Flowers for Algernon (2000)

Kat Eschner's newsletter about animal-human relationships Vol. 3 Iss. 4

This issue of CREATURE FEATURE is brought to you by GIFs (read a history of the file format by the amazing Lorraine Boissoneault.) It will also contain many GIFs, because moving pictures of animals keep me going sometimes. I have no idea where most of these images came from but have tried to assess whether the animals are stressed out (for full CREATURE FEATURE image policy, scroll to bottom of issue!)

GIF: A black dog and a white dog cuddle. The white dog starts to pant.

There is an animal called the sea pangolin, and it is not a fan of deep sea mining

Sea pangolins are a kind of sea snail whose foot is armored by lots of little scales (I imagine you can see how it got its name.) Now, thanks to deep sea mining efforts fucking up its home, the little critter is, like its namesake, on the IUCN red list, Jason Daley writes for

Extra credit: Scientists are starting to wonder if ocean acidification could thicken the shells of all remaining types of sea snail.

A mouse grew me this pancreas

A Japanese scientist is the first in the country to gain approval to grow mouse embryos with human cells, writes David Cyranoski for Nature. It’s been done before, but the research is both technically and ethically sticky, although it holds the promise of being able to grow human organs for transplant in animals.

Some bioethicists are concerned about the possibility that human cells might stray beyond development of the targeted organ, travel to the developing animal’s brain and potentially affect its cognition.

Nakauchi says these concerns have been taken into consideration in the experiment design. “We are trying to do targeted organ generation, so the cells go only to the pancreas,” he says.

A gory morning at an Alabama animal shelter

Workers at the Dothan Animal Shelter in southeastern Alabama came in one morning this week to discover that two dogs managed to break into the cat enclosure and kill 29 cats, write Ryan Prior and Dylan Miettinen for CNN.

Fun fact: The dogs were “pit bulls” according to the animal shelter’s director. Pit bulls are the target of a lot of breed-specific legislation, including in Toronto where I live, but I suggest you read the ASPCA’s position statement and consider that, as they write, “genetics do not exist in a vacuum.”

GIF: A wild mouse stands balanced on what I think is a thistle of some kind.

In the belly of a shark, you lose your right hand.

Your mother taught to never grab with your left. As the ship trails past, you’re glad respect dictates that you don’t reach for it. The shark who swallows your hand doesn’t try biting you twice. It looks at you, both of you strangers to each other with black eyes and long scars across your faces. The shark swallowed your hand with ease, but something inside must have made its stomach turn. It doesn’t touch you as it swims away. This is the first time in a long time that nothing and nobody touches you. You’re free to breathe, now, if you don’t mind the drowning.

—”If You Don’t Mind the Drowning,” Vanessa Taylor

Please read me

My work from this week.

  1. There’s a viable alternative to buying a giant telescope on sacred Hawaiian land

  2. Indigenous people much more likely to be murdered than other Canadians

  3. Scientists are speaking out against the ‘violence’ required to build this new telescope

  4. Monarch butterfly development is cooler than we thought

  5. Teenagers’ trail of mayhem across Canada leads to the wilds of northern Manitoba

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact me at my email or on Twitter. If you enjoy this newsletter and would like to tip me, I am on Ko-fi.

CREATURE FEATURE is edited by Tracey Lindeman.

All images in CREATURE FEATURE are used under Creative Commons licensing. Efforts have been made to ensure that photographs of living animals or natural scenes have been taken ethically, in responsible pet ownership conditions, at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums or under safe, non-damaging conditions in the wild. If you see an issue with any image we share, please notify me.