Field of Science


I don't know if you know this about me, but I totally flip my shit over tiny rodents, especially hamsters, mice, and squirrels. I have seen every children's movie about mice and their ilk that you can think of: An American Tail, Ratatouille, Stuart Little, The Tale of Despereaux... I've even seen G-Force, although I'm not particularly proud of that one. I'm also pretty fond of animated bunnies (K recently made me watch Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and I totally flipped my shit), but I digress.

Earlier this year, Kia Motors came out with this commercial to advertise their Kia Soul:

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Needless to say, I flipped my shit over that. However, nothing could have prepared me for the amount of shit flipping I would do over the sequel:

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Oh. My god. It has hamsters riding in toasters! I don't even know what that means!

In addition to these two videos, this weekend's required reading is this wonderful ode to the Eastern Gray Squirrel from the New York Times. I did an undergraduate project on caching behavior in gray squirrels, and they are truly marvelous creatures.
[S]quirrels don't just bury an acorn and come back in winter. They bury the seed, dig it up shortly afterward, rebury it elsewhere, dig it up again. "We've seen seeds that were recached as many as five times," said Dr. Steele. The squirrels recache to deter theft, lest another squirrel spied the burial the first X times. Reporting in the journal Animal Behaviour, the Steele team showed that when squirrels are certain that they are being watched, they will actively seek to deceive the would-be thieves. They'll dig a hole, pretend to push an acorn in, and then cover it over, all the while keeping the prized seed hidden in their mouth. "Deceptive caching involves some pretty serious decision making," Dr. Steele said. "It meets the criteria of tactical deception, which previously was thought to only occur in primates."

There's even a research team at Hampshire College that is building squirrel robots to see if squirrels will respond to simulated alarm calls. SQUIRREL ROBOTS, PEOPLE. Shit flip commencing.

I might blog about rodents every weekend, my love for them is just that great. Pic related. This is a stuffed squirrel that K bought for me at an airport. I got the teacup for him for a dollar at an antique store. Yes, I am that dorky that I would want a squirrel with a teacup on my desk. Hey, at least it's better than coffee.

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