Grips: Capuchin Symbolic Adoption

I recently made a symbolic adoption of a Capuchin monkey (Cebus capucinus) living in a sanctuary in Cornwall, England. The Wild Futures group is set up for protection of primates of all kinds that have been used and mistreated in medicine research, the underground pet trade, and entertainment.

Grips is specifically a black-capped capuchin born in 1997, but didn’t arrive in the sanctuary until 2010. His mother died and he was raised by the human owner but obviously neglected and fed the wrong food. Thus he has high glucose and is being treated with special food/conditions. This was a picture of him with his two sisters in their old ‘home’. The other two are from the sanctuary.Giz_ins grips_in_the_paddock_2010_dsc04771_1_ grips_serious

Capuchin monkeys have learned to exploit almost every kind of forest, yet they are critically endangered for because of hunting/deforestation and pet trade. They are amongst the most intelligent of the higher primates. When shown their reflection, they respond with a sense of self-awareness. Other animals usually cowl or confront the reflection as if it were another animal. This recognition as a strange phenomena is the exact same in uncontaminated human tribes of the East, like those in Africa/Borneo and Amazon. They are aware of the appearance of their kin but not fully of their own selves. Some theories are that they have a theory of mind, meaning they could empathize with other Capuchins of their species. They are know to use tools in a modded hammer and anvil style, with river stones to break open shells of nuts, and use the entrails of millipedes for keeping insects like mosquitoes from biting them. They are even known to comprehend money, using a trading system! Their diet is of the most diverse of the New World monkeys because they eat approx. 96 different plants, nuts, seeds, small vertebrates, birds, crustaceans, and shellfish, but are prey to the Harpy Eagle, and Jaguar.

Since the rehabilitation in the sanctuary, apparently his coat is much better in quality, and is becoming more social. The group gives these monkeys, indeed our quadruped ancestors, a better life. they also support another similar group in Chile.

 

Pine-Marten

Seeing a new species is always such an exciting and contented moment for me, so I wrote a poem for the first pine marten I saw in the wild!

The home ranges of Pine Marten are in the northern regions of North America, as well as the far western tip of the Pacific Northwest, above to the Alaskan ice grounds and south to the Mexican soils. They are quite rare to see in the winter, active only about 5 hours a day and then going into a torpor state to conserve energy and lower their metabolism. All the more special because in -20 degrees whether or storms (most observed in Alaska) above ground activity was almost none, instead they stay in the trees, or in dens of their subnivean tunnels of ice and snow. It was near this temperature when I saw it, and storming hard. On average they travel 1-3 kms a day, dependent on many ecological, physiological and prey factors. They eat voles, deer mice, and snowshoe hares, and berries.

Am I A Biologist?

In quiet times, or when I find myself delving into nature’s secrets, I ponder… I ask questions of my existence, my evolution, my present, my spirituality, my connection to the real. I consider myself to be animal, or just another organic being with no special purposes, but intrinsic in the eternal. I can feel myself closer to different identities however as any kind of stimulus from without or within has it’s way with me, through culture, relationships, knowledge, body, I take pleasure in entwining my persona with that of a biologist. According to wikipedia: “A biologist is a scientist who studies living organisms and their relationship to their environment. Biologists involved in basic research attempt to discover underlying mechanisms that govern how organisms work

But in today’s society, any discipline of study seems to clash and rift with this mundane notion of career. It has been carved out in a carefully packaged and tangible process form, available for anyone with a few thousand dollars to buy appropriate textbooks. I hold sacred the extreme insight and enlightenment that I have obtained from biologist, but at it’s core, the nature that lets them have this status. I feel small and out of place when I think about the average biologist, and how culture treats it accordingly. Re-quoting Christopher McCandless from Into The Wild “I think a career is a 21st century invention and I don’t want one”. I am a follower and disciple of the writings of true wild men; Muir, Thoreau, Emerson, Shaun Ellis, Jim Dutcher, Jack London, et all. I have mostly up till now silently reflected in awe of their pervading wisdom, and fertile love of life. None of these were adept “scholars” or “students” in the current sense. Others like Darwin, Mayr, Haeckel, Dawkins are more prolific, but with the exception of Darwin, less wild and more sedentary. I reflect in their shadow of great minds, an adopt a healthy dose of skepticism myself as to what I would really like with my own life. I have often chased the true meaning of pleasure, and got thrown back in the gyre of cyclic attachment and nullity. I see how rich and fertile these persons lives were and how much they altered the world we know, as well as their own quality of mortal existence. I am a biologist by nature, my mind condemns the stasis and inability to know my own ecology and the species and land I interact with that let me survive.

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I perceive still a divisive force within me, a duality of wants and needs. At once I feel the want to abandon my expected comforts, my fear, my longing, and romantic appeal for studying nature and just BE. Muir often took years between publishing works, and when once challenged by a professional geologist at Harvard on the glaciation effects in the Sierras being irrelevant, he studied every stream and watershed and glacier course, and published a study that is revered by every geologist as true now. Said professor at Harvard had probably only had secondhand experience or dusty books from others to base his knowledge upon, and methinks did not spend more than a few hours in the region itself. Most of our present enlightenment came from these life experiences of those who did not have any “degree” to prove it. Unfiltered by analyzed and translated data.

In my lifetime, I would personally love to be “recognized” and be given the opportunity to integrate my own knowledge into evolving modern science, or undertaking research projects that would allow me to travel, but I am lost on the fact that I can not do this without having a piece of paper to prove I am the “right type”. Our need to classify and pigeonhole everything has made this discipline of knowing a commodity, and when it comes down to it, it becomes harder to survive without a sense of materialism in this world. I also feel there is something inherently wrong about telling someone “this is how it is” versus “seeing it happen yourself” and being taught in general as a means to an end. There is the inane exploitation  of biology that comes in stride with this. Harvesting genes from animals and making hybrids, or clones for our own self-centered purposes, or the hunting and collection of animal parts for their so called medicinal properties, like sharks fins, or tiger bones. Do we really these in our life? There are always new reports of ‘organic remedies’ and drugs that are mass produced because the practical uses of one plant or animal was honestly studied by a biologist who’s information is stolen and filtered or manipulated. There is also the need in taxonomy to classify and name everything and sometimes imposing a hierarchy that is clearly not reality in nature. I am content not knowing the names of everything single plant or animal or fungus I encounter on my walks, why must we diminish the awe of something just to have a polished and scientific identity for every thing. I know friends who have admitted to me that what they are studying is totally irrelevant to what they want to do, and the amount of time it takes to learn is quite counterproductive. If I were to go the path of self-willed experience, I worry that I would never attain to a level that would allow me to be part of life changing studies or have wide published books because my bio would not list the name of any major university, so what is really for me?

If anyone already knows me in person, I am not opposed to formal study as such, and actually one of my aspirations involves actually being in a certain Scandinavian university, but this is really to gain the status of being a biologist, not because I feel I can learn anything more substantial than to go on my own, and imbibe the same knowledge from books. However I believe biology (and the other sciences) would be a great vector at eliminating religion, and our so called supremacy over other sentient life by exploring even further our comparisons, like Ida and the gene sequencing between primates and homosapiens or the link species in the tree of life, and how modern physics and physiology can explain with biology our similar patterns. So am I still a biologist, and can be called upon when a “qualified biological student of 5 years” is needed to take an expedition into the Himalayas to study blind cave faunas?  Or will a lack of a certificate be my undoing, for someone else, who may just be a botanist and know nothing about nocturnal eastern animals, where I may be a certain adept already. Or will it prevent me from traveling to remote parts of the world to photograph new species, because of being considered an amateur.  Biology is my choice of life, and I could think of no other way to spend a life to support myself if given the choice of studies alone, but this is also my worry. I certainly feel at times that I am in the wrong time period.

I’m still unsure, but maybe this uncertainty is my instinct and leading me to my own absolute reality. I do not want to be restricted to a desk my whole life, and become another faceless “learned man” or best selling author by conforming to a system, but I am like a sage crossed with a vagabond. I want to know everything I can that relates to biology, and the intimate connections it also has with other fields of thought, and to have still the utmost freedom, external to the fantasized lifestyle of 3 weeks vacation and 11 months in a laboratory. I want to have my name in the bibliography of a book or the credits of a nature documentary for my valuable contribution to progressing or creating a more pure understanding of nature in some special way through my personal works. So can my distaste for a career still nourish this possibility in this time of advancement. I still follow this circular path of unknowing and let my metaphorical hooves carve outward and forward paths where I can not only come back to the same visions and stand in place but follow on to be the biologist, and really take it for what it is.

Massak: Warrior Born Of Winter

I finally received my package for Massak, the Arctic wolf I adopted from the UKWCT. When I discovered the UK Wolf Conservation Trust I instantly knew I wanted to support their efforts, having always wanted to protect wolves in some way, but neverwith the outlet to do this. I felt it was an important life event to shed any effort possible to educate and save these fine creatures, as they are as much a part of myself as the earth. The package came with an elegant photograph of his wolven mane, and an certificate of adoption, as well as a vial of wolf fur, which I am planning to make into a special earthy pendant, and a zine called Wolf Print, which tells of their projectsdone by the UKWCT, like those is Russia, Nepal, Ethiopia, Greece & Croatia, info on the packs who live at their London park, and wolf biology around the globe. Also was enclosed a ticket to see the wolf personally on an open day and take photos with it. The wolves at their site are also taking on countryside walks in the Britsh nature. This also allows to them to grow used to their land, bathe themselves in streams, and run in the fields. and explore their wild instincts. I had made a post previously with a couple photos of him, and m/y mate also recently adopted one of his siblings called Sikko, but here is some words on Massak:

Massak is now entering his 2nd year, born in a snow storm in 2011 with his siblings, Sikko and Pukak. They were hypothermic and would not have survived if it had not been for the quick intervention and expertise of the team from Parc Safari. The trio were showing very little signs of life when found. They were hand reared and once recovered, they needed to be found a home so it was agreed the three young wolves would make the trip to the UK from Canada once they were 10 weeks old and come the only Arctic wolves ever in Britain. Massak is getting used to the sights and smells of the English countryside. He is able to hunt birds and small mammals while allows him to carry out natural behaviours. In the wild, the Arctic wolf has no natural predators and little competition for food. For the next year Massak should keep his coatof white, grey and tan. Massak is slowly starting to understand the enrichment activities he is offered, with stuffed hessian sacks slowly becoming a favorite. He enjoys playing, but only on his own terms. Massak is an independent and intelligent wolf who knows his own mind. If he’s in the mood to join then he will, if not he will lie quietly in his chosen spot, relaxin in his enclosure usually under the shelter of the trees or resting under one of the platforms. Massak is part of the next generation of ambassador wolves, and is involved in behavioural research.

My lupine nature spoke to me in a certain frequency when I was decided which wolf to support. Massak’s own nature of being an independent and relatively reclusive wolf mirrors the traits that I also nourish, (to mention in his photo he also looks like a tibetan monk). He is one of the ambassador wolves, used for teaching, and he enjoys the increasing focus. As with my art and my writings, I feel intrinsically linked to this ambassador nature, and the need to impart knowledge as does Massak.

Here are some pieces of wolven biology that I wish to share as well that and some that were written with the package, some of which I never knew before…
The common coloration of the Grey wolf is actually not grey at all but a mixture of black, brown and white hairs. The wolf is the immediate ancestor to all breeds of domestic dog, they share 98% of the same genes and through 10,000 years or so have become what we know canis to be now as a domestic pet. By smells produced through secretion’s in the wolf’s skin, and urine, wolves can tell the gender, breeding condition, social status, age, condition and diet of each other. Each scent gland plays a different role in the body. Body language is almost predominantly dominant or submissive in the packs. In active submission the subordinate wolf will excitedly lick, hold, and smell the mouth of the dominant wolf (something quite kinky about this).
Besides howling, yelping, and growling wolves also display a variety of auditory communication that represent different emotion or traits; barking, squealing, humming, whimpering, moaning and snarling, most of these are for distress, pain or hunger. Their howls also can be diverse and different frequencies or patterns of howls can decide if they are predatory, protective, solitary, recognizing location, and pack calls. Wolves adapt their coat color to the terrain they live in, as is seen with Ethipian red wolves who live in desicate sandy areas, brownish grey wolves residing in dense forestation, and white arctic wolves in the high north. They also seem to entertain a sort of energy transfer, with tactile communication, play, fighting and grooming. I recently learned that about 10,000 years ago, when human beings started to discover their predator status, it coincided with the wolf domestication. The primitive traits of hunter/gathering from their wolven counterparts helped man to learn basic survival skills, as he mimicked their behavior. They were kept captive for wild hunts, and used for their heightened senses to locate other prey.

I long to meet with Massak at his site, and invoke his spirit when his attentions are needed in my life.

Bioregional Atavism: RWLDNG & Human interraction instead of interferrence

I just finished reading quite a tome on the concept and practice of Rewilding, written by Dave Foreman, who is also a member of Earth First. Invented as a ideology and standpoint towards nature and the conservational biology of diverse life and landscape, “a method based on “cores, corridors, and carnivores.” The book is not only a praxis for the protection of the nature that modern folk know. It truly delves into the organic constituents of all this is natural and wild. The term wilderness in Old English means “self-willed land”, and wildeor is “self willed beast”. I consider it a tome because of the immensity of research, reflection, and scientific value it contains. Never have I been so profoundly affected by such an enlightened sharing of entelechy since I attained my copy of The Origin of the Species, or The Ancestor’s Tale. It is officially entitled Rewilding North America, and portrays in 3 main chapters the Good News, the Bad News, & Taking Action, each are subdivided into different ideas, ontological history of different time areas and the changes in nature that occurred, extinction crises, statistics of animal populations, ecological wounds, conservation efforts, and eco-friendly approaches for our evolving mankind.

Foreman is a true scholar, and doesn’t leave out the harmful disassociation that people have  acquired for our surrounding landscapes in modern times. There is a general egregorical mindstate that has been adopted by the masses that says, I don’t need to do anything about the earth, because someone else will for me. This is not the case for everyone, but at the time of when this book was written, methinks it is possibly the turning around from the natural entropy we have been experiencing, and more persons are now realizing through art, music, writings, guilds, conservation projects, etc. that there is an inherit need as sentient beings to protect the sacred. We are human animals, what I will call faunic homosapiensis and we are the nature we are affecting so strongly. With tools, companies, governments and destructive wills, our landscapes and less evolved ancestors are suffering.

The first chapter entails a huge amount of insight into how exactly our kind has damaged nature since the neolithic times. It is a misconception that the downfall of wildness only began after the spread of native Europeans. With intimate clarity, and striking resemblance to the harsh practices going on in our generation, Foreman reiterates the wounds. It can be described as depressing, yet vital for self-knowledge of the earth we live on. Ranging from hunting and trapping to habitat fragmentation to logging and industry to ecological health diffusion to introduction of non-native species to pollution. Each one is methodically analyzed and poured out in a non-sympathetic way, with all good reason. This part is really about an awakening to how much our evolution has changed negatively. All of them relating, to a distancing from our primal skills, and instead relying on new technologies, greed, corporate gain, and increasing luxury or convenience. Through these, taking advantage of our minds and using them in extremely negative ways.

The second chapter follows on the blazed trails of several conservation groups, naturalist protectors, public protests, and the exegesis of how to actually preserve with what we have available to us. A respectable amount of stories and purposes of different groups reflects the positive changes that we have induced towards returning low human interaction areas and park lands to their pure state of sustainment, or at least as close as possible. It is as if each sentence in the book would have actually taken weeks or months of research to even state with any assurance at all, yet it portrays how the modern efforts of nature lovers are forcing the depletion of resources and exploitations to a grinding stop. Much is conversed on the biological trophic pyraminds found at the heart of any ecosystem. That is, the interaction of flora and fauna in the place and how one can damage the other if you alter its natural pattern. For instance the way that wolves keep the elk at stable populations in Yellowstone, the elk in turn keep grazing at a minimum and the willow plants continue to thrive. If wolf are removed, elk increase and the plants die. This mutual connection that species have with others is linked in the ways we choose to exploit for ourselves. Because of the quick moving minds, and stasis or ignorance of most persons, still there is not enough of how seemingly harmless actions can be when continued over and over. We tend to think only in short time spans, and nature shifts over several generations of life, and great epochs.

Helpful maps are presented to show where certain land types are located, how animals correlate to them, and how they are changing by us. A term he uses, `permeable landscapes`is one of the most important factors of biocoservation efforts right now, and is basically the use of linkages in migrations routes on lands that may have less than adequate habitation conditions for carnivores or even birds, aquatic animals and insects to thrive. By creating the adaptations in the landscape, it enables species to travel, disperse their genes, and survive when their previous patch of forest, ocean, desert, or riparian area has been exhausted.

Rewilding is closely related to sustainability, because it does not only entail focus on making things better temporarily, it is about keeping the health of those changes evident and refining them. The practices of rewilding is a lifestyle choice, and can be a vector towards alternative energies even for urbanized regions. To learn from nature, and script it back into the books of our existence.
There are some really impactful documentaries I have unearthed as well that you might want to check out at your own interest. All of these revolving around Rewilding, Wilderness Survival, Animism, & Biostudies that can be found online. See: Rewilding Predators, Human Planet, Survivorman, Land Of The Lost Wolves, Man Vs. Wild & If A Tree Falls.

Fractal Universe

For nature, it may seem at times like an overwrought puzzle of flesh, greenery, interstellar matter, and complex rules, that would throw anyone into a hysteric state just to sit by and watch, but sometimes are absent minded to the elegant secrets and patterns that are buried, concealed, or entwined within. Ancient knowledge has imparted us with such invaluable truths, that reflect an infinite amount of enlightenment of nature’s beauty. We are all creatures of pattern, of habit, and whether we separate ourselves from other sentient life, or any other object for that matter, we are not thus. The inherit quality that we are all connected to everything else is something hard to comprehend, but seems to make more sense, right down to the quantum level.

All the atoms that compose us are linked, with an invisible force, and affecting one, alters another. I recently learned that of all the atoms in the universe, not two can share the same energy level, which describes the multitude of ‘things’ we see every day. Because they are not sharing the same energy, they communicate simultaneously with other atoms to constantly change their state. When you make a fire for instance and produce a high energy state, the entire cosmos reacts to the fire. It is a fundamental concept of quantam physics, that is coming to change how we perceive the world. The sacred geometry in nature are absolute shapes that define everything we know, from cascading mountains, to DNA. For instance, the platonic solids are the repetition of common 2 dimensional shapes inside minerals, and crystals. Every one of them under a powerful enough microscope will yield these beautiful geometric patterns. A spiraled form of ‘golden triangles’ (triangles with relative side lengths of 1, phi and phi) is the same shape as some of the sea dwelling cephalopods like the Nautilus. I also recently found out the importance of fractals in ecology and global ecosystems. The patterned fractal constituents of a single tree alone perpetuates through its entire forest. Meaning the size and length of one of your favorite redwood, or ash, or pine trees, and of it’s branches is closely related to the relative number of trees of a certain size or height in the rest of the forest with a likewise number of relative branches. If you wanted to find the amount of water a rainforest absorbs, you would need only have to find out the amount that can be taken in by one tree & since the trees are not identical, you would use the fractal pattern of the tree limbs to figure out the effect on the rest.

I have paying more attention to insect life as well, and observing their tiniest of features as well I can. I see a reflection in them at times, like they are just a micro version of the human beings I see around me, albeit with a different morphological structure and color. I observed a metallic green beetle seeking for food on a flower, and other hard shelled insects engage in a mating ritual. In nature we can see the many abstract but similar ways in which even primitive life do the same things that we do. Their behavior is mimicked in ours, and ours theirs. It is known that higher mammals like to pay offerings and show affection for their dead. Male birds of paradise go to extreme ends to impress the female breed with displays of color or talent. Wasps construct elaborate hives that rival the architectural grandeur of our ancient temples and pyramids. Deep sea fish and octopus think of ingenious and elusive ways to deceive others while hunting, like using luminescent anglers, camouflage, or scent. The way a dry skinned reptile evolved in the tundra millions and millions of years ago is the same way we evolve now, and we contain the same basic drive for life. What I am attempting to say is that as a human, I recognize myself as a being of degree and not truly of kind. It is inspiring to see how intricately woven and fragile nature is, and yet how perfect, fundamentally simple, and relative it is.

White Death Crab Spider (Misumena Vatia)

I found a broken nest of spiders yesterday in the most curious of states. It was built from mud and had since dried up to utter fragility and all of the spiders inside were dead. I took a small knife to the crumbling dirt holes of the nest and opened it to expose what was around 12-15 necrotized specimens, of 4 different species. All were of the genus crab spiders to my knowledge, with odd coloration differences. For what reasons they all were in the same habitat and nest was beyond me.

One of them I was able to identify and was most plentiful of them all, called a White Death Spider which is a pure white spider, 9mm in body length and approx 18mm in width. They hunt by ambushing their prey and subdue by a venonmous bite. The

spider then holds its kill and sucks it dry. The main diet comprises of flies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers and bees.  They also change color to yellow depending on which flower they are hunting on. It is believed to be at will. A picture of the supreme camouflage skills of the yellow breed is here.

This specialized anthropod can alter their color by secreting a liquid yellow pigment to their bodies surface cell layer. On a white background, they transported it lower below, so that inner glands appear white. A lot of them are found with missing legs from near death experiences with birds or mate fighting.

I thought the white spiders would have a bio-luminscent exoskeleton, but alas, did not.

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