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Crying Wolf (Life Sciences)
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Mick Harper
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and back to his job of killing corn-munching rodents.

Not, note, his day-job. Presumably farmyard duties were divvied up on a diurnal 24-hour shift basis as well as eg cats v owls being given separate econiches. AEL yokels can fill in the details.
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Hatty
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It's self-evident that corvids and parrots are the only, or most common, birds that have a close relationship with humans, now at least. Geese sometimes seem a bit special presumably because they've always been (mainly) for eating unlike corvids and parrots.

One disadvantage that jackdaw-carers point out is the noise level. Corvids, parrots and geese (and peacocks) are notably raucous, to modern ears anyway.
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Hatty
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Barry Cunliffe has written a book about the history of the man-horse relationship spreading from the Eurasian steppes, where he says wild horses were first domesticated c. 4000 BC, westwards to Europe on the back of trading and farming. And, perhaps inevitably, something about climatic change c. 1000 BC. Because of geography and climate everything Cunliffe argues goes east - west including culture and horse management.

According to BC humans are acquisitive and inquisitive by nature, and we're genetically hard-wired to adorn ourselves with precious stones. The love of precious stones and inquisitiveness (and acquisitiveness!) are corvid traits though. Perhaps our genetic wiring is a learned behaviour, not necessarily learned from other humans from the east or west.

Cunliffe said that a carving of birds on the Wandsworth shield boss said to be decorated in La Tène style (Iron Age) is identical to a Scythian carving of two corvids and that "it can't be an accident".
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Hatty
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Jackdaws have a a habit of building nests in chimneys. They're a nuisance not just because of the mess (twigs, droppings, blockage) but the noise they make.

I'd assumed it was a bird-wide habit but no, it always seems to be jackdaws (and sometimes rooks) which would seem to tie in with jackdaws as Megalithic 'talking signposts'. Except that officially at least chimneys only came into existence in the twelfth century, in connection with castles. So chimneys may be a Norman innovation or perhaps castles are the only buildings with surviving examples.

Anyway, the other oddity about jackdaws is their eyes. Researchers have noticed that jackdaws' eyes are unusual

Jackdaw eyes, like those of humans, are unusually conspicuous, with dark pupils surrounded by silvery white irises.

and claim they are the only animals that can follow and interpret human eye movements http://www.avesnoir.com/featured-creature-the-jackdaw/


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Mick Harper
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In Food Detectives this week they were exploring gingko as an aphrodisiac on the grounds that it increased blood circulation. This interested me not so much as an aphrodisiac but as an antidote to tingly feet which I have just started suffering from, and which I assume to be down to bad circulation. Checking it out this caught my attention

Ginkgo biloba, known as ginkgo or as the maidenhair tree, is the only living species in the division Ginkgophyta, all others being extinct. It is found in fossils dating back 270 million years. Native to China, the tree is widely cultivated and was introduced early to human history. It has various uses in traditional medicine and as a source of food. The genus name Ginkgo is regarded as a misspelling of the Japanese gin kyo, "silver apricot".

This seemed to have several domesticate-indicators (especially that bit about all the others becoming extinct). The Chinese will famously do anything to acquire aphrodisiacs. Any suggestions for tingly feet welcome too..
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Boreades


In: finity and beyond
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Any suggestions for tingly feet?

Yes, walk and exercise with barefoot as much as possible. Your feet are much more sensitive to touch and stimulation when bare. It stimulates nerve growth as well.
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Mick Harper
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I have started now.
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Hatty
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The red-throated loon, popularly called rain goose in the Orkneys and Shetlands, was classified as Colymbus stellata, the starry bit presumably meaning speckled. Wiki says it has no distinctive subspecies which seems odd since it has a global distribution particularly across the Arctic regions.

'Loon' refers to lame apparently because it has difficulty walking on land but more likely because when it's flightless, late summer to late autumn, it's a sitting duck as it were. Apart from weather predictions, it's a useful bird for food and clothing (caps) and seems to have had a fundamental role on a par with Raven in north American stories

The species was also central to the creation mythologies of indigenous groups throughout the Holarctic.[66] According to the myth—which varies only slightly between versions, despite the sometimes-vast distances that separated the groups who believed it—the loon was asked by a great shaman to bring up earth from the bottom of the sea. That earth was then used to build the world's dry land.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-throated_loon
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Mick Harper
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A little domestication curiousity to start your day. Ever wondered about the origin of dates? Nor me either. Nor Wiki

Phoenix dactylifera, commonly known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from lands around Iraq. The species is widely cultivated and is naturalized in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide.

So what do you make of this matter-of-fact blurb from Sunday's Book of the Day offerring from Forgotten Books

Date Cook Book
by May Sowles Metzler

It has been quite fitting that a date cook book should originate in Coachella Valley, the American home of the date.<br><br>I feel that the time is not far distant when dates will be used universally both in the fresh state and in various modes of cookery.<br><br>In its use sugar is conserved, as will be seen in the following number of recipes which need no sugar, and by others which require a smaller amount than has before been used.<br><br>Although the compilation contains many of the so called "fancy dishes," a still larger number of simple and wholesome rules may be found in its pages.<br><br>Dates are a product which perhaps lend themselves to a greater variety of uses than any other one article of food, and, consequently, I trust a book devoted exclusively to their service will find favor with all those who desire a more extended acquaintance with this most delicious fruit..
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Ishmael


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They may mean only that dates were first imported to North America via this region.
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Hatty
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This year's Ig Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to the scientists who claimed white/grey horses are less attractive to blood-sucking horseflies http://www.improbable.com/2016/09/27/susanne-akessons-ig-nobel-horsefly-triumph/

It seems to be to do with polarized light though one suggestion I heard is that horseflies on a white background are more likely to be preyed on themselves. It seems to be anecdotally if not scientifically true. I wonder whether being less prone to getting eaten alive means white horses are likely to relatively placid.

Just read that flies are repelled by pale blue for no known reason, based on observations. It sounds improbable too but might again be down to lack of camouflage. Traditionally blue is the colour that wards off evil spirits, seen in blue strips in fields across Arab countries and in Moorish/ Spanish glazed tiles (azulejos).
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Mick Harper
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Sorry to go on about this but next week I have to begin an actual work on the History of Domestication in Ancient Britain, as opposed to slipping interesting gobbets in as footnotes so I'm having to begin the process of becoming the world authority on the subject.. Here's an article from The Independent. I'll comment on it as I go along.

Several pairs of eagle owls, the largest owls in the world, are now breeding in the wild in Britain, according to a new study.

In other words eagle owls are perfectly at home here.

But it is unlikely they will ever be considered British birds as they escaped from a large pool of birds kept in captivity.

One wonders how they know that (but there are 3000 eagle owls in captivity!) but it just goes to show how easy "going feral" might be. But the larger question is why aren't eagle owls native to Britain anyway, since presumably they can compete with smaller native species easily enough. Or can they (memo: do eagle owls need something we no longer have?). But the point here is that domestication of owls might involve the elimination of competing species (by design but more likely because of the artificial protection of one competitor), so the absence of eagle owls might be prime facie evidence of domestication of other, smaller owls.

With its prominent ear tufts, 6ft wingspan

Have a look at the photo in the original. It is not an endearing creature as our dear little barn owl is. Indeed I think all British owls are cute(ish) whereas all non-British ones are ugly bastards. If this is true, it is hugely significant.

and its ability to kill birds as large as herons and animals as big as roe deer
,
Maybe a reason why we would wish to get rid of it, maybe a reason for its gradual departure.

the eagle owl is one of the most remarkable birds in Europe, nesting from Spain in the south to Russia in the north, but has always been absent from Britain.

Sounds more like "absence from Megalithia".

The North Yorkshire pair raised 23 owls between 1997 and 2005. The Lancashire pair hit the headlines in May last year when they began attacking walkers, especially walkers with dogs, who took a footpath near their nest.

Let's get rid! Though as a side-note, not being specially frightened of people is itself a possible sign of distant domestication.

However, the eagle owl is unlikely to be admitted to the official list of British birds which is maintained by the British Ornithologists Union (BOU), according to the study by Tim Melling, secretary of the BOU's records committee; Steve Dudley, its administrator; and Paul Doherty. This is because a review of all the historical evidence indicates that eagle owls have not bred naturally in Britain since the "land bridge" between Britain and the continent disappeared about 9,000 years ago when sea levels rose after the end of the last ice age

If true then this knocks on the head any idea about Megalithics ridding Britain of the eagle owl. However, what credence can we give a study that found no fossil remains (or other evidence) of eagle owls over a ten-thousand-year period? Was anybody looking? I'd like information on this aspect generally of how well we know these things negatively eg rabbits were introduced by the Romans/Normans. Is this because rabbit evidence is plentiful after but wholly absent before?

...possibly because the birds do not like flying over extensive stretches of water.

We have discovered, in a small way, that aversion to water is a megalithic characteristic but since the eagle owls were found in Northern Britain, where the sea is widest, this seems an unlikely reason for the eagle-owl exclusion.

Full article here (you'll have to eliminate the hard return)
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/largest-owls-
in-the-world-threaten-british-birds-930862.html
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