guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 18th, 2017 11:00 pm)

Pallas Cat_7


One of these guard cats only tells lies. The other only tells lies as well.


Basically, cats don’t care about your petty human concept of “truth”.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 18th, 2017 06:01 pm)

Prairie Dog_5


“Thou wilt be throng’d to shortly.”




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 18th, 2017 02:01 pm)

Porcupine_1


Porcupine that just downloaded the Shazam app and is realizing that it is of no use whatsoever in identifying the plaintful music that he hears in his dreams, echoing strains of melody like tendrils holding his mind hostage until the wee hours of the morning yawn and spread wide to welcome the day.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 17th, 2017 11:00 pm)

Pallas Cat_6


Pallas cat kittens are not all equally brave.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 17th, 2017 06:00 pm)

Meerkat_6


And then he got him to a rock aloft,

Where having spied her tower, long stared he on’t,

And prayed the narrow toiling Hellespont

To part in twain, that he might come and go;

But still the rising billows answered, “No.”




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 17th, 2017 02:00 pm)

Giant River Otter_56


Giant river otters play in the water just like small ones.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 16th, 2017 11:01 pm)

Wombat


The wombat enclosure at the LA Zoo is kept so dark that it is almost impossible to see anything. For those who follow such things, this show was a 1/6 of a second exposure at f/3.3 and ISO 12,800. I am optimistic that my newer experiments with low light photography will allow me to do better the next time I visit.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 16th, 2017 08:34 pm)

Dead Tree_1


Some people are taking civil war erasure a bit too far.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 16th, 2017 06:01 pm)

Short Nosed Echidna_20


The echidna is a monotreme like the platypus. They can be found in some zoos but, with them being very nocturnal, it can be very hard to get good photos of them. I lucked out that on this one day, there were two of them just wandering around as if they didn’t know it was daytime.


Now I just need to photograph three more species of echidna and a platypus and I’ll have collected the whole set.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 16th, 2017 02:00 pm)

Tasmanian Devil_17


Tasmanian devils are unpopular at parties – they always hold onto the joint.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 16th, 2017 02:07 am)

Cinereous Vulture


“Cinereous” means “color of ash” because “grey vulture” sounds stupid.


As I was reading about grey, I stumbled upon the claim that you can define grey as all solutions of the inequality: 0 ≤ (R = G = B) ≤ 255


There are rather more than 50 options.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 15th, 2017 11:01 pm)

Tapir_7


The tree is starting to worry that the dwarven armorer she met in the previous village might not have been entirely truthful about the magical properties of the chain mail he had sold her.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 15th, 2017 06:01 pm)

Perente_1


This lizard doesn’t think it’s right that Minnesota’s abbreviation “MN” looks more mountainy than all the other states and thinks it should swap names with Colorado.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 15th, 2017 02:01 pm)

Peninsular Pronghorn_12


The pronghorn is doing fine. This is, however, a sub-species of pronghorn that lives on the Baja California peninsula in Mexico.


It looks almost entirely like the regular pronghorn, from which it has been isolated long enough to start to form its own species. However, this particular breed of pronghorn is down to 150 individuals in the wild. Several zoos are working to species.


But what happens if they fail? If we lose this species, and the Baja area no longer has these “ghosts of the desert”? Will we let them fade into myth, a fading memory that only pops up here and then when someone gets a glimpse of white and tan in the far distance? Will this become their Loch Ness monster, their Bigfoot?


Or will we take some of our existing pronghorn from elsewhere in North America and just plop a herd back in that area? If we did that, would it be the same? For many, yes. Could the transplanted animals thrive? Quite possibly. Would there be any practical difference between letting the current pronghorns die out and just replace them once the land has been repaired? Most would say no.


150 would say yes.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 14th, 2017 11:01 pm)

Bongo_12


Bongos prefer the caramel bits.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 14th, 2017 06:01 pm)

Harpy Eagle_4


According to a recent study by Aguiar-Silva, the type of prey most preferred by this fast-flying predator with razor-sharp beak and talons is … the sloth.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 14th, 2017 02:01 pm)

Giant River Otter_11


The giant river otter is difficult to find in zoos and in the wild. They are about twice the size of the North American river otter. Previously, I had only seen these otters at the Birmingham zoo, where the exhibit was indoors and the light made photography difficult. At the LA zoo, they have truly impressive amount of outdoor space … even more impressive given the value of land in the area. I suspect these otters work consulting jobs when the zoo closes to be able to afford it.




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 14th, 2017 02:07 am)

Carmine Bee Eater


Sometimes you read a name and go “hmm”. This often leads to wikitrails.


In this case, the word carmine is a word for deep red. It is linked to cochineal, which is a sort of insect from which red dyes have traditionally been made.


From wikipedia, the etymology goes: carmine <- carmin (12 century French) <- carminium (medieval latin) <- qirmiz (Arabic) <- carmir (Middle Persian). The word "carmir" means, as one might expect, "red". So far, so good, but here it gets interesting ...

"carmir" is believed to come from "kṛmi-jā", the Sanskrit word for "insect-produced", as "krmi" means "worm" or "insect". But that's okay, right, because the cochineal makes the carminic acid from which the dye is made. However, while today they are rather wide-spread, back in the days that Sanskrit was commonly spoken, the cochineals were only found in central and south America. Barring some of the rather interesting and, shall we say, wildly hypothetical, websites out there, between 2000 and 600 BCE there was very little knowledge in India about how the Olmecs were making cloth in what we now call Mexico.

So how did this happen?

The answer is that, in the Mediterranean area, a scale insect called "kermes" also produced a red dye, from which we get the word "crimson": crimson <- carmesinus (Latin) <- qermez (Arabic) <- kṛmi-jā (Sanskrit, again). Carmesinus, of course, is where we got the word "carminc" for the acid.

But wait! Did India trade with the Mediterranean world when Sanskrit was being spoken? After all, if the kermes only lived in the Mediterranean world, how did kṛmi-jā come to be borrowed in the first place?

We know that Scylax, a Greek explorer, was sent to explore the Indus river in 515 BCE. Is it possible that he traveled so far, he fell through a time portal and went back at least another century to land in India where people could marvel over his red clothes and, as he explained how they were made, they came up with "kṛmi-jā", so we could eventually get the words "carmine" and "crimson"?

I'm sure there is a website out there somewhere that offers this as proof, but this explanation seems somewhat far fetched to me.

However, according to Mira Roy who studied the red dyes of pre-colonial India in 1977 (aren't you glad someone did?), the word krmi/kermes does appear to enter the language in the post-Vedic period (500 BCE to 300 AD). More interestingly, she points out that there were three insects from which red dye was produced:

- The lac* <- lak (Persian) and lakh (Hindu), whose name comes from "hundred thousand", referring to the number of eggs it took to make the dye (though I doubt they actually counted them to that level).

- The indragopa which is mis-translated by Mira Roy (and many Indian dictionaries) as the cochineal. As noted previously, this can't be right, because the cochineal is South American and didn't reach India until well after the name kṛmi-jā was applied to mean red. This is covered in decent detail by Siegfried Lienhard who concludes it's actually a red velvet mite, which is bright red, but not useful for creating dyes.

- And finally, our old friend, the kermes or krmi, which was very popular in Europe for dyeing***, but that as Mira Roy notes, was only discovered to have the dye-producing properties in the POST-Vedic period.

So what do we have going on here?

1) We have a word that is believed to originate from a Sanskrit word
2) An insect that was known to make that red dye in Greece, but before the Greeks encountered the Indians speaking Sanskrit
3) An insect that was known to make that red dye by the Olmecs, who (we sure hope) never encountered the Indians at all
4) An insect** that is bright red, was known to the Indians speaking Sanskrit, but that cannot be turned into dye

All of this probably means that the word "kṛmi-jā" is a false etymology. It is more likely that the root of both "carmine" and "crimson" has nothing to do with mites or scale insects at all, which makes sense because neither does this bird. It eats bees.

----------------------------------------

* Amusingly, these insects are referred to as subsisting on trees that produced "electrum", which meant both an alloy of gold and silver and what we now call amber. It likely meant the latter first and was later applied to the alloy because of the yellowish colour of the alloy, even though we now know amber exists in many colours, only one of which is called "amber".

** Technically not an insect

*** This is where "in the grain" comes from, as the kermes eggs were so fine they were referred to as "grains", but that have nothing at all to do with actual grain.


More information:
- Siegfried Lienhard on "indragopa": http://www.indologica.com/volumes/vol06/vol06_art14_Lienhard.pdf
- Philip Smith on amber: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/SMIGRA*/Electrum.html
- Mira Roy on Indian dyes: http://insa.nic.in/writereaddata/UpLoadedFiles/IJHS/Vol13_2_2_MRoy.pdf
- Sanskrit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanskrit
- Crimson etymology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimson#Etymology
- Carmine etymology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmine#Etymology
- Kermes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kermes_(dye)
- Cochineal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochineal




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
guppiecat: (Default)
([personal profile] guppiecat Sep. 13th, 2017 11:01 pm)

Meerkat_3


“Wide open stood the door, he need not climb,

And she herself before the pointed time

Had spread the board, with roses strowed the room,

And oft looked out, and mused he did not come.”




Originally posted at stories.starmind.org.
.