The Reason Most Cats Adore Cat Nip

Catnip is a perennial herb which is a member of the mint family, specifically the species of the genus Nepeta (pronounced “nah-pee-tah”) in the family Lamiaceae (pronounced “lah-me-yay-see-aye”). The chemical compound in the nepeta cataria plant which attracts and affects felines is nepetalactone (pronounced “nah-pee-tal-ack-tone”). Nepetalactone is indigenous to Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and parts of China. When cats consume catnip orally the compound acts as a sedative, but when inhaled for its scent, it causes short bursts of hyperactivity. Nepetalactone is extracted via steam distillation and acts as a natural mosquito and fly repellent. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that leopards, cougars, and various species of lynx often react to catnip in a similar manner to their domestic house cat cousins, whilst lions and tigers may react strongly, but may also have little or no reaction whatsoever. 33% of cats are unaffected by catnip with the behavior theorized to be hereditary in nature. In 1962, it was discovered that susceptibility to catnip may be directly related to the Mendelian-dominant gene. Other plants can have similar effects upon felines including the roots and leafs of the valerian plant, silver vine which is sometimes referred to as “matatabi”, and Tatarian honeysuckle wood. Cats who do not respond to nepeta cataria are more likely to respond to one, some, or all of these alternatives plants. In addition to its use with cats, nepeta cataria is also a popular ingredient in herbal tisanes and teas, and is highly valued for its sedative and relaxant properties”

The Harvard University Hope Experiment

During the 1950’s, Dr. Curt Richter from Harvard University performed a series of experiments using water, buckets, and both domesticated and wild rats which resulted in a surprising discovery within the field of psychology. In the first experiment, Richter placed his test subjects into large buckets half filled with water with even those rats which were considered above average swimmers, giving up and dying within a few short minutes. In the second experiment, Richter pulled each rat out just as it was about to give up due to exhaustion and let them rest for a few moments. Upon inserting the rats back into the bucket of water, Richter found that the rats continued to struggle to survive for up to 60 hours as the rats now believed that if they continued to push forward with enough effort put forth, eventually they would be rescued once again. Richter recorded in his notes, “after elimination of hopelessness, the rats do not die”

The Chinese Political Practice of Panda Diplomacy

The Chinese government have a practice referred to as “panda diplomacy” which is designed to provide other nations with pandas, which are impossible to ascertain outside of China. China offers the gift of a panda or pandas to nations which it wishes to have strong diplomatic or economic ties with and is considered a high honor amongst world leaders as not many have received this gift and gesture of good will. Ownership is not permanent as China only leases pandas, it does not relinquish them outright. As of 2019, 27 zoos in 22 countries or territories currently feature pandas on loan from China including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Hong Kong, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S.. The concept of panda diplomacy is not a new one as evidence of the practice dates back to the Tang Dynasty, when Empress Wu Zetian sent a pair of pandas to Emperor Tenmu of Japan in 685 A.D.

The Evolutionary Reason Human Beings Seek Violence and Conflict

Whilst observing chimpanzees in the wild, Jane Goodall noticed her observed chimpanzee community beginning to divide amongst itself, with some members choosing to spend more time in the northern region of the jungle and others in the south. By separating themselves, these chimpanzees inherently relinquished their right to be recognized as part of their previous clan. This once seemingly peaceful community began to become heavily engaged within primitive warfare and conflict, with the entire community which had moved south annihilated into oblivion by their northern counterparts. Goodall stated upon record that it took her considerable time to reconcile this brutality, as she had always thought of chimpanzees akin to human beings however better, kinder, and gentler. Goodall believed that conflict was a human invention, but eventually realized and accepted that the dark and cruel side of human nature was deeply embedded within the human genome and inherited from primate ancestors. It is most probable that a propensity for brutality, violence, and conflict has been hard coded into human beings genetically, at the fundamental level of deoxyribonucleic acid which create proteins, which produce neurons, and subsequently unique neural traits, such as a propensity for violence behavior(s). It would be advantageous for evolution to have evolved such traits because if a person (or animal) is being attacked, the ability to fight back with deadly force is expediently beneficial. This is believed by most scientists to be the reason why such traits have evolved within human beings. It should be noted, prior to Goodall’s work, scientists had no knowledge of chimpanzees engaging in warfare and/or hunting practices, which makes her work groundbreaking and revolutionary to say the least as it provides unique introspective into human behavior(s)

The Evolution of Primitive and Sophisticated Neural Networks

neural-network

The human brain has 100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion) connections and 86,000,000,000 (86 billion) neurons, which is more connections and neurons than there are stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. Ironically, the majority of the most successful creatures on Earth do not have a brain; organisms like plants, coral, and jellyfish. The sea squirt is a primary example as it has just 200 neurons, allowing it only to perceive and display simple interaction with the environment by sensing light and moving its flagellum. The sea squirt moves around until it finds a rock, then it dumps its tail and uses those once dedicated neurons for different applications, staying anchored to this spot for the rest of its life. Neurons were originally designed to allow for simple motion and movement, but as evolution progressed steadily, neural networks began to build and design intelligent life which is capable of consciousness and a sense of self but also more abstract concepts like art, mathematics, and science

The Social Conventions of Hyenas

hyena

Hyenas have a fairly complicated social structure in that they make kills as a team, consume their prey in groups, and then regurgitate that food when back at their base camp, not only for the pups who are waiting for them but also for those who stay back to act as care takers for the youngest members of the pack. Hyenas appear to truly understand the all for one and one for all mentality that only a few primates comprehend and exercise

The Scientific Study of Consciousness After Decapitation In Rodents

laboratory-rat

Brainwave activity in laboratory rats has been measured after decapitation. Scientists have determined that the brain stays conscious for 4 seconds after decapitation. Laboratory rat brain cells could theoretically start working again if intervention is quick enough supplying the brain with adequate oxygen and glucose

The Colossal Nomura Jellyfish

nomura-jellyfish

Nomura jellyfish are colossal in size, weighing up to 450 lbs. and measuring 12’ in circumference. Nomura jellyfish directly follow and stalk their prey just as box jellyfish do, with a single Nomura jellyfish able to consume an entire Olympic swimming pool sized body of water filled with zooplankton within 24 hours. When both male and female Nomura jellyfish are attacked, both instantly release all of their sperm and eggs, producing and scattering millions of possible future offspring. This is why despite being killed in the hundreds and thousands by fisheries on the open seas, Nomura jellyfish continue to thrive and dominate much of the ocean. Currently, it is unclear to scientists where Nomura jellyfish originate from

The Importance of the Diatom to the Earth

diatom

4x thinner than a human hair, the diatom is the secret to the Earth’s oxygen supply. Diatoms utilize silica from ground up rock to create new shells which allow them to reproduce. The population of the diatom doubles every single day during their reproduction cycle. Each diatom can perform the process of photosynthesis and provide the world with oxygen as a byproduct, enough oxygen in fact that 1 out of every 2 breaths taken in by every living human being has been created entirely by diatoms. Diatoms aren’t only vital when they are alive, they’re also incredibly important after their deaths because their carcasses slowly fall to the ocean floor and then carpet the ocean floor in a layer 800 meter thick. This phenomenon is often referred to as “marine snow”

The Connection Between Parrot Fish and Sand

beach-sand

On some beach islands in the Maldives, as much as 70% of all sand comes from the excrement of parrot fish. Parrot fish primarily consume coral which is composed of calcium carbonate and causes their excrement to become white sand. A single parrot fish can eat enough coral to expel 1 tonne of sand within a single year