HDH: Quolls pass training test

15 04 2010

This weeks Hump Day Happy via DaveTheHappySinger

Cane toads were a bad idea. A very bad idea. An insanely bad idea. But anyway, Australia is now stuck with rampaging toxic amphibians threatening almost all our native wildlife. Amongst those threatened are native carnivores. Aside from birds and snakes, there is a whole range of little superficially rodent-looking marsupials, and quolls.

Quolls are awesome. Just from having an awesome name like “Quoll” (and providing more ‘q’ words in scrabble). They aren’t wimpy like “possums” and “sugar gliders”, these critters eat MEAT. Sadly, toads are made from meat, so quolls will naturally try to to eat toads. And then they die. Which is sad.

So the happy news at ABC is that scientists at University of Sydney have been successfully training small groups of quolls to resist the urge to eat cane toads using aversion therapy. The quolls were exposed to small toads sprayed with a nauseating compound which made trying to eat the delicious grenouilles quite unappealing.

“The toad was hopping around. It looked like something good to eat, but once they sniffed it they got that signal saying, ‘Hey, we’re not good to eat’ and they ignored it.” – Dr. Jonathan Webb

A video of the training process is also up on the ABC.

When released into the wild and monitored, trained quolls had higher survival rates than untrained quolls.

The scientists hope that toad training can be initiated ahead of the toad invasion front, so that by the time the toads reach that area the quolls (and other animals) no better than to try and eat one.

The actual scientific article can be found at the Journal of Applied Ecology (you’ll need a Wiley InterScience subscription) DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01802.x

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That’s no energy drink

31 08 2009

Please tell me this was made up for the Russian Tabloid.

A 14-year-old Chinese boy in Szechuan Province thought that the best way to be like his idolized transformer heroes was to start drinking petrol every day for five years.

A 14-year-old boy, from the town of Yibin in Sichuan, first saw the animated saga about robots from outer space – able to transform into vehicles, electronic items or weapons – when he was nine years old.

The youngster was so impressed that he began drinking fuel on a daily basis to “obtain energy” and become a mighty warrior like the Transformers.

He started out with lighter fuel, then upgraded to siphoning gas from his parent’s motorcycle. When his parents locked that up, he started stealing from neighbours.

Sadly (but not unsurprising), the young boy did not develop the superpowers he was looking for, and instead appears to have damaged his brain.

Honestly, does this make any sense? I don’t remember transformers actually requiring fuel? I thought they  ran on sunlight, or nuclear, or the energy released during the reduction of children into mindless consumers.





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18 08 2009

And they think it’s just one big joke.

Crackie the dolphin Read the rest of this entry »





There are 6.8 billion reasons why holistic organic tofu farming won’t take off

4 08 2009

You may remember I offhandedly posted a link to a new hard-hitting piece of environmnetal investigative journalism “Food Inc” back ago. You can read a bit more about it at ERV (Her non-judgemental words: “a new movie bitching about GMOs and food production in the US”).

Unsurprisingly the US meat/livestock/poultry industries have put together a debunking website: safefoodinc.org which includes an enlightening myths & facts section.





Laboratory lettuce

16 06 2009

Let’s break off from our Pharming exploits to look at some Farming exploits.

With more evidence that the future is now, Japan is looking to set up domestic “vegetable factories” to provide clean, safe and nutritious food for all.

The boom in intensive hydroponics has been attributed to fear of tainted imported fresh foods in the wake a of a few scandals.

Some industries you wouldn’t expect are even getting in on the act (the BBC video may look irrelevant but it’s not)

[I’ve popped the video below the line because for some reason it is stuck on autoplay] Read the rest of this entry »





Graphic violence

5 06 2009

funny pictures
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