There’s something oddly endearing about a monkey washing dishes:
(Hat tip to Boing Boing.)
David Attenborough’s rendition of “It’s a Wonderful World” should improve your day:
(Hat tip to io9.)
When Alicorn compares babies and bunnies, she finds the bunnies much cuter, which puzzles her:
Now, bunnies are not evolutionarily important for humans to like and want to nurture. In fact, bunnies are edible. By rights, my evolutionary response to the bunny should be “mmm, needs a sprig of rosemary and thirty minutes on a spit”.
She and all the commenters seem to be missing the obvious evo-psych explanation — probably because they’ve grown up in the suburbs, with zero exposure to farming or ranching.
We’re a race of hunter-gatherers who evolved into pastoralists and farmers. We instinctively take care of cute little animals — until they grow up and turn not-cute. Then, suddenly, they become edible. It’s almost as if we instinctively raise animals for food…
Edit: Apparently Alicorn is upset that I did not recognize her feminine nature by her user name, which is the technical term for a unicorn’s horn. I’ve since replaced neutral masculine pronouns with explicitly feminine ones. (I can be reached, by the way, at isegoria at this domain — which is a .net domain.)
The Brandts set their camera timer to take a picture of them at Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park, Canada, but a curious ground squirrel stole the spotlight.
Meerkats don’t spoil their mind-numbingly cute babies forever — just for their first 100 days:
Zoologists at the University of Cambridge wanted to understand why a young meerkat would stop using its charm to get free food and begin working for its own food. Joah Madden and his colleagues studied groups of wild meerkats in the Kalahari Desert, and found that as the pups aged into juveniles their voices changed: Pup begging calls peaked at an average of 1231 Hz, whereas the juveniles peaked at a deeper 953 Hz.
This change in pitch might make their begs less persuasive, eliciting less food and leaving the juveniles no option but to forage on their own. To explore this option, Madden followed adult meerkats around with a loudspeaker that played younger baby meerkat begs. He found the adults started offering their own food, even to older juveniles. And the juveniles — which had been past their begging prime — eagerly ran over to grab the free meals, ceasing their own foraging. The results appeared May 17 in Animal Behaviour.
One of the well-known “secrets” of Sesame Street‘s enduring success is that it is not aimed purely at its pre-literate, toddler audience. Many of the skits have a sly sense of humor aimed at any adults in the room.
The Muppet Show took this a step further, with many (fairly) contemporary acts performing. After The Muppet Show‘s successful run, it looks like Sesame Street moved further in that direction.
It’s amazing how earnest the lead singer is — especially in contrast to the other members of the band, who are clearly acting like they’re playing with a toddler (Elmo).
Incidentally, these videos remind you why the front man is the front man. Darius seems perfectly comfortable singing to a red puppet. The other guys? Not so much.
Cartoonist Rosemary Mosco offers up what she calls her paleobet with the admonition to know your prehistory.
You might also enjoy her “highly unscientific educational chart” of the parts of the bird or her demonstration of why evolution sucks if you’re a prehistoric terror bird.
Wired shares the Top 10 Animal Photos submitted and voted on by users:
Today’s dose of cute — “hideously cute” — comes from newborn aardvark Amani:
Zoo officials are awaiting DNA test results to determine the sex of its newborn aardvark, Amani (Swahili for “peace”), born at 1:05 a.m. Dec. 8 to mother Rachaael and father Mchimbaji.
The 23-inch infant arrived hairless, weighing 3 pounds, 10 ounces, with ears measuring 4 inches. “This baby can only be described as hideously cute,” said Director of Conservation and Animal Welfare Scott Carter. “Rachaael is a first-time mother and is showing great maternal instincts.”
Due to the aardvark’s clumsy nature and poor eyesight, zoo officials are assisting Rachaael with raising the fragile baby to prevent the possibility of it being injured. Since the birth, Amani has more than doubled in size. Adult aardvarks can weigh from 90 to 145 pounds and grow 5 to 6 feet in length.
The aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is an African mammal whose name derives from the Afrikaans word “earth pig.” The animal’s unusual appearance plays a part in its success as a forager. The ears point forward to enable it to listen for the sound of insects. The snout is long and filled with hair that acts as a filter, letting scents in and keeping dirt out. Strong limbs and spoon-shaped claws can tear though the sturdiest of termite mounds, allowing the aardvark to trap insects with its long, sticky tongue which can be up to 12 inches long.
If you don’t like the typical hospital experience, perhaps you’d consider this Hello Kitty Maternity Ward:
A nurse tends to a baby inside a Hello Kitty themed maternity ward inside a hospital in Changhua County December 4, 2008. Mommy, daddy — and Hello Kitty — welcome newborns at a cat-themed Taiwan maternity hospital that hopes the Japanese cartoon icon will ease the stress of childbirth as well as boost business. The 30-bed Hau Sheng Hospital in Yuanlin in central Taiwan claims to be the only institution of its kind authorised by the popular cartoon cat’s parent company Sanrio Co Ltd. Newborns get everything Hello Kitty but a set of whiskers, including pink or blue receiving blankets, nurses dressed in pink uniforms with cat-themed aprons, cot linen and room decor.