When someone asked me why I would read such a book I didn’t know what to say.

It’s worse than that. The other day someone was wondering why on earth I was reading Alexandra Horowitz Inside of a Dog, a highly readable account of what we know and suspect about canine minds. I mean, he knew I didn’t own any dogs, so it made absolutely no sense to him.

Did you know that Stephan Reebs has a book about fish senses, perception, and behavior?
Parasite Rex was a really fascinating read, too.

I’ll look for it. On my shelf, not read yet, is T C Grubb Jr The Mind of the Trout.

Anybody who’s curious about Zimmer’s PARASITE REX – I ran an outline of it in my blog, starting with:

http://www.vectorsite.net/g2009m04.html#m5

Stanton said:

By the way, never stand near or, worse yet, under the nest of a crow or raven, especially when the occupants are raising chicks.

And never, ever, ever stand behind a rhinoceros when he’s getting irritated.

Don’t ask how I know that one.

Just don’t do it. You’ll thank me.

So will your dry cleaner.

stevaroni said:

Stanton said:

By the way, never stand near or, worse yet, under the nest of a crow or raven, especially when the occupants are raising chicks.

And never, ever, ever stand behind a rhinoceros when he’s getting irritated.

Don’t ask how I know that one.

Just don’t do it. You’ll thank me.

So will your dry cleaner.

There was this one big-game hunter, and his latest trip involved flying to Tanzania to hunt rhinos: it was also a complete disaster. Not only did the hunter fail to shoot any rhinos, but one rhino succeeded in lodging the tip of its horn into the hunter’s spleen while failing to detach it.

So the hunter flies back to the States, with the rhino in tow (and rhinos can not fit in Coach), and then makes a beeline to his doctor’s office.

The hunter pleads with his doctor, saying, “Doctor, doctor, you’ve got to help me, I have a rhinoceros stuck in my spleen!”

The doctor replied, “I’m sorry, but I’m not licensed to perform surgeries involving endangered species.”

“But doctor, you’ve got to help me! This rhino is killing me! Literally!”

“Maybe if you asked the rhinoceros very nicely…”

And never, ever, ever stand behind a rhinoceros when he’s getting irritated.

Don’t ask how I know that one.

Just don’t do it. You’ll thank me.

So will your dry cleaner.

Above all else, don’t eat yellow snow.

stevaroni said:

Stanton said:

By the way, never stand near or, worse yet, under the nest of a crow or raven, especially when the occupants are raising chicks.

And never, ever, ever stand behind a rhinoceros when he’s getting irritated.

Don’t ask how I know that one.

Just don’t do it. You’ll thank me.

So will your dry cleaner.

Gawd yes. I remember when I was nine and visiting the Pittsburgh Zoo and there was a rhino in his/her pen. There was a thick piece of what looked like Plexiglass and steel bars. For some reason the rhino cut loose with a steaming hot yellow stream of urine directly backwards at the Plexi. It was like a firehose and seemed to last for minutes. Fortunately for me the Plexi was effective because I just stood there staring at this wonder and remained dry.

So… rhinos appear to be dangerous at either end.

mrg said:

I picked up the “parasite bug” from Carl Zimmer: “Oh wow, this is a really cool parasite!”

Zimmer says that even other scientists tend to find parasitologists strange. Sort of like the horror-movie fandom of science.

Now wait a minute there bucaroo - I AM a parasitologist. What makes you think that those of us who study the most common mode of existence on the planet are any stranger than say, someone studying microscopic invert’s in dirt or bacterial slime in march sediment? If you want really strange, talk to anyone who has ever banded gulls at a breeding colony (now that’s a really Sh*tty job.…).

Vince said: Now wait a minute there bucaroo - I AM a parasitologist. What makes you think that those of us who study the most common mode of existence on the planet are any stranger than say, someone studying microscopic invert’s in dirt or bacterial slime in march sediment?

Well, it DOES feel a little strange to lock onto articles about the potential behavioral influences of Toxoplasma parasites on humans and think: “Hey, this is really cool!”

It’s not a new sensation for me, though. I wrote an online document titled DUMB BOMBS & SMART MUNITIONS. When I was done, I thought: “I feel like Gomez and Pugsley blowing up toy trains in the basement.”

It’s worse than that. The other day someone was wondering why on earth I was reading pandora bracelets Alexandra Horowitz Inside of a Dog, a highly readable account of what we know and suspect about canine minds. I mean, he knew I didn’t own any dogs, so it made cheap pandora absolutely no sense to him.Roger Knutson’s Furtive Fauna and Fearsome Fauna are two junior grade books on pandora human parasites. The first book is on external parasites, the second on internal parasites. Knutson is

pandora beads better known for his earlier opus, Flattened Fauna, a field guide for identifying roadkill at 60mph.

All are pandora silver beads highly recommended.

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