Mysterious Bangkok deaths solved?

Bangkokians fall to their deaths from high-rise apartments with some regularity. These incidents are often ascribed to suicidal impulses, the next most popular hypothesis being accident, as in, “Wow! Look at that moon—it’s almost like you could reach out and touch…”

But read on, because I have a new, improved theory. Recently, in fact, I myself almost fell victim to an especially devious homicide attempt.

A couple of myna birds have taken to nesting in a cozy niche outside my … Read more

Fable with parasites II: Owl of Minerva flies at the turn of the worm

Does Fate reflect a wormish agenda? We looked at aspects of this question in the last two posts. Read on for even more sinister developments.

Once upon a time within some dimension or another, a species of worm with an interesting civilization embraced a complex body of beliefs, not all of them consistent with one another, but that is in the nature of things.

Their consciousness, if we may call it such, was a collective phenomenon; taken individually, these worms … Read more

Fable with parasites I: Bravery lies in the brain of the beholder

When neural parasites meet global warming: Trouble for all of us may be brewing on a remote uncharted island.

Who’s driving the bus, human beings or their parasites? From a manuscript found under a bed:

Let us visit an outlying island that must remain nameless. It is only uncertainly part of a tiny outlying archipelago, itself only uncertainly part of Indonesia which, with some 17,000 islands, is the largest archipelago nation in the world. This island barely breaks the surface … Read more

Who’s driving the bus? Parasites rool, OK!

I’ve recently suggested that parasites can be our friends, with special reference to Bill the Mathematician’s quest to become infected with hookworm.

Now I see a member of the Bangkok Writers’ Guild has posted a reference to a story I’d filed some time ago among notes regarding neuro-parasites (“Zombie ants have fungus on the brain”).

Tropical carpenter ants (Camponotus leonardi) live high up in the rainforest canopy. When infected by a parasitic fungus (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis) the

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Our friend the hookworm


Bill the Mathematician—yes, that’s Bill of the unaccountably broken back—is not always fully recognized as the trendsetter he really is. Right now he’s in Phnom Penh, on his way to the Pasteur Institute to ask for a dose of hookworm larvae. “I thought I’d found a source yesterday,” he tells me, “as PP now has a National Parasitological Center. But somehow they can’t help because ‘it’s time for exams.’ But they did suggest I try L’Institut Pasteur, so I’ll … Read more

Big bird brains rool, OK!

Excessive cogitation causes canary brains to explode, providing much entertainment for small children.

And so it goes. First it was African gray parrots demonstrating they were smarter than elephants. (See video.)

Then it was crows and their ilk displaying foresight and tool-making skills. (Click on photo.)

Now we’ve got bait-fishing herons.

From The Scientist

 

Bait use in birds

After reviewing the literature, researchers concluded bait fishing by certain species of herons is a real and distinct behavior. Bait

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