When it’s cold outside, modern humans don a sweater to ward off the chill. But how and when early humans began to develop an ability to cope with different climates has been a great puzzle in the study of human evolution. The answer is important because it suggests when early humans were able to migrate out of tropical Africa and settle all corners of the globe.
Archive for September, 2001
Scientists have discovered what may be the ideal partner for a game of charades: A long-armed octopus that mimics poisonous creatures of the sea to avoid its predators.
The clever creature is a brown octopus about two feet (60 centimeters) long that slithers along the muddy bottom of shallow, tropical estuaries where rivers spill into the sea. It was discovered so recently that it still doesn’t have a scientific name, but scientists are intrigued by its uncanny ability to impersonate lion fish, soles, and banded sea snakes.
An octopus may get some mileage out of the excuse “I can’t help it, my arm has a mind of its own,” as it goes for an extra sea morsel—at least more than can a human who reaches too often into the cookie jar. Neither, however, can lay full blame for their greed on their appendages.
For humans, the brain inside the human skull, the same brain that sees the cookie and wants to eat it, controls the reach into the cookie jar. Octopus arms, on the other hand, really do have a mind of their own, according to research reported in the September 7 issue of Science.
It’s not hard to advocate ecotourism—loosely defined as a form of travel that protects an area of the natural world while enabling the local people to preserve their culture and meet their daily needs.
The hard part is making ecotourism work.