Madagascar, Lemur Center, Beaver Lake discussed on Science Friday

Science Friday


Some people say it's on a ball and socket joint but technically it is very very flexible joint that basically doesn't keep the tendon going in one direction like ours does so it can bend sideways either way and it can also bend backwards and that finger is ideal if you like to eat bugs and grubs out of trees so they will chew in with the beaver lake teeth that the person nominated the mentioned and then they will get inside of wood and scoop out whatever grubber bugged. They want to eat with that amazing tapping finger speaking of delicious meals. That a creature might eat. I feel like going back to the opossums. A lot of people may associate opossums with trash for lack of a better term. Because they're scavengers right. I mean what is the life of an apostle like they are scavengers but they're also predators they're also forager's i call them the generalist of generalists. So you'll get mammal species where you know across the southeast shore. They eat a lot of different things that individuals will specialize or the front one particular thing they want to eat. You look at just one opossums stomach content. So that's really showing what they ate in a day or two. It's just an entire evolutionary tree. Birds plants slugs mice grasshoppers unit. They've eaten it. I think they get the bad rap that they're associated you trash because they're in our environment and you know they have really don't get noses they can pick up everything on issues throughout some tasty food. They will be there but that's not going to be the only thing they're eating and i also have a hypothesis that i needed to test. I think they're also yields in the trash cans as dens. I think they get a bad rap because occasionally there in a trash can get that picture taken and it becomes a medium. Just is all downhill from there for possums. Megan is our so funky looking. What is their family structure like. Is that something that might be a charismatic point. Absolutely and i. I would challenge folks to look up. Pictures of baby is particularly. Those low. Lived here at the duke. Lemur center repent some very good-looking babies in recent years. I'd argue that. A lot of primate babies look funky no offence to anyone out there so with Baby care is our primate so by nature. They're going to have a really strong relationship with their baby. They tend to have one infant at a time. Maybe twins but that's more rare And they will spend years teaching that baby. Primates like is an humans are born with notoriously few instincts. We need to learn a lot from our parents in order to survive and so mom spends a lot of time with them. My favorite thing. That baby is due. Besides all the other normal he'd step of playing with mom and surprising her is when they're learning what they can eat and what they can't eat they will literally just walk up to their mom and grab the food of her mouth and learn. Oh that's something that i eat by just stealing it out of mums now. I feel like an elephant in the room. Here is that is really look. Unlike any thing. I've ever seen before some people not me but some people may say that they look a little creepy and that i hear is the source of some myths in their native ranges. Is that right. Yes it can be so it's interesting our recent understanding of the malagasy peoples. So that the people who live in madagascar and their view is another. Lemurs is evolving as we learn more about how diverse those people are so for a little background. Madagascar's home to over twenty seven million people. So that's a lot of people to summarize beliefs on animals and a recent study that came out with the malagasy scientists in german scientists actually found that even two villages that are within a day's walk of each other might have vastly different views. On the i saw in one village. They might find people who see them as an evil omen there even some held beliefs. Still to this day. That is if they're seeing they will bring evil might even involve killing the i to protect their village but on the other side less than a day's walk away. They found people who actually saw the is as a form of pest control because they were growing things like sugar cane and is to the grubs and bugs that invest their plans and so it really varied but the overall trend was not surprising just like everywhere else in the world. The more ecological knowledge biological knowledge came in lower the rate of the superstitions and the cultural taboos against the animal. But i would just caution. Everyone not to think that everyone and madagascar has the same view just like everyone in the. Us doesn't either staying on this morbid theme for a moment. I know that opossums have a flair for the dramatic particularly playing dead. Why do they do that. How does it work. I love my dramatic steffi species we are not entirely sure why it's involuntary. He equate it to a human fainting. So it's not something you want to do. But it's essentially fainting out of fear and opossums. It seems to really happen with touch so if dog is running at them as soon as the dog actually reaches them. That's they kilo earn their on their side mouth hanging open. You know like the biggest smile except it's kind of different actually looks like a smile. It salivating when that happens is stay. Open it defecates. It releases this foul green liquid from its anal glands. So it's doing everything possible to not be eat. Studies show that their heart rate and a brain activity is an actual changing so again similar to painting but it can take them a few minutes up to an hour to recover and i think the issue is if you like. Oh no. I'm so sorry possum you are going after your dog. Who just chased after this As you touch it than it just prolongs their feigning death. What an argument for the charismatic. But it's an important thing to mention just a quick note that i'm kathleen davis and this is science friday from wnyc studios. We have just about reached the end of our time here. But i need to ask both of you to give me your best final arguments for your creatures. Why does your creature deserve to be crowned the most charismatic of this matchup. Meghan why don't you go. First with the i i will so i want to start by saying. I'm so glad both of these creatures are being featured but obviously i'm team i i think what edges them into the top for me is that they're just so incredibly unique they don't fit into the same old other primates. They don't fit into the same old as other. Lemurs they have all these incredibly unique things about them and their solitary really hard to find in the wild. So there's still so much more that we can learn about them that we don't even know yet and so i would argue that all of those factors together Just make them kind of a modern day mystery. That makes them fascinating and worthy of the title or at lisa. It's your turn now. What is your closing argument for. The oh possum. There are over one hundred capacity season the americas that we have one that made it all the way up into temperate north america and so. This is a really unique feces. They're very hardy and they are also resistant to rattlesnake venom. And we recently discovered that if sham uv. Light on possums. They were glow pink. In terms of charismatic mammals marsupials are largely under study especially american marsupials are so understudied and up until recently have been largely maligned. There is a new year's eve. Possum drop in north carolina up until nineteen. I think so they get really bad. Raps for just kinda look different and being different of the only marsupial in the us okay. Do you think that we've heard enough for our listeners. To choose their favourite charismatic creature of the day. I think we got pretty comprehensive arguments. And i think listeners have a pretty difficult choice ahead of them where can vote so listeners can go to science friday dot com slash carnival to cast their vote for which creature they think is the most charismatic. That's.

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