The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's been far too long

Since I posted anything about our eponymous rodent, Marmota monax, the Woodchuck and family.  Now there's a study about ... wait for it ... social networking in marmots.

"Marmots don’t have Facebook yet, but animals living among clusters of burrows in Colorado do interact enough for observers to plot networks with each marmot as a node. An exchange might be friendly, such as a marmot grooming a neighbor or settling down tranquilly nearby. Or a social interaction might go sour, with one marmot nipping or chasing another. “Marmots are grumpy with each other,” Blumstein says, but rarely cause serious injuries"

It's these so-called incoming social interactions, those initiated by another furry little rascal, that were studied and that may, possibly, have a genetic basis. The suggestion, somehow torturously arrived at, is that having lots of connections (being a social animal) brings with it a share of snubs, bites, and kicks-off-the-rock, and if you're genetically predisposed to putting up with that level of snarkiness in your life, that may somehow be adaptively advantageous.  I guess.  If I'm reading it right.

“I am completely blown away by this paper,” says James Fowler, professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California, San Diego, who is clearly short of a social life himself.

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