Tag Archive: animals

Book Review: Into That Forest

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Into That Forest Author: Louis Nowra Published: 7 January 2013 Publisher: Egmont Books Summary: Wonderfully told and deeply moving ‒ an instant classic. It’s strange to think that, under the right conditions, humans can revert back to the wild state our ancestors worked so hard to detach civilised society from. After all, we still have the tools; keen eyesight and hearing, a decent sense of smell and a predators’ ability to problem solve, we just fail to utilise them, or simply employ them in different ways. And regressing to the wild-side is exactly what happens in Into That Forest; stranded in the Tasmanian wilderness, two young girls, Hannah and Becky, are adopted by a pair of Tasmanian tigers and spend the subsequent four years learning to hunt, read the outback and generally live as wild animals. As the girls integrate themselves with their new parents, they lose the use of English, instead opting to employ the grunts, snarls and body language of …

DVD Review: The Hunter

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The Hunter Released: 29 October 2012 Starring: Willem Dafoe, Frances O’Connor, Sam Neil Summary: A beautiful, poignant film with a magnificent central performance from Dafoe.  The thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger) officially became extinct in 1936 but, despite this fact, sightings have been widely reported across the Australian island state of Tasmania ever since. And this is what inspires the basic premise of The Hunter (based on the 1999 novel of the same name): having been reliably informed that a single tiger still survives near to a tiny Tasmanian logging town, a sinister biotech corporation hires Willem Dafoe’s shady character (alias Martin David) to hunt it down for them. Under the flaky guise of a researcher studying wild Tasmanian devils, Martin arrives at his mission site to a hostile reception: ‘we don’t like greenies around here’ is what one angry local tells him in the town bar. And so Martin begins the tricky task of tracking down his elusive quarry whilst trying not …

Book Review: In Defence of Dogs by John Bradshaw

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In Defence of Dogs Author: John Bradshaw Published: 5 July 2012 Publisher: Penguin Summary: Illuminating but, at times, a little too academic. One of the most widely held views of dog training is based on two scientific observations. Firstly, that dogs share 99.96% of their DNA with the grey wolves from which they’re descended, and secondly, that captive wolves housed in enclosures quarrel and fight until a particular individual is crowned dominant. These two notions have led to the popularisation of the ‘dominance model’ of domestic dog training, an ideology that encourages owners to continuously assert their authority on their furry companion in order to establish themselves as the superior, or alpha. However, anthrozoologist Dr John Bradshaw has a bone to pick with the dominance model of dog training, and In Defence of Dogs is where he presents his arguments. Bradshaw’s objections are compelling: he notes that, unlike the zoos in which a random assemblage of unrelated wolves are forced into an …

Quiz 5 – Animals

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It’s that time again – it’s Unpopular Science’s fifth and final science quiz. This week the theme is animals. For those that don’t know, after this final week, whoever has the highest cumulative score will win a copy of Tiger Wars by Steve Backshall*. The quiz will close at 12pm on Thursday the 3rd of January and the winner will be announced in a post soon after, along with the final leaderboard. If you want your score to be tracked, add your name and email. If you just want a bit of fun, don’t worry. You can start the quiz by simply clicking Next. To see the leaders after the first four quizzes, see our leaderboard. You can still join in, by doing our first quiz here, our second here, our third quiz here and our fourth quiz here. The current high score is 28, so make sure you take part in every quiz to have the best chance of winning. * In the event of a tie, names will be drawn …

The biology of Harry Potter

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I recently wrote an article outlining how biological concepts are communicated through the Pokémon games and it got me thinking: what other popular franchises might do a similar thing? Now, they don’t come much more popular than JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series (there are probably lichens living under polar rocks that have heard of polyjuice potion and blast-ended skrewts) and I think it’s possible the books may just have transmitted the odd biological principle to a few unsuspecting readers. Perhaps because of the cover art, it’s likely the first images the words ‘biology’ and ‘Harry Potter’ conjure up are ones of magical creatures; hippogriffs, dragons or basilisks for example. Of course, whilst often based on genuine animals, it’s widely accepted such creatures don’t exist and anyone who does go off searching the real world for them is known politely as a cryptozoologist. Interestingly, Rowling includes a nod to the pseudoscience of cryptozoology in the form of the Lovegood family who, unlike …

Quiz 2 – Oceans

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It’s time for another of Unpopular Science’s famous science quizzes. This is week 2 of our quiz schedule. After 5 weeks, whoever has the highest cumulative score will win a copy of  Tiger Wars by Steve Backshall*.  If you want your score to be tracked, add your name and email. If you just want a bit of fun, don’t worry. You can start the quiz by simply clicking Next. To see the leaders of the first week’s quiz, see our leaderboard. You can still join in, by doing our first quiz here. * In the event of a tie, names will be drawn at random and the Editor’s decision is always final. One entry per person. Prize will be announced soon. Also, good luck!

Book Review: River Monsters by Jeremy Wade

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River Monsters Author: Jeremy Wade Published: 18 October 2012 Publisher: Orion Summary: A fascinating, engrossing read whether you’ve ever cast a line or not. We’ve all heard a fisherman’s tale before. Those far-fetched stories concerning ‘the ones that got away’ shared in the corner of dimly lit pubs by liquor-soaked men with missing teeth. Well, oddly enough, it turns out some of them were true. Of course, zoologist and extreme angler Jeremy Wade has known this for a long time and, for the past twenty-five years, he’s been travelling the world collecting the stories of ferocious freshwater attacks previously written off as folklore by the masses. From tales of sharks attacking horses at river crossings (yes, sharks in rivers!), to spiked fish lodging themselves inside gentlemen’s nether regions, it really is incredible how many of the myths Wade investigates in River Monsters turn out to be fact. From the opening sentence, it’s clear Wade can write (he’s previously been employed as …

Meet the neighbours

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London is inundated with life. At first glance most of us would deduce it’s only human city-slickers and scruffy pigeons scurrying about the capital but strangely, most of us would be mistaken. There is actually a vast array of other creatures stealthily going about their daily business, often hiding in plain sight. From armoured sex addicts to the fastest animal on the planet, meeting your real neighbours in London may be a startling experience. The first surprise comes in the form of the Peregrine Falcon, a predatory bird that makes a meal out of London’s plump pigeons ‒ usually after snatching them mid-flight. To do this, Peregrines rocket downwards from breathtaking heights, striking unsuspecting pigeons at speeds of up to 230mph. This easily makes them the fastest animal on the planet. In 2001 it was confirmed that Peregrine Falcons were breeding in London using tall buildings as nest sites in place of their more traditional cliff top sites out in …

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