Index to the Snail's Tales boxcar graffiti pictures
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 18:50
Last weekend at Belt Woods, I walked thru a section of the reserve that was clear-cut several years ago. The forest has since been regenerating, but the appearance of the forest was so different than that of the old-growth section where the trees are believed to have never been cut that I decided to post pictures here.
The first picture shows the regenerating 2nd growth forest.
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 13:48
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 17:49
Dispersal of the proverbially slow land snails over suitable habitats is an interesting topic. Whilst the ranges of some species, such as Zoogenetes harpa, naturally extend across several continents, others are restricted to smaller areas.
Yesterday, I read a short paper by Baur and Baur titled "Dispersal of the land snail Helicigona lapicida in an abandoned limestone quarry" (Malak. Abh. 24:135-139, 2006).
The authors released 300 marked adult snails of the said species in a limestone quarry and then monitored the dispersal of those snails over a 2-year period. Although the recovery rates of the marked snails were low, 16.7% after 1 year and 4.0% after 2 years, the results do provide a general estimate of how far and how quickly this species disperses.
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 15:05
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Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 14:56
I am not Moslem. But because I am originally from a predominantly Moslem country and because I have a Turkish name, as opposed to, say, a Jewish or Armenian name, people who don't know me (and sometimes those who know me) often assume that I am Moslem. I also eat pig meat occasionally.
Several years ago I had a Palestinian colleague at work who was a devout Moslem. And to my annoyance, he assumed I was one too. One year during Ramadan, he showed up in my office with a Ramadan calendar that he wanted to give me as a gift. I figured it would be rude to reject his gift, but at the same time if I had accepted it would have only reinforced his self-formed opinion about my being a Moslem. And who knows what else he had in mind? I refused the calendar, he insisted that I take it, I refused, he insisted. Finally, he gave up and left.
Some time passed. It was now December and the office was having the annual holiday party. I went to the room where all the good foods where and got in line. The Palestinian guy was next to me in the line. I looked at the table and saw that they had the usual cold cuts of turkey, roast beef and ham. So, I decided to shake this guy up a bit. When it was my turn I announced my culinary choice rather loudly: "I think I will have some ham today!" I noticed the Palestinian guy glancing at me briefly as I was reaching out for the ham. He never bothered me with his calendars again.
In 1842 some Polish refugees were given a small bit of land in the Ottoman Empire to the east of Istanbul, where they erected a village. To this day the village is known as Polonezköy, which means "Polonez Village" and sounds as if the residents are Polynesian rather than Polish.
The village is now a tourist attraction with several good restaurants. Last July when we were in Istanbul, my cousin Mete took me and Tim Pearce there one day for lunch (and for snail collecting afterwards in the surrounding forests). We had been eating Turkish food for 2 weeks, so I wanted to try some Polish food, something that I don't get to eat often. Besides the usual borscht soup, the menu had only 2 Polish sounding entries. The name of one of them also had the word "pork" (spelled as it would be in English) in it. When I inquired about it, the first thing the waiter did was to warn me that it had pig meat in it.
The borscht soup was fine, but the "pig" meat, which was in the form of some sort of stew, was tough and chewy. I didn't quite like it, but finished it nevertheless. Later, when I complained to the waiter about it, he said (in Turkish, of course) "Oh, that's because that wasn't a farm grown pig, that was a wild boar". Apparently wild boars are quite common in the nearby woods and they are hunted down for the Polish restaurants.
I llike good ham, but I don't think I will eat wild boar meat again.
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 19:45
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Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 20:51
Last Sunday, 15 October, was philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s birthday (in 1844). Nietzsche, one of the most influential thinkers of the last few centuries, is best known for the statement "God is dead" from an 1882 book.
More information on Nietzsche and his works is available at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Wikipedia and Freethought of the Day.
In a brief comment I recently left at Natalie Bennett’s blog Philobiblon, I stated my opinion that the apparent power of religion in the U.S. is more of a manifestation of its “death struggle” than anything else.
Today, Reuters is reporting that several books with atheistic themes have recently been in the best-seller lists in the U.S. (Of course, with the usual and "mandatory" idiotic defense of religion, this time offered by a Timothy Larsen.)
Have we finally come to a turning point?
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 09:13
While visiting the Delaware Museum of Natural History (DMNH) last Friday, I had a chance for a peek at an exhibit on ice-age mammals that was to open Saturday. Included in the exhibit were remains of mammoths and mastodons, extinct relatives of modern elephants, that lived in North America until the end of the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago.
Besides the familiar mammoths etc., there was one other group of animals that I had never seen or heard of before: shoveltuskers. The picture below shows the lower jaw of one shoveltusker. Look at the size of that thing relative to the TV screen on the upper lefthand corner.
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 14:50
After almost a year-long break, I resumed my survey of the land snails of Belt Woods, possibly the only tract of old growth forest left in eastern Maryland. (Previous posts on Belt woods are here and here.) The trees in an approximately 45-acre section of Belt Woods are believed to have never been cut. Yesterday, I spent about 3 hours there looking for snails.
Snail shells and the egg shells of most snail species are made out of calcium carbonate. That means that snails need calcium in their diet. In forests of eastern U.S. where there are no limestone or marble rocks and the soil is low in calcium, the snails get some, if not most, of their calcium by eating other snails' shells.
One common species that I have frequently found in the process of eating empty snail shells is Ventridens ligera. I encountered 2 such individuals yesterday. On both occasions, the snails were in damp, loose soil under pieces of wood or tree bark. The first V. ligera (picture below) had consumed most of the body whorl of the partially empty shell of another V. ligera. The red arrows point at the remaining jagged edges of the body whorl.
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 14:50
Today I was at the Delaware Museum of Natural History (DMNH) in Wilmington, Delaware. I spent most of my time working in their library. But the highlight of the day was when Jean Woods, the curator of birds, took me to see the "beetle room".
This is where they keep millions of hungry dermestid beetles that could devour an adult human in less than 5 minutes. Well, okay, I am exaggerating a little bit. They use the beetles, especially their larvae, to clean animal carcasses, especially those of birds, so the bones can be added to the museum's collection. The beetles were in a large box that you can see in the picture below.
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 23:00
Whilst exploring the muddy banks* of Little Seneca Lake, I came upon a couple of peculiar prints in the mud. Here is a photo of one.
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 15:09
Whilst deleting some old e-mails this morning, I found one from November 2000 that had this joke in it. It is stil funy (viz apologis to ur German frinds).
To : All members of Her Majesty's Government
In accordance with popular opinion throughout Britain, but to the surprise of some of our foreign neighbours, the commissioners for European Union have recently announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the accepted language for European communications rather than German, the other language which had been under consideration. This is seen as a great boost for our country.
As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government did concede that on occasion the English spelling had some room for improvement and a five-year phased plan has been accepted for the introduction of what will become known as EuroEnglish (Euro for short).
In the first year the letter "s" will be used instead of the soft "c". Sertainly, sivil servants will reseive this news with joy. Also the hard "c" will be replased by the letter "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typists akross the kountry will be delighted as keyboards kan have one less letter.
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" kombination will be replased by the letter "f". This will make words like "fotograf" twenty per sent shorter.
In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to get to the stage where more komplikated amendments are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters, as these have always been a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre, that the horible mes of silent "e"s in the languag is disgrasful and they wil be exterminated.
By the fourth year the new vision wil be klose to fulfilment when the "th" kombination is replasd by the leter "z", "w" is replasd by "v" or "m" depending on sirkumstanses and "qu" by ze easier to pronouns "kv". By zen peopl vil aksept mizout kvestion ze final steps.
During ze fifz year ze unesesary "o" vill be dropd from vords kontaining "ou", and similar zings vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.
By ze end of ze fifz yer ven ze master plan is komplet, al pepol vill be hapy mit zis vay of speaking and riting and ve vil hav a ruzlesly efisiant languag and riten styl. Zer vill be no trubl or difikultis und evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ozers.
Ze drem vil finaly kum tru and ve kan say mizout kvestion zat ve hav vays of making yu talk.
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 19:45
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 11:43
Sprattia is a genus of land snails (family Clausiliidae) endemic to southern Turkey. The genus was named after the British Admiral T. Spratt who visited southern Turkey in the 1840s and collected the snail shells that were later used by the German malacologists Pfeiffer and Boettger to describe many new species and genera (for example: Boettger, O. 1883. On new Clausiliae from the Levant, collected by vice-admiral T. Spratt. Proceedings of Zoological Society, London 324-343.)
At the last revision 8 species were known (Nordsieck, H. 2004. Stuttgarter Beitr. Naturk. Ser. A, Nr. 670:1-28). Without going into a discussion of the taxonomic standings of all those subspecies Nordsieck seems so fond of describing, the map below presents the approximate known range of every taxa.
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 11:06
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 20:28
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 18:17
I am not too fond of flying, but one thing about flying that I do enjoy is the opportunity to take pictures of landmarks from airplane windows and the challenge to try to identify them later.
Here is a shot I took last June as my flight from Washington D.C. was approaching the JFK Airport in New York from the Sea.
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 13:34
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 00:06
The intertidal snail Batillaria minima was the subject of a post back in June. Long-time readers of this blog may recall that deep retractibility of land snails into their shells and the resulting conclusion that they build oversized shells have been the subjects of several posts (for example, here).
While photographing B. minima one day last June, I also tested their retractibility into their shells. During that process, I noticed that many snails had repair scars on their body whorls. This observation led to a quick study, which has just been published in No. 14 of Triton, the Journal of the Israel Malacological Society. You can download the pdf version from here.
In summary, the study demonstrated is that some B. minima survive the attacks of a predator, because the snails can withdraw to a position about a quarter of a whorl behind their apertures, which is possible because they have oversized shells. This led to a more general conclusion:
"From an evolutionary point of view, a snail would build an oversized shell only if the protection and other possible advantages offered by such a shell compensate for the extra time, energy and material required to build and maintain it. In B. minima, the vital antipredatory function of the oversized shell provides the necessary
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 11:14
Once I was swimming cross turtle creek
Man them snappers all around my feet
Sure was hard swimming cross that thing
with both hands holding my ding-a-ling-a-ling
Chuck Berry, My Ding-A-Ling
Posted by AYDIN ÖRSTAN at 10:05