Al Gore’s politically correct culte verte really has nothing to do with science, but it continues to fill the slender science sections of our mainstream media outlets. Thankfully we find the news this week loaded with the results of actual scientific inquiry. Our task here at Totally Political Science is to find the intersection of politics and science and report them without poking our tongues through our cheeks.
The National Science Foundation released a fascinating report on the discovery of the remains of an enormous prehistoric snake:
Scientists have recovered fossils from a 60-million-year-old South American snake whose length and weight might make today's anacondas seem like garter snakes.
Named Titanoboa cerrejonensis by its discoverers, the size of the snake's vertebrae suggest it weighed 1,140 kilograms (2,500 pounds) and measured 13 meters (42.7 feet) nose to tail tip. http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=114112
Now that’s a snake, son! An ophidian this large would barely fit through your office door and laying flat, would stand hip-high to the average man. To determine just how these ancient reptiles became so huge, scientists turned to an examination of the earth’s temperature 60 million years ago when this behemoth still slithered the earth:
Scientists have long known of a rough correlation between a period or epoch's temperature and the size of its poikilotherms [cold-blooded creatures]," said Paul Filmer, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Earth Sciences, which co-funded the research. "As Earth's temperature increases, so does the upper size limit on poikilotherms." (ibid)
Researchers determined that the earth’s mean temperature must have been 7-10 degrees warmer back during Super-slinky’s hey-day. There was no correlation found in this report between the earth’s current slightly increasing temperature (reportedly 1 degree hotter in the last century http://news.cnet.com/Earths-temperature-at-400-year-high/2100-11395_3-6087108.html and the rapid expansion in girth of the world’s largest pork-ilotherm, Al Gore. There was neither any conjecture in the report regarding the selection of the Latin term, titanoboa cerrejonensis for the ancient basilisk http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilisk. It would seem more fitting that we name it after the biggest snake currently thriving on our planet: and Giganaconda chuckschumerensis really has a certain ring to it.
Moving up what the Darwinists call the evolutionary ladder in the news, we find a report regarding the order Chiroptera http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat, specifically the rodent- like flying mammals we refer to commonly as bats. A scourge is ravaging the caved communities of bats hibernating in northern New York and Vermont. The creepy little critters are dying off in droves. Scientists are puzzling out the cause:
The most obvious symptom involved in the die-off is a white fungus encircling the noses of some, but not all, of the bats.
Bat with white nose syndrome (Photo courtesy West Virginia Association for Cave Studies)
Called "white nose syndrome," the fungus is believed to be associated with the problem, but it may not contribute to the actual cause of death. (http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2008/2008-01-31-094.asp)
The disease has thus far been affecting primarily four species of bats:
Indiana bats, a state and federally endangered species, are perhaps the most vulnerable….Eastern pipistrelle, northern long-eared and little brown bats are also dying. Little brown bats, the most common hibernating species in the state, have sustained the largest number of deaths. (ibid)
Therein lies the expected rub. Reports suggest that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright has gotten wind of the near epidemic and is suspicious of the origins of the disease: “Just like the CIA helped distribute cocaine and crack in the inner cities to powder the noses of young black men, now those same powerful forces are dusting up the noses of Chiroptero-Americans-especially the little brown ones!”
No word yet on whether Wright or his doppelganger the Reverend Al Sharpton are planning demonstrations at the mouths of New York caves. Both ministers are thought to be consulting with former Washington D.C. Mayor, Marion Barry, Jr. to strategize. Barry is, of course, an expert in the field of nasally ingested powdery substances.
Finally, from the European insect world (pardon the redundance), we find a study demonstrating how a cagey species of caterpillar gains the royal treatment from ant colonies by mimicking the noises made by their queen:
Ants of the species Myrmica schencki can be fooled into carrying certain caterpillars into the colony nurseries where the fakers enjoy full care and five-star dining, explains Jeremy Thomas of the University of Oxford in England. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/40606/title/Caterpillar_noise_tricks_ants_into_service_
This caterpillar-with-ant-queen-microphone shtick is so convincing to the worker ants, that the imposters are given treatment preferable to that given their own species:
Queen-mimicry could explain the VIP treatment caterpillars receive in the ant colony. “Quite often they’re treated as superior beings,” Thomas says. In a crisis, worker ants rescue caterpillars before a regular ant brood. And in famine, workers will kill their own brood and feed it to the caterpillar. Ibid
This type of behavior, when exhibited in supposedly more highly evolved species, would help explain the results of the 2008 American Presidential election. The Democrat candidate, Barack Obama, by making sounds that worker (and should-be working) humans interpreted as the sounds of their leaders, gave Obama preferential treatment (especially in the media) and protection from the vicissitudes of having to actually demonstrate his ability to do anything. Just making the right noises was all that was required for Obama to secure the American homo sapiens equivalent of the ant-queen’s throne.
Investigation of the methods of sound production for the comparative species is particularly enlightening:
Advances in miniature electronics made the new study possible. Specially built ant-scale microphones and speakers allowed researchers to record both queen and worker ants under normal conditions and then play back the noises and observe ant behavior.
To a human ear, queens and caterpillars don’t sound at all similar, Thomas warns. Yet ants perceive noises differently, picking up vibrations with sensors in the legs. Ibid
This revelation helps explain the Chris Mathews “tingle up my leg” syndrome, experienced each time the Hardball anchor hears Barack Obama speak. Little did we know that this syndrome was just an evolutionary throwback to the response of an ancestral species to communicable chicanery. One wonders just how many Obamaniacs are still interpreting the messages from the New President femurally.
That’s all we have this week from the realm of ants, bats, snakes and Democrats. Look for more Totally Political Science next week on these same pages.