Daily Archives: February 23, 2009

Marta’s (good) questions, Greg’s (oft’ lame) answers: Bonobos?

My student, Marta, exploded the other day.

She was sitting there in class two weeks ago and exploded. She does not know that I know this, but I noticed it happen. Since she was sitting, as usual, in the front row, and it was all in her face, the other students did not see it but I definitely did.

By “exploding” in this case I mean that her brain suddenly filled with unanswered questions, which she then started sending me in frantic emails. Many of these questions are about things we will eventually get to in class, but some are on issues that we won’t touch on at all. I decided, and I received her kind permission to do this, to answer her questions by blogging them. This way I get to kill two birds with one stone, which is usually a good thing (unless of course you are the second bird).

In some cases I’ve re-written the question a little, but in all cases, they are good questions. I cannot guarantee that all of my answers will be good. But I do appreciate Marta’s inspiration, and find it inspiring myself. My only concern is that Marta gets interested enough in this material to become a biological anthropologist and thus wastes an otherwise potentially productive life. I’m hoping she becomes a doctor or a world leader instead, but we’ll see…

OK, on to the first question (I’ll deal with others in later posts):
Continue reading Marta’s (good) questions, Greg’s (oft’ lame) answers: Bonobos?

The Recluse Spider Warnings

It is almost Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. One thing this means that US citizens and I’d bet some Canadians will be receiving the annual Brown Recluse Spider Warnings via Email. In order to reduce the negative effects of this email spamish meme, I hereby inoculate you. If you get the email, which usually comes with dire warnings and lots of photographs of bad things happening to people’s flesh allegedly because of a recluse spider bite, just delete it.

Look at this map and read the caption:

This map is based on data collected by arachnologists and is provided courtesy of Rick Vetter. Generally, recluses can be expected to be uncommon at the margins of this range. Rarely, they are found outside of this normal distribution in very localized areas. Such rare encounters should not be interpreted as a broadening of the species typical range or as an indication of large populations throughout the area in which the unusual sighting was recorded.

The recluse spider packs a nasty bite, but is not as common or widespread as the email you receive will suggest, and it is not as dangerous either. The Brown Recluse Spider Project has more.