Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'animals'

The Wisdom of Deer

February 14th, 2014 · No Comments

When the Indonesian government looks back upon its handling of Mount Kelud’s latest eruption, it may lament its failure to heed a clue from the animal kingdom. Two days before the volcano began to belch its noxious contents, the critters that inhabited its slopes seemed to know that something was up: “We received reports from […]

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Sympathy for the Predator

March 13th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Here at Microkhan world headquarters, there are few things we admire more than passionate attention to detail, especially when it’s in the service of chronicling the arcane. And so you can imagine our joy upon encountering this awesomely comprehensive list of bygone mountain lion attacks, which does an excellent job of illustrating North America’s century-long […]

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The Pangolin’s Curse

January 4th, 2013 · 4 Comments

There are few environmental tragedies I find more puzzling than the decimation of the pangolin, a phenomenon recently covered by notable Microkhan ally Dan Morrison. Like rhino horns, pangolin scales are in high demand in Asian markets, primarily for medicinal and epicurean purposes. Yet there is little evidence that the scales work better than placebos, […]

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Wishful Milking

June 6th, 2011 · No Comments

If you’re the sort who follows the more bizarre tidbits to emerge from the world of agribusiness, you’ve probably noticed that there’s been quite a stir about camel milk as of late. The United Arab Emirates, for one, has vowed to take advantage of relaxed European Union regulations regarding the import of the offbeat dairy […]

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The Quinby Smoker

February 15th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Behind every mass-market product is an invention that made its creation cost-effective. In the case of honey, that technological marvel is the humble bellows smoker, which produces a non-toxic haze with the power to chill out agitated bees. It does so by messing with a colony’s communications system: Sentries are supposed to alert warriors to […]

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The Golden Age of Twice-Cooked Pork

February 2nd, 2011 · 2 Comments

Apologies to my vegetarian readers for what is about to commence: a post about the grisly business of producing pig meat, a delicacy that I seek out far more often than my arteries would like. (I will perform nearly any feat of self-abasement in exchange for some top-notch lechón.) Though I’m accustomed to reading about […]

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The Waning of Oxen

December 8th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Putting the finishing touches on a long-gestating major project this a.m., so just a quickie before I get back to ironing out some word-choice matters. The graph above comes from the much buzzed-about paper estimating that per-capita GDP in late Medieval England was around $1,000 in 1990 dollars—an estimate that, if accurate, would mean that […]

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Hogs and Dogs

July 19th, 2010 · No Comments

(Cross-posted from Ta-Nehisi Coates) There’s controversy brewing in southern Mississippi, where Jackson County recently approved a hog-dog bay. That’s an event in which a hunting dog corners a boar in a pen, to the ostensible delight of onlookers. To those who oppose the practice, it comes perilously close to an interspecies take on dogfighting; to […]

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Gladiators on Four Legs

March 26th, 2010 · 7 Comments

Though this seems obvious when you really think about it, there’s nothing like an objective report to drive the harsh reality home: modern horse racing makes NASCAR seem like knitting: Based upon a year’s worth of data beginning November 1, 2008, from 378,864 total starts in Thoroughbred flat races at 73 racetracks participating in the […]

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Even Nilgais Get the Blues

March 23rd, 2010 · 1 Comment

Nature just hasn’t seen fit to color many terrestrial animals blue, which is why the mere mention of the concept usually makes us think exclusively of fictional beasts. But as it turns out, blue bulls are rather common in India, and they have recently been causing serious problems: Led by Una district committee of Himachal […]

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That’s What You Get for Not Hailing to the Chimp

February 26th, 2010 · No Comments

We have never attempted to conceal our fascination with movies starring non-human primates. That quirk of our character shines through yet again in this week’s Bad Movie Friday installment, featuring the 1951 Ronald Regan vehicle Bedtime for Bonzo. Suffice to say that the trailer above makes us weep for the scientific literacy of Eisenhower Era […]

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Supply, Demand, and Pugilistic Marsupials

February 4th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Apologies for being late with this year’s obligatory Australia Day post. Though we’ve never had the pleasure of visiting the island continent ourselves, we’ve long enjoyed the company of Aussie compatriots—especially those we’ve encountered while roaming the far corners of the globe, since the Aussies always seem to know where the bar is. More importantly, […]

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The Arachnids Shall Inherit the Earth

February 2nd, 2010 · 2 Comments

One of our favorite barroom debates concerns which animal will become the planet’s dominant species once a comet, asteroid, or accidental release of sinister nanobots makes human civilization go the way of the Zastava Koral. The smart money’s usually on the cockroach, due to its alleged ability to survive a nuclear Armageddon. And no one […]

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“There’s a Female Up There Circling Mother Earth”

January 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

Not much time for Bad Movie Friday this week, as we’re scrambling on the Secret Major Project™. So this vintage anti-Soviet propaganda film about the travails of Laika will have to suffice. It gets really amazing around the 42-second mark, when one of Laika’s American peers dons granny glasses in order to peep the space-race […]

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Buried Whales, Cont’d

January 22nd, 2010 · 3 Comments

Our recent post about the hazards of whale burial attracted a celebrity commenter: Steve O’Shea of the Auckland University of Technology. Best known for his squid-hunting endeavors, O’Shea is also overseeing the research into the public-health consequences of interring beached whales. He takes us to school thusly: I can assure you that E. coli is […]

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Thorned Bonanza

January 19th, 2010 · 9 Comments

We’re certainly all for the Czech Republic’s willingness to step up to the plate and become a laboratory for drug-policy reform. But in their haste to craft decriminalization legislation that could kick in with the New Year, Czech lawmakers appear to have done a grave disservice to a rising agricultural sector: the cactus industry: A […]

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File Under “Illusions, Shattered”

January 14th, 2010 · 9 Comments

Whenever the stress of big-city living starts to wear us down—which seems to be happening an awful lot these days—we briefly fantasize about chucking it all in favor of life as a shepherd. We can trace this pipe dream back to our grade-school viewing of Fletch, in which Chevy Chase’s titular character facetiously replies “I’m […]

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Doing Away With the Veneer

December 3rd, 2009 · 8 Comments

Most authoritarians these days know better than to go the Papa Doc Duvalier route and declare themselves president-for-life. The occasional sham election does wonders in terms of keeping off the international heat, especially if your country is an important source of gas or bauxite. But Nursultan Nazarbayev seems to be seriously considering bucking the trend, […]

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Animal Rights in Lahore

December 1st, 2009 · 3 Comments

We shudder to think how PETA might react if the organization had access to Lahore’s bustling camel market, which buzzed with more activity than usual in the runup to Eid al-Adha: The camel traders who brought camels from different cities of southern Punjab and Sindh were sold like hotcakes on Friday evening. The traders too […]

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Twilight of the Panthers

November 23rd, 2009 · 2 Comments

It’s been a rough year for Florida’s official animal, as 15 percent of the state’s remaining wild panthers have perished (largely due to being hit by cars). Now comes particularly grisly news out of Yeehaw Junction: An anonymous caller reported seeing a dead Florida panther by the side of the Florida Turnpike near Yeehaw Junction. […]

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Stars and Stripes Pale in Comparison

November 10th, 2009 · 3 Comments

A pal of ours recently quipped that he’s always had a yen to visit Mozambique, albeit because he’s always dreamed of traversing the sandy beaches of the Bazaruto Archipelago. No, our friend is attracted to the nation for a single, simple reason: he digs flags that feature weapons, and Mozambique’s official banner certainly qualifies. Given […]

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Vincent van Guenon

November 3rd, 2009 · 2 Comments

The industry that exists to service laboratory primates is surprisingly vast. Our close genetic cousins can’t just live off kibble while caged, nor can their brains remain limber with nothing more than a hamster wheel to occupy their time. So companies like New Jersey’s Bio-Serv exist to peddle “primate enrichment” products designed to make captivity […]

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The Steakification of Blitzen

October 26th, 2009 · 5 Comments

The rapid warming of the Arctic may delight those keen on easier shipping, but it’s been nothing but terrible news for reindeer and their human overseers. On the Yamal Peninsula, the indigenous Nenet people are watching in horror as their precous herds break legs upon the gravel now popping up from the melted permafrost. And […]

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Casting With Disaster

October 15th, 2009 · 5 Comments

As we went digging into our pocket for some change this morning, we came up with a piece of currency sure to give the vending machine a case of indigestion: a 20 shilling coin from Kenya, a souvenir of our recent East African jaunt. Before tossing back the useless money in frustration, however, we noticed […]

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Counting the Jumbos

October 6th, 2009 · 2 Comments

While perusing this AFP piece about a poaching bust in the Central African Republic, we stopped and mumbled “hmmmmm” upon reading this hard-to-swallow stat: Experts say some 38,000 African elephants are killed each year for their tusks. Really? That seems like such a ridiculously high figure; at that clip, wouldn’t the species (or, to be […]

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Escape from Cat Island

September 29th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Back in March, we brought you news of mankind’s triumph over the rodent denizens of Rat Island, Alaska. Now comes word that many thousands of miles to the south, a veritable Cat Island (aka Wake Atoll) has been similarly scourged of its furry invaders (PDF): At the end of the second week in July, we […]

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Unwinged Pegasus

September 22nd, 2009 · No Comments

Via the invariably spectacular Ptak Science Books blog, a quick peek back at the brief heyday of airborne horses: “Sep 1850 English Aeronaut Gale on horseback suffocated Bordeaux”. Is this the first man-on-horseback-in-flight death? And death by suffocation? (?) I’m not so sure that the ascent records for 1850 would’ve made allowance for running out […]

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The Venom Trade, Cont’d

September 18th, 2009 · No Comments

In yesterday’s post on Pakistan’s troubled system of snake-venom collection, we opined that technology seemed to have changed the field little. But if we’d read the latest issue of the journal Toxicon, we wouldn’t have been so quick to make such blanket claims. Because as it turns out, a Florida cottonmouth researchers are blazing trails: […]

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Mortality as Morality, Cont’d

August 25th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Eleven days ago, we questioned whether it might be immoral to keep certain animals captive in zoos. Our hunch is that a species’ ability to thrive in a zoo is based not only on its physical needs, but also its intelligence—animals who become aware of the limits of their existence will certainly suffer psychological stresses […]

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Mortality as Morality

August 14th, 2009 · 4 Comments

We’ve yet to fully sort out our feelings about zoos. On the one hand, we obviously love us some exotic animals, especially those who occasionally turn on Man. (Yes, we’re macabre like that.) But the concept of captivity makes us more than a wee bit uncomfortable; we’ll never forget our last trip to the Bronx […]

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