Sunday, November 03, 2013

Adapting to a micro environment

My only commercially available novella, Mating Net, contains a reference to micro-environments which have formed in "crater worlds" in a deeply pitted planet. Only a small portion of the story took place in one of those crater worlds, and I did not have the word count to develop local flora and fauna.

Well, to be honest, I did, but it would have been an info dump.

I was in Lakeland, Florida, recently and was fascinated to see birds hunting and playing on the lily pads in Lake Mirror. Not jacarana type birds, nor coots, nor ducks, nor heron-family birds. Nothing with enormous feet, particularly long legs, special bills or other water-living adaptations. They looked like regular brown jays.

I believe that jays are opportunists.
They are Corvidae, which is the family of birds "considered the most intelligent of the birds, and among the most intelligent of all animals having demonstrated self-awareness in mirror tests (European Magpies) and tool making ability (crows, rooks)—skills until recently regarded as solely the province of humans and a few other higher mammals. Their total brain-to-body mass ratio is equal to that of great apes and cetaceans, and only slightly lower than in humans." (Wikipedia)


As I watched them, I was reminded of the Japanese snow monkeys, and of the story of how apes learned to wash rice by throwing it in water, and only eating what floated.

These jays were turning up the lily pads to catch creatures living on the undersides of the pads. Probably snails. They flew on and off, hopped from pad to pad, used smaller pads like elevators to lower them into the water for a splashy bath (it looked quite deliberate), hunted etc.

This is not my video.... and it shows a variety of birds on lilypads. Enjoy and be inspired.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9fg-HSJCIE

3 comments:

  1. Especially fascinating are the micro-environments in hot springs, etc., where organisms live happily in boiling temperatures and immersed in chemicals that would poison most life forms.

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  2. Especially fascinating are the micro-environments in hot springs, etc., where organisms live happily in boiling temperatures and immersed in chemicals that would poison most life forms.

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  3. Sorry about the double post; it didn't seem to work the first time.

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