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dimanche 30 novembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Screaming Gerbil

The screaming gerbil, Gerbillus hawkins, is probably the most famous, if not the most loved, representative of the Gerbillinae subfamily. As its name indicates, it is renowned for its loud vocalization, especially pronounced during the mating season, in late spring.
Native to the middle east, screaming gerbils have had a profound effect on life in the region. It is even believed that their screams have inspired the calls to prayer for Muslims that can be heard all over the world today. But most of us do not hold the screaming gerbil in such high regard.
In 1954, when the gerbil was first introduced the U.S.A. for research purposes, its cuteness was universally admired, and soon, thousands of the animals where imported for sale. A large number of species was sampled, to find which would best satisfy customer needs, and the screaming gerbil was among them.
Sixty years later, their numbers are still growing, as the screaming gerbil is now the most common rodent in northern America. Sales of soundproof windows, and extra-insulated walls have skyrocketed, and yet there is still no escaping the omnipresent vocalizations of our rodent friends.
The department of animal immigration (DAI) has yet to start addressing the problem in any meaningful way. Meanwhile, all the presidential hopefuls have pledged to make the extermination of the rodents their number one priority. Like all of their predecessors.

jeudi 27 novembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Pink Panther

The pink panther, Panthera rosa, is the only big cat native to Great Britain. Its name derives from the fact that it likes to patrol in the wee hours of dawn, when the sky is still pink, and not yet blue, and not, as is often assumed, because of the color of its pelt.

Rarely observed in the wild, and prone to rapid deaths in captivity, there are few facts known about the pink panther today. However, the elegance of its movements, the grace with which it hunts, and the power of its claws have long since inhabited the myths and legends of the United Kingdom. Sadly, there are a few places where the animals can be caught on film, even by a patient observer.

A few eccentrics among the British nobility have been fascinated by the creature, and turned their estates into nature reserves, in hopes of luring the animal there, and observing it. Although this initiative has had positive benefits on most of the ecosystems in the United Kingdom, it has not allowed for the observation of this peculiar feline. The pink panther, it seems, would rather keep its cover than claim its fame.

mardi 25 novembre 2014


There is only one thing I am aiming for. Only one goal to reach. And whatever gets left behind does not matter. The is only one purpose, and as long as it is fulfilled, everything else is poppycock.

It feels good, the clarity that comes with a unique objective. All the vices can be indulged, all the insecurity vanishes, because there is only one thing that matters. Only one thing that has any value at all.

I fall into dark nights and foggy days, time rolling past silently. Weeks and month are left behind, struggling, hardly breathing, but there is no need to turn back. After all, that which is important lies ahead.

dimanche 23 novembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Lightning Worm

The lightning worm, Amynthas adtonitus, is a close relative of the common earthworm, found primarily in the central plains of northern America. Venerated by native Indians as a magical creature in contact with the gods, the lightning worm inhabits mainly flat plains, with little or no tall-growing plants to attract lightning strikes.
When thunderstorms approach its burrow, the lightning worm will stick out its head, stretching it straight up into the air. Adult lightning worms can reach a height of up to fifty centimeters ( ~20 inches) from their burrow, with a total length of almost two meters (six feet). The goal of this behavior, of course, is to maximize the chances of being struck by lightning.
Due to a as-of-yet poorly understood mechanism, the lightning worm is able to transform the electric energy of lightning strikes into chemical energy that its metabolism can store and retrieve freely. The surge of electrical current generated is channeled by a specialized group of cells, called “generators”. This helps to minimize cell damage to other tissues of the worm, and assures that the current only comes into contact with cells that have the capability of transforming its electric charge into a difference in potential between the outer and inner cell membrane. This difference in potential, much like the one obtained in the photosystems of plants, will then be used to turn ADP into ATP using proton pumps (for a detailed explanation of this process, please refer to the wikipedia article on photosynthesis).
Although the electrical charge in itself is not enough to ensure the survival of the worms, since it does not give them the building bricks necessary to repair damaged cells, or grow, it is critical to their reproductive success. During their mating period, lightning worms spend most of their time defending their territory or copulating, and have almost no time to find food. The energy they can gain from a lightning strike can give them a definite advantage in their quest for progeny, and evolution has favored those genes that give them an advantage in attracting lightning strikes. This is one of the reasons why lightning worms live mostly in iron-rich soils. They are capable of extracting and storing the metal in special compartments in their head, which allows them to better capture lightning.
Due to the fact that his native habitat is unsuited for agriculture, the lightning worm has been little affected by human intervention in the past century, and even today, it is not uncommon to see hundreds of lightning worms sticking their head into the air in southern Arizona, in anticipation of an electric discharge.

jeudi 20 novembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Sock Snake

The sock snake, Natrix socus, is native to most of Europe. Its name stems from its distinctive, and rather bizarre, feeding mechanism. The sock snake, unlike any other known species of snakes, eats mainly acari. Specifically, those on the feet of humans. The snake will also swallow any skin parasites, but few of them get digested.
When feeding, the snake will dislocated its jaw, and try and gob up the whole foot. Then it will slowly suck out the acari, and other small invertebrates. This is a long process, and the nutritional benefits are small, but the snakes' metabolism is slow, and doesn't need much food. And of course, it helps that their hosts are consenting.
The sock snakes have always been considered beneficial in Europe. Over time, they have been integrated into cultural and economic trends, becoming one of the trademarks of the old continent, much praised for their beneficial effects. For some reason, the snakes refuse to reproduce as soon as they are exported out of Europe, and it has been estimated that up to half the tourism to Europe from outside is due in part to the sock snakes.
Biologists stipulate that it was the beneficial effects the snakes had on human feet that allowed them to quickly spread through the continent, and flourish. Why they cannot reproduce anywhere else, though, is still a mystery.

mardi 18 novembre 2014

Hotel Rooms and Scotch

The hotel room was adequate. Wooden floor, two windows, one TV. Two beds, freshly made. A comfortable armchair, a nice bathroom. The bathroom had no lock. But it didn't matter, since I had the room to myself.
I don't really like hotel rooms. They always seem very impersonal to me. Sterile. When I'm there with a friend, it doesn't really bother me. We bring our own dirt with us. But when I'm there alone, the feeling of emptiness amplifies.
There is too much space for my thoughts to spread out. Nothing that grabs my attention, that focuses my mind. I just wander around aimlessly, inside my head. Emotion well up without my bidding. Melancholy. Sadness, almost. But not quite.
She comes to mind. Unbidden, unavoidable, but welcome. Images linger in my brain. Her smile when she looks at me. Her smile when she watches a movie. Her smile when she is lying next to me. He smile when she is looking down on me. Her smile.
I can't recall her without seeing her smile. Of course, she doesn't always smile. Well, at least, I think so. But I can't imagine her otherwise. I wonder if it's the same for her ? I hope so.
It's not that I don't like thinking about her. I do. But it always reminds me that she isn't here. I could go to where she is, of course. But what then ? Love doesn't pay the bills. I need money to live, and so does she. I have projects I need to see through. Not for glory or fame, but because I need to be myself to be with her. Or so I feel.
There is nothing I can do, really, right now. So there should be no reason to feel so sad. There should be no reason to feel so guilty. But I can't stop. When I hear her voice over the phone, when I feel she is sad, or depressed, or angry, or tired, I want to be there with her. I want to take her into my arms. I want to show her that I'll be there, that I'm on her side. I want to show here that I care. Because if I don't, then how can she know ? How can she be sure ?
I'm still afraid. Afraid of making promises I won't keep. Afraid of saying words I won't be able to take back. Afraid of hurting her. Afraid of being hurt. But I can still feel my heart beating.

dimanche 16 novembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Coiling Smoke

The coiling smoke, Escherichia coiling, is a little-known prokaryot that is found mainly in tobacco leaves. Due to its particular requirements regarding habitat, it has never been successfully cultivated as of yet, and the study of its life-cycle remains an arduous tasks.
Although the exact functioning of its metabolism are as of yet unknown, the coiling smoke has at least one impact on human society that can no longer be scientifically disputed: it makes cigarette smoke coil.
The study of cigarette smoke, and its physical properties, has been the subject of few studies, if we disregard those focused on its impact on health issue. Indeed, the physical aspects that make cigarette-smoke behave the way it does are very underrepresented in scientific literature, the most likely cause of which is that nobody really cares.
But, as history has taught us time and time again, the most interesting subjects are often those nobody cares about. It is with this spirit that Ai Shteru, of the Tokyo Institute for Who Knows? Maybe Someday Somebody Will Care (TIWK?MSSWC), has undertaken his study of cigarette-smoke.
After a number of tests on the exacts physical properties of cigarette-smoke, Dr. Shteru has found that, in the absence of E. coiling, cigarette smoke does not coil, whether it be the smoke released from the cigarette itself, or the one blown from the mouth of the smoker.
Whether this discovery will have any impact on the human understanding of physics remains yet to be seen. But before we ridicule this research as another abuse of scientific funding, let us not forget: Science is the pursuit of knowledge. Whether or not this knowledge will help humanity is the domain of politics. But until we know, we won't known whether knowing is worth it or not.

jeudi 13 novembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Comet Hopper

The comet hopper, Rosetta philae, is an artificially created life-form designed to colonize and terraform comets. First thought of in the late 1980's, the “manufacture” of the comet hopper took more than ten years, and is one of the greatest scientific undertakings of its time.
Being artificially created, the planet hopper cannot be classified into the existing phylogeny of life, and thus, an entirely new branch has been added to the tree of life. Next to fungi, plantae, animalia, protozoeae and monoreae, we now have the homoformeae. Although the comet hopper is their only representative as of now, the new kingdom might grow faster than most expect.
Philae was designed not only to reach comets, but to start analyzing the surface components of these comets, and, if at all possible, gather the materials necessary for it to build a replica of itself, thus imitating, or becoming, life. The exact nature of the materials, as well as other information it can find on the comets, is sent directly back to earth, so that new command modules can be designed, to improve adaptability of the comet hopper, and allow it to create replicas of itself with materials not found on earth.
Although the comet hopper had to be shot into space for its first landing, and the cost and time involved in this operation would not allow us to mass-replicate it in current economical conditions, spreading philae from its initial home might not be quite as complicated.
Equipped with the latest model of movement sensors and cameras, the comet hopper can scan not only the comet on which it has landed, but also passing celestial objects. Once the comet hopper has created a clone of itself, this clone will then wait for another comet passing nearby, or any other astrological body of sufficient size, and hop from one comet to the next. Given the low gravity of the comet, and the precise mathematical algorithms that have been programmed into the comet hopper, this jump should not be of much difficulty, although the landing could pose some risks.
Of course, many have objected that the chances of encountering a suitable object are too low, or that the replication of the comet hopper would take too long. However, this is without considering the circumstances of the whole project.
Being a human-made object in space, the lifetime of philae is much longer than that of the organic life on our planet, which is constantly subject to oxidation, radiation, and other degrading mechanisms of aggressive compounds. But for a man-made structure in space, circumstances are quite different, and their lifespan should be considered accordingly.
If the programming of the comet hopper has gone well, the new life-form will execute its mission regardless of the time it will take. And who knows? Maybe in a hundred years, or maybe in a thousand, there will be a small representative of the homoformeae coming back to our planet. And won't it be fascinating to see what evolution has done to it?

mardi 11 novembre 2014

Of Things Long Gone

The past always catches up to you in way or another. No matter how hard you try to run, no matter how determined you are to move forward, the past always catches up with you. It isn't necessarily a bad thing, though.

The times when we got lost while running straight ahead, the times when we forget where we come from, or where we are going, our past catches up with us. It always does.

Like a shelter from the storm, like a prison in the plains, our past gives us shelter and holds us back. It is comfortable and familiar, and it has sunk its hooks deep into our flesh. It will keep us tethered to reality when our dreams try to take us to the skies. And it cushions our landing whenever we fall.

Our past always catches up with us.

dimanche 9 novembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Crying Seagull

The crying seagull, Larus fleo, has been considered an incarnation of the gods by the people of the Kalahari desert since ancient times. With a wingspan of up to one meter (~3.28 feet), the crying seagull is one of the larger members of the Laridae family, and flocks of the pure white birds are an impressive sight to behold. The birds always preceded the rare rainfalls in the Kalahari, which is why the natives gave them their name.
The exact reason why the birds would precede the rain, and not follow it, has so far eluded scientists. This peculiar behavior means that the crying seagulls arrive in the Kalahari when it is at its driest, and food and water are scarce. Early hypotheses about the behavior thought the gulls might feed on the animals that had succumbed to the harsh conditions, but observations on the field have yet to record a single instance of this behavior.
John de Galle, of the Paris Institute for the Study of Creatures With Feathers (PISCWF), who has recently been nominated for the French Award for Having Studied Stuff (FAHSS) for his paper on the behavioral patterns of the Paris fashion week, has stipulated that the birds use the strong winds that precede the clouds to migrate over the African continent, a journey which, according to Dr. de Galle, they could not undertake under normal conditions.
Recent observations of the climatic changes that are starting to affect the Kalahari desert have shown that the population of crying seagulls is directly dependent on the amount of rainfall in the desert. The fluctuations of both the gull population and annual rainfall are in perfect harmony. Although most scientists agree that it is the fluctuating climate that influences the birds' population, some have another explanation.
Normally, when a population declines in reaction to a change in the environment, there is a lag period between the environmental change and the population change. This is not the case here, since the rise and fall happen at exactly the same time. The only explanation is that the two changes share the same cause”, said Thomas Fifi, of the African Institute for the Study of Dry Places (AISDP).

jeudi 6 novembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Addicted Rat

The addicted rat, Rattus norvegicus demonicus, is a subspecies of the common brown rat, Rattus norvegicus. The common brown rat had been used in scientific experiments for over a century, and in the course of those experiments, a number of strains have been cultivated for one or more interesting traits. This is also the case of the addicted rat.
The addicted rat has been used mainly in labyrinth-experiments, where solving a puzzle or finding one's way through a maze is recompensed by a treat, often in the form of food. To discover the extent of the cognitive capabilities of rodents, scientists selected the best performers, and made them do more and more complicated tasks for their reward.
At first, it was believed that the strain thus selected would have higher intelligence than the average brown rat. However, subsequent trials have proven that this is not the case. The addicted rat is in no way intellectually superior to the brown rat. It is, however, much more susceptible to addiction, and thus, has a much stronger drive to solve a puzzle or reach the end of a maze. However, whenever there is no reward to be obtained, the addicted rat performs significantly lower on cognitive tests than a common brown rat.
In 1976, panic broke out in a laboratory in Oslo, as Gunnar Gunnerd discovered that the whole population of addicted rats had managed to escape their cages. Scientists feared that the animal would upset the balance of the local ecosystem, and, due their ease with puzzles and mazes, would be very hard to catch.
As it turned out, the whole population was found one hour later in a storage room where the rewards for the lab animals where kept. Given that the door was locked, and that no air duct was connected to the room, it remains a mystery to this day just how the rats gained access to the treats, or even how they managed to open their cages.
After the episode, the animals were transferred to a safe room, and kept under lock 24/7, to ensure they did not escape again. This precaution, as it turned out, was unnecessary, since all the rats died a few days later, as a consequence of the excessive treat-consumption that had happened during their escape.
The addicted rat fell into disgrace after the Oslo incident, and has been avoided in laboratories ever since. However, Dr. Jensjens Gunnerd, son of Gunnar Gunnerd, and part of a team of human ethology at the Oslo Institute of Ethically Dubious Studies (OIEDS), has recently started to breed them again, and hopes to find clues as to how humans interact while observing their behavior. As far as Dr. Gunnerd is concerned, “the only other species known to mankind that would show this kind of self-destructive behavior is, well, mankind itself.”

mardi 4 novembre 2014


Freedom is a strange boon. When there is nothing to hold you back, there is nothing to push you forward. You just have to take your shot, and nobody can tell whether you'll miss or hit. Nobody can help you, and nobody can stop you.

Freedom is a strange boon. You stay suspended in limbo, with no point of references. Floating through empty space, you try to recreate reality to your liking, but it remains sketchy at best. Freedom is a strange boon.

dimanche 2 novembre 2014

Animals that don't Exist

The Music Makers

The music makers, Lemuridae melodia, are part of the same family as the lemurs indigenous to the island of Madagascar. Given the intense urbanization and deforestation that has been ravaging this unique island for the better part of a century, it was commonly believed that the music makers had gone extinct since at least two decades. However, they have recently been rediscovered on mainland Africa. How they came to establish a new population on the continent is unknown as of yet, but scientists believe that they are the descendants of illegally shipped animals.
Although their name might indicate a rather vocal species, the music makers are extremely discrete animals, and their observation requires patience and luck in equal amounts. They live in groups of ten to twenty animals, and between two and four members of the tribe are always on lookout. Unlike most animals, who only sound the alarm when danger is spotted, the music maker watchmen/women are constantly relaying the state of their surroundings to the group by imitating various sounds found in the jungle.
For the untrained ear, it is almost impossible to distinguish the deliberate sounds made by the lemurs from the background noise found in the forest. And because the whole group is constantly aware of everything happening around them, it is extremely difficult to sneak up on them. However, when the music makers are pushed out of their natural habitat by lack of food or human action, their “music” renders them extremely conspicuous, and thus easy prey for nearby predators, or poachers. Which is why their population on Madagascar was one of the first to suffer massive decline due to human interference with their natural habitat.
Before the arrival of the white man, music makers were among the most revered species of lemurs. Local villages considered them to be an incarnation of God, and recent research by Prof. Dhamouli Badabambam, of the African Institute for Dope Beats (AIDB), suggests that the tribal music that emerged on or around Madagascar was heavily influenced by the sound of the lemurs.
Even in modern times, the music makers have continued to inspire performances around the world, whether it be carnival bands from the early nineteen-hundreds, or modern drum'n'bass from the nineties. And who knows? Maybe their recent rediscovery will revive the trend.