Updates no more

jeudi 29 janvier 2015


I will be taking a break from BehindTheZ for the next three months, mainly because I will be spending most of my time in internet-free places, and wouldn't be able to keep a regular schedule of updates. I might post some texts from time to time, but 'Animals that don't Exist' will be on hold until I get back. We'll see how it goes on from there.

To all you people who read this blog regularly, and to all those who just drop by from time to time, thanks a bunch!

And see you soon!

Animals that don't Exist

The Eternal Goose

The eternal goose, Anser invictus, is a close cousin of the bar-headed goose. Breeding annually in the high plateaus of the Himalaya, the birds spend most of the year flying at extremely high altitudes. Several eye-witnesses have reported sightings of the geese from commercial airliners from all over the world.
Scientists have been interested in the eternal goose for a long time, especially the mechanisms that allow it to fly at heights of up to 10'000 meters (~33'000 feet), and the selective pressures that have pushed them to choose this lifestyle. In recent years, the geese have been tracked year round, and the data obtained showed that the animals were even more amazing than thought at first.
If before it was believed that 10'000 meters was their maximum altitude, it has now been shown that it is in fact their cruising altitude. Indeed, after their short reproductive period, the animals will fly off, quickly reaching their cruising altitude, at which they will remain until it is time to breed again.
Analysis of flight routes, as well as wind patterns, show that the geese, once they reach their desired height, barely have to make any effort at all. The wind currents will simply let them glide along, until, nine months later, they once again arrive at their breeding grounds. While the birds are at high altitude, they reduce their metabolism to a minimum, consuming almost no energy at all. The cold of the upper reaches of the atmosphere, combined with a special protein that prevents ice-crystals from forming, helps prevent cellular damage. And of course, the high altitude makes sure that they are safe from most, if not all, predators.
Due to the fact that they spend most of their time in a form of suspended hibernation, eternal geese are among the most long-lived animals on the planet. How long exactly they can live has not yet been determined, because since the studies begun, over sixty years ago, most of the animals that survived their first year have stayed alive.
Today, however, the geese face a growing threat from climate change. The changes in temperatures provoked by global warming affect the air currents, and leave the geese either caught up in the gales, and unable to descend at their destination, or stranded in unfamiliar lands at irregular intervals. Wether this will cause the extinction of the species, or allow them to colonize new habitats, remains to be seen.

mardi 27 janvier 2015


Today is the day. The one. Long awaited. Reunion.
There are some thing you can only understand if you feel them. And there are some things you can only imagine if you see them. White poweder on the mountaintops.

Ride on!

jeudi 22 janvier 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Two-legged Pig

The two-legged pig, Sus duocruris, is a relatively new member to the Sus genus, which encompasses all pigs. But despite its young age, it has already had a large impact on our society, as most of us are aware of.
The two-legged pig is a master of disguise, and can easily pass for human from a distance. This is essential for its survival, since it inhabits almost exclusively urban areas. In cases where its true identity has been spotted, two-legged pigs are chased out of town, or, in more extreme cases, gutted, hamstrung, and then fried, boiled or salted, depending on local customs. The reasons for this anger is obvious if we take a closer look at the behavior of two-legged pigs.
Instead of rummaging through trashcans or depending on leftovers, the two-legged pig is a master swindler, and a great orator. Thanks to its ability to mimick human behavior, and its astute powers of observation, it can easily adopt behavior that puts human spectators at ease, and, in the long run, diminishes their brain-activity. Once the victim is thus entranced, the two-legged pig will then proceed, through visual and audio cues playing to the human unconscious, to relieve its crowd of most of its belongings (the two-legged pig prefers cash, but, as most members of its genus, will get whatever it can, whenever it can).
The population size of the two-legged pig is hard to estimate, due to its camouflage, but scientists believe it is growing steadily. Worst-case scenarios have been presented where models estimate that by the end of the 21st century, two-legged pigs will outnumber humans in political and financial roles. How to stop the rise of the two-legged pig, however, remains open for debate. While some are in favor of encouraging education (which will make it easier to see through the two-legged pig's charade), others advocate genetic tests on all members of risk groups, to make sure they are indeed human, and not two-legged pigs. Others still insist that the two-legged pig is myth, and no cause for concern. A member of the latter group has recently been gutted, hamstrung, and grilled, to the delight of pig-haters and barbeque enthusiasts alike.
For a more detailed description of the evolution and behavior of the two-legged pig, please refer to George Orwell's “Animal Farm”, which remains one of the seminal works on the subject.

mardi 20 janvier 2015


White is falling form the white skies. The first time this year it comes in great numbers, covering the view outside my window with a fluffy blanket of cold cotton. The night grows light as the white mantle descends on the land.
On the morning already it is melting fast, sucking the warmth out of the cold air. It drops and dribbles, nibbles at the stone it kisses. Softly the cold lips take what the may and disappear. Here, at least.
Elsewhere, I am sure, the solid clouds of ivory will keep the land hidden for much longer. Time to grab my board.

dimanche 18 janvier 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Dark Fly

The dark fly, Anopheles caligatus, does not get its name from its color, which is, in fact, a light grey. Rather, it is due to its preferred habitat. Just as the dark fly is not a fly, but a mosquito.
The dark fly lives mainly in the caves of Southern Europe, although some colonies have been found as far north as Bergen, in Norway, and others as far south as the Atlas mountains in Morocco. Although many mosquito species fly in swarms during the mating season to improve chances of reproduction and as a defense mechanism against predators, the behavior is more pronounced in dark flies, and for good (evolutionary) reasons.
Living in caves, they often share their habitat with bats. Dark flies emit a strong odour that repels the nightly mammals, but only if they can gather in big enough swarms for the smell to reach a certain threshold. Otherwise, the bats will trade off the slight dipleasure for a juicy meal. However, it has been observed on mutlitple occasions that, whenever a swarm of dark flies manages to settle in a cave, it will soon drive out the bats. Indeed, Dr. Hugo Forsher, from the German Institute of Reverse Displacement (DIVV, Deutsches Institut der Verkehrten Verscheuchung), believes that dark flies are one of the main causes for dwindling bat populations in Europe today.
The fact that dark flies ar drawn to darkness, and not light, is an as-of-yet unexplained curiosity. This behavior has driven the mosquitoes into caves, where the low visibility and intense echoes make communications through sound and sight impractical. Because of this, dark flies have a very pronounced olfactive sense. It is believed that there is not a place in Europe from where a dark fly would not be able to find the nearest colony of its fellows.
Although they rarely come into contact with humans due to their living preferences, a few cases have been reported where people venturing into caves inhabited by dark flies have had so much of their blood sucked that their lives where in jeopardy. What the mosquitoes eat when no humans are present is not yet know, altough scientists believe their diet must consist mainly of small mammals that wander into their territory. None of them went to check, though.

jeudi 15 janvier 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Radio Parrot

The radio parrot, Ara radius, is a close cousin to the blue-and-gold macaw, and one of the bigger representatives of the Psittacidae family. Native to South-America, the species had long been considered a phenotype of the blue-and-gold macaw, due to its plumage following the same pattern, if not the same colors. Indeed, instead of the blue and yellow, radio parrots have green and red feathers, making them extremely hard to spot in the jungle. But not very hard to hear.
Like many migratory birds, the radio parrots have a special organe in their brains that contains a small metallic “needle”, allowing them to find their north. In addition to telling us something about the evolutive history of this species (radio parrots are not migrating birds, but the presence of this organ indicates they must have been some time in the past), it also allows radio parrots to “tune in” to the frequencies used by man-made radios. When radio waves pass through or near the parrots, they will shuffle their feathers and squawk in rythmic sequences, which are influenced by the information carried by the radio waves.
When this was first discovered by Dr. Jack Ough, from the South-American Institute for Feathers n'Stuff (SAIFS), it was seen only as a small curiosity in the biological world. However, it has recently become clear that the importance of the radio parrot is much higher than previously assumed. Indeed, a number of rebel groups hiding in the South-American jungle use the birds to detect enemy signals, which would alert them to radio-surveillance or imminent attacks. In addition, several cryptologists have been able to decipher important information contained in radio communications from the behavior of radio parrots.
Meanwhile, the wild populations of radio parrots keep plummeting, presumably because of the extreme disturbance the animals experience because of omnipresent radio-waves in their habitat. The global use of cellphones has only excarberated the problem, and it seems likely that the species will go completely extinct in the wild by the end of the decade.

mardi 13 janvier 2015

Letters from the Northern Lands

Is now available as an illustrated .pdf at : https://mega.co.nz/#!AJxyTJgB!M4LBpkIPMI2pnZoT4YKnlUBoKZrOpZrX1RxK2LDLBgA

Get yours before the FBI shut them down again!

Although, since Kim Dotcom has now joined the fight against DDoS attacks (and having better results than aforementioned TLA), who knows, they might just let him run this thing for a while ;)

dimanche 11 janvier 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Dashi Fish

Although the dashi fish, Sarda shiru, is found everywhere in the pacific ocean, its populations have always been small. Less abundant than its cousins, it was at first considered to be a mutation of the pacific bonito. For the dashi fish, although resembling its cousins in appearance, has a unique ability that has made it one of the unknown stars of japanese gastronomy.
Indeed, the dashi fish is often found in waters with erratic salt content. To adjust its metabolism when changing between high and low concentration of salt and minerals in the water, it releases or absorbs salts and minerals through its skin.
When put in sweet water, the dashi fish will exude a large amount of compounds and salts, thus giving the soup a deep and strong taste. The strength or subtlety of the flavor can be adjusted by leaving the fish more or less time in the water, or by changing the amount of water he is swimming in. Nowadays, the fish is never left in the water for more than five minutes, to make sure he can survive, after which he is put back in a saltwater basin.
When his use in stock-making was first discovered in Japan during the Muromachi period, only the most renowned restorants could afford dashi fish dashi, the fish being rare, and hard to maintain alive with the techniques of the time. However, knowledge about the correct method to handle the fish quickly increased, and by the beginning of the Edo period, most professional cooks in Japan had a dashi fish.
Today, the dashi fish is an integral part of Japan's food culture. Water where a dashi fish has swum is boiled until no water remains, and the resulting powder is sold in every supermarket in the nation.

jeudi 8 janvier 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Uncontrolled-Urges Gene

Today, we shall once again forfeit the safe haven of unequivocally animal species, and venture into the strange realm at the frontier between life and chemistry, where commmonly accepted definitions lose their power and speculation takes over. But first, we must take a quick detour to examine the notion of “parasite” genes.
These genes are so called because they contribute little to the functions necessary for life and reproduction. Instead of, for example, determining the way muscles are placed, or our visual accuity, they simply reproduce themselves within our genome, using up resources the organism could otherwise use to further its cause as a whole. One of these genes is the uncontrollable-urges gene, or, as scientists like to call it, the Britney-Spears gene (“oops, I did it again”), BS gene for short.
This gene, in addition to shamelessly self-duplicating, also has another effect, which, in the eyes of some biologists, takes it out of the category of “selfish” genes: when in the presence of alcohol, it undermines our ability to restrain ourselfs, shutting down communication between our frontal cortex and the reptilian brain.
Analysis of the genome of excavated skeletons through the ages show that the BS gene appeared around one-hundred thousand years ago. At that time, many human populations had already mastered the art of fermentation, and it seems that the gene spread rapidly through all spheres of primitive human society.
Today it is present in over 99% of humans, and scientists estimate it is responsible for over 30% of births, and 70% of minor misdemeanors, worldwide. After its recent discovery, people accused of crimes commited while under the influence have argued that the BS gene, by inhibiting their inhibation mechanisms, made them non-competent, and that thusly, they cannot be held responsible for their actions. Judges have argued that “everybody knows alcohol makes you do stupid shit since long ago, and that has never meant that people are not responsible for their actions when drunk”.

mardi 6 janvier 2015

Timely Updates

Ain't easy.
Tired, hangover, bored, uninspired. And yet, still obligated to write something.

Just for you!

dimanche 4 janvier 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Thoght Pig

The though pig, Sus mensmentis, is a member of the Suidae, commonly known as the pig family. Like its cousin, the domesticated pig, the thought pig is dependant on humans for its survival, and lives mainly off of leftovers. Except that instead of food leftovers, the thought pig lives off of leftover or rotten thoughts.
The thought pig used to be an underrepresented species, compared to the other members of the pig genus. But in recent years, its population has exploded, and the thought pig is believed to be on its way to become to most prolific species in urban environments.
Especially in capital cities, such as Washington D.C., Tokyo or Moscow, the thought pig thrives. Political institutions are a favorite spot for the thought pigs. Politicians have proposed a number of measures to curb the thought pig epidemic, but it seems that discussions about the subject have attracted even more thought pigs.
Thought pigs have always been part of human society, and considered necessary to limit the propagation of bad or rotten thoughts. They have long been revered for keeping our brains free of unneeded or nonsensical thoughts. The recent explosion of the thought pig population, however, seems to indicate that, even with large numbers, they are no longer able to eat away all the useless, discarded or rotten thoughts our society is putting out there.

jeudi 1 janvier 2015

Animals that don't Exist

The Annual Slug

The annual slug, Hermissenda anno, is a member of the Nudibranchia clade, a group of shelless mollusks, or sea slugs, with external gills. At first glance undistinguishable from the other members of its order, the annual slug displays the strikingly beautiful colors associated with nudibranches. Like his cousins, the annual slug is a predatory mollusk, preying on the soft-bodied organisms he finds in his territory. What sets him apart is a rather peculiar trait when it comes to said territory.
Although nudibranches normally wander the sea floor more or less randomly in search of prey, it is not so with the annual slug. This peculiar animal follows a very precise route when in motion, and what it even more intriguing, he does so at a fixed speed. Indeed, annual slugs, once they have shed their larval shell and become adults, will move in a well-defined circle, at a speed of exactly one lap per year. Thus the name.
Why the slugs behave like this, we do not yet know. It has been observed that, depending on the terrain they have to cross, the circle on which they move will be slightly bigger or smaller. This curious fact has prompted a number of experminents by marine biologists, in which they would change the terrain of the circle randomly, making it more or less easy to cross. These studies took several years to complete, and it has been determined that the circle will always be of a size requiring precisely 2345±1 Kcal to complete. Where that number comes from, and why it is so rigourously respected by all members of the species, remains a mystery.
Being forced to stay on his circle (except when major disruptions of the sea floor make it unpracticable, or significantly change the terrain), the annual slug is unable to meet a partner for sexual reproduction. This problem has been solved by the slug explusing his reproductive cell into the water, where they will drift until they meet a cell from another individual, whereupon the two cells will fuse and start to grow into an organism. To maximize chances of encountering other reproductive cells, all annual slugs release their “eggs” at the same moment once every three years. This method of reproduction is a rarity in the nudibranches order.
The people of Hawaïi, where the annual slug lives, have long known of the annual cycle of the annual slug, and used it as a calendar sicne ancient times. Once an annual slug was found, it was observed closely each day, until its circle was known and its position could serve as a reference point. In addition to being a time-marker, the annual slug also held an important place in Hawaïian mythology, for in their eyes, it was a natural manifestation of the circle of life.