My massive baby bird, Argyle - the neediest cockatiel in the world.
My fiancé is marrying an asshole, edition one: ah, the things you can do with a suit, some hangers, heavy-weight paper and a stick of charcoal…
Made some custom 40k terrain. Hot springs: counts as dangerous terrain, pools themselves are impassable.
The springs are dug into painted styrene and covered with a thin sheet of plastic, textured with clear acrylic gloss gel to give it a rippled appearance.
Reblogging so I remember to do this to my sister’s cat.
Messin’ with the poor kitty’s head… when I get to a place where I can have a cat, I need to remember this.
Ooooh, this is actually really intriguing!
The Juvenile Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin)
It should first be noted that all birds are dinosaurs (order Saurischia, clade Theropoda), not just descendents of dinosaurs - modern genetic analysis strongly supports this cladistic organization. But given what we’re too often taught in schools, birds and dinosaurs are hard to reconcile in many peoples’ minds.
The juvenile hoatzin, however, makes it easy to see the reptilian traits that once dominated the early birds, and displays the unused genetic codes that lurk in the genome of modern avians. When they hatch, they’re equipped with lizard-like claws in front of their wings. Their use is described here, but in short, they use them to return to their nest and avoid predators. Their claws disappear by the time they leave the nest, having grown together into the metacarpals that support the wing structure.
Another fascinating trait of the hoatzins is their vegetarianism and their digestive tract. They have gut flora and fermentation similar to ruminants, which no other bird has. This is actually what leads to their being called “stink birds” - they exude a lot of stench with the fermentation process. The gut fermentation is so important to the hoatzin that the flight muscles attached to their keel are significantly reduced, to allow for more space for the stomach. They are weak flyers because of this. After a large meal, an adult hoatzin can spend up to two days doing almost nothing, allowing the leaves and greenery to have their nutrients released by their symbiotic gut flora.
Top: Attitudes of the juvenile hoatzin while climbing
Second row, left: Hoatzin nest with two eggs - Note proximity to water
Second row, right: Two hoatzin chicks preparing to dive, after appearance of threat from above
Third row, left: Hoatzin chick demonstrating strong swimming abilities
Third row, right: Hoatzin chick demonstrating poor locomotion on land
Bottom: Detail of hoatzin chick climbing, using neck, feet, and claws.
Tropical Wild Life in British Guinea, Vol 1. Curated by William Beebe, 1898.
It should be noted that the claws of Hoatzin are not actually simply because they are related to dinosaurs. Their claws actually re-evolved independently - they are not evolutionary leftovers at their core. While it could be considered a re-appearing gene because of their evolutionary history, it’s still something that would have to be selected over time and could have vanished again just as easily, not to mention it’s very unlikely (and impossible to prove) that it is the exact genome coming out of dormancy.
It’s more similar to dinosaurs when one thinks about convergent evolution than when one thinks about descendence, even if they are descendents too.
All of this is true, but I still like the hoatzin as an example of how to start to show people how birds really *are* dinosaurs - it’s a concept that many people don’t even begin to accept easily.
Hoatzin claws aren’t so much elongated talons-turned-wings like the Archaeopteryx seems to have, as they are a set of hooks on the front of a “chicken wing” structure. Note too, that Archaeopteryx and the hoatzin are not closely related at all (also the archaeopteryx may not even be a bird or bird relative/ancestor, but that’s a whole different matter).
Either way, the hoatzin (btw, if anyone’s wondering, that’s basically pronounced “Watsin”) is an interesting bird. The morphological changes in the wing bones as it matures are interesting enough, but the fact that it’s got such a weird digestive system are what really intrigue me.
It should be noted that while the hoatzin is a poor flyer, it’s not because it’s “primitive” or anything - it’s completely because they have a huge gut, and smaller flight muscles because of that. While their gut is a characteristic that some pretty ancient ancestors of theirs had (at least back to the Eocene), the species as a whole isn’t some evolutionary throwback, like some of the Crocodilians. The “hook-hands” of the hoatzin are relatively recent developments, as was noted. But their morphological similarities to the extinct Therapods still helps to remind people that dinosaurs and birds aren’t so different, after all.
Actually, while the claws are indeed probably re-evolved, that doesn’t at all mean that they aren’t still built from the same ancestral genes as those of dinosaurs. Because embryonic development is such a fragile process, changes tend to be added onto the end as new stages, which is why you can see ancestral structures in embryos that are later re-absorbed (like primordial gill structures and tails in human embryos). Much of evolution happens by sliding around the precise timing of developmental events, such as limb creation and bone formation.
This makes sense when you consider the Hoatzin because while the claws of its embryo are well-developed, the hand of an adult much more closely resemble the fused fingers of any other bird. While I haven’t been able to find any recent scholarly articles on Hoatzin development, I strongly suspect that it’s not so much a case of the Hoatzin adding on a set of claws as that the genes regulating claw formation in the hand are allowed to express for longer than usual, resulting in a more distinct claw until the modern avian genes for bone fusion finally kick in during adolescence, concluding development. So it is not convergent, but atavistic.
Remember that time on Star Trek: the Next Generation when Beverly Crusher fell in love with an icky parasite because love conquers all but then as soon as that parasite got a female host Dr. Crusher spun her around and out the door so fast she got whiplash and then lied about…
While I agree with everything you said, she spent the entire episode trying to accept Odan in Riker’s body. And while I think she finally accepted that she was in love with the symbiont Odan rather than the host, she was actually too straight to love this other woman. And that’s okay. Because she doesn’t have to be in a relationship with a woman if she doesn’t want, but I agree. I wish they had tackled that one better. And the look on her face when she sees Kareel is one of my least favorite moments of TNG because they were SO CLOSE and it wasn’t there. I love Star Trek too, but their acceptance of LGBTQ characters was never their strong suit. Even later, like during Enterprise when it would have been so easy to just slip in. But, let’s just appreciate Garak. And Soren and later with Dax and Kahn. And I’m sorry to explode on your post. I didn’t mean to. And I really want to start watching Babylon 5, so thank for giving me more reasons! :)
Oh, I don’t disagree with anything you said! I don’t think you sound at all like a jerk, and actually you summed up what I was getting at really eloquently. It’s that look on Dr. Crusher’s face when Odan walks into the room with Kareel’s body, clearly expecting to be welcomed back, only to be coldly refused. It would have been one thing if Beverly had told Odan that she was straight, and that she still liked him/her but that she knew if he/she stuck around then they might try to get back together again and that Beverly was honest enough to know that would inevitably lead to even greater heartbreak. Or - because I would assume Beverly was the one to do the procedure and therefore should already know - she could have been waiting to see if the flame was still there once Odon was installed.
That’s what I choose to believe her motivation was, but I can’t extend that belief to her creators, and that’s where I feel disappointed, despite my love of the show. Their self-proclaimed goal was to create a future where humanity was better, but when it came to really progressive ideas they either capitulated or were limited by what they themselves were willing to consider.
A lot changes in twenty years, so I can certainly forgive them that… But twenty years ago Babylon 5 was also on television, and while same-sex relationships weren’t common in the narrative (pretty much limited to what I mentioned), they also weren’t treated in any way differently from heterosexual relationships. I feel both that the show is admirable for that (and its tackling of other human issues), and that this makes the expression on Beverly’s face that much more regrettable.
You should totally watch Babylon 5! I mean, again, you can pretty safely skip season one, and you’ll want to take season two with a grain of salt, but all in all it’s pretty damn awesome!
No, he appears to have written a fair bit of season one, according to Wikipedia. One of my friends joined the production for season two and she tells me the first thing they did was actually to watch the first season over and over and over until they all understood what had gone wrong.
Hmmm, well, I’m not as impressed by the worldbuilding (compared to most written sci-fi at least) but more by how very consistently human it all is (even the aliens, which is a minor point against worldbuilding but a giiiaaaant point toward characterization), and how strong the central themes are. While it doesn’t diminish my love of other series, there certainly aren’t many that stand up to the well-rounded quality of B5.