Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Echidna, mon amour

Ahh yes. Another reader nominated creature, this time from my friend Jaina. This week's update features a questionably cute (Is it? I just can't decide. I have to go with "yes". His funny, stumpy lil' arms and legs just make me want to visualize him having a tea party, or going sailing in a toy boat with a frog and a pygmy jerboa, or something that British animals do.), but 100% smart little dude known as the echidna. This photo (and this info)come from the NY Times, who chose to caption the image with the quote "Muse Opiang was working as a field research officer when he became seized by a passion for the long-beaked echidna," which for some reason strikes me as really funny. "Passion," maybe. Like, dude's all into painting the echidna's toenails for her or turning up sappy love songs that remind him of echidnas when he's in his car.

So why is this interesting? For one thing, echidnas have a larger capacity for reasoning and remembering than humans. "Among humans, the neocortex that allows us to reason and remember accounts for 30 percent of the brain; in echidnas, that figure is 50 percent," the article says. Also they lay eggs, which strikes me as kind of wacky for some reason. Check out the article here. It's worth it for the line about echidnas being made up of Babar and a boatload of other creatures. Babar! He made Arby's fun.

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