Elk County Forum

General Category => Miscellaneous => Topic started by: Wake-up! on April 08, 2019, 03:15:03 PM

Title: What Do We Know?
Post by: Wake-up! on April 08, 2019, 03:15:03 PM
Author and legendary conservationist Lawrence Anthony died March 2, 2012 at his home within the Thula Thula Game Reserve in Africa. Almost immediately after his death, a unique event unfolded. Two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zulu bush until they reached the Anthony house. Lawrence was the conservationist who had saved the elephants' lives several years before when they had been destined to be slaughtered by hunters and government officials.

There are two elephant herds at Thula Thula. According to his son Dylan, both arrived at the Anthony family compound shortly after Anthony's death. They had not visited the house for a year and a half. The first herd arrived Sunday. It must have taken them twelve hours to arrive. The second herd arrived the next day, after a thirty-six hour trek. They all hung around for about two days before making their way back into the bush.

What a fun story! Animal behaviorists have claimed for some time that elephants definitely mourn the death of other elephants. And tame elephants have been known to quit eating and die when their human owner of many years has died.

But here we have two herds of elephants that somehow became conscious of the death of a human. How does a human death register in elephant consciousness? They held a vigil for that human. Elephants traveled for hours to mourn this man's death? Or maybe to quietly celebrate that man's life? Or maybe to help him cross over? Or do we just want to assign the event to coincidence?

Are humans ever aware when elephants die? Besides some sets of twins, how many humans are instantly aware when another human dies? Who has greater consciousness, elephants, or humans? Humans find out about another's death by a phone call. Apparently elephants have telepathic telephones. The original smart phone?

Lawrence Anthony wrote a very engaging book, "The Elephant Whisperer". It tells a story of how little we do know.
Title: Re: What Do We Know?
Post by: Wake-up! on April 27, 2019, 07:12:39 PM
There is an interesting flower that grows in the Serengeti Plains of Africa. It stands several feet above the native grasses, blowing softly in the wind. Somewhat like North America's native lupine in initial appearance, its inflorescence is long and cylindrical, with many deep blue flowers and a few cream-colored terminal flowers. It is so beautiful it begs touching and picking. Soon as the stalk is touched the flowers take flight and leave you holding a naked stem of last year's grass. After all, it is not a flower, it is a colony of moths on a grass stem, imitating a flower.

Entomologists have studied the moths. They fly around and light on another naked stalk. They alight in the identical pattern each and every time. The colony has a hierarchy, A through Z, although in reality there are more than 26 individuals in each colony. Each A through Z lands in the same spot relative to the other individuals every time. The alpha individual lands on top of the stalk. This individual is completely cream-colored. The next five or so individuals are partly cream-colored and partly blue. The remainder are all blue. They land in the same spiral pattern each and every time.

Science calls this imitation of another 'mimicry', an adaptive mechanism used primarily to avoid predation. Mimicry is classically along the lines of a non-poisonous snake looking like a poisonous snake. Science is somewhat reluctant to call a colony of moths imitating flowers mimicry because it stretches the limits of scientific explainability. Stretches its limits because science has a problem thinking that 'lower' life forms have consciousness. Stretches its limits because there is no flower in the Serengeti that the moth colony mimics. The colony has created a flower!

The big question is how have a colony of moths adapted to look like a non-existent plant? How does evolutionary theory account for this? Is it coincidence, if not natural selection, that a colony of moths looks like a plant? Maybe. Maybe there is no mimicry.

If consciousness is brought into the discussion, maybe the moths know something about the world of plants. Maybe they understand that birds do not eat flowers. At least the risk of predation is reduced when not in flight. Maybe 'resting' in the open avoids insect predation in otherwise shared habitats.

The questions and possibilities might go on for paragraphs. Beyond that the colonies are ineffably beautiful, just as elephant consciousness of a human death is. They really need no explanation. Attempted explanations belittle their creation and their magic.

Title: Re: What Do We Know?
Post by: Wake-up! on June 09, 2019, 04:59:51 PM
Elephants mourning their dead.

Title: Re: What Do We Know?
Post by: Wake-up! on August 11, 2019, 11:18:42 AM
Another remarkable flower story.

There's an orchid in Australia called a hammer orchid. Its survival is ultimately dependent upon an insect. That's not an uncommon situation as many plants are pollinated by insects, and, in this way, dependent on them for reproductive success. What is unique, or at least very rare, is that the hammer orchid is pollinated by only one insect, the Thynnid Wasp.

More specifically, this orchid is only pollinated by the male Thynnid Wasp. This is the only insect physically capable of transferring pollen from anthers to styles. Without the Thynnid Wasp the hammer orchid species would not be able to reproduce its kind. What is the possible natural selection mechanism that would make reproduction and survival so dependent upon the male sex of a single other species? What if the wasps were wiped out by frost or blight? How does Darwin's survival of the fittest work in this case?

But, the story is even more entertaining. The wasp does not pollinate the orchid while simply gathering nectar. Pollination occurs while the wasp is having sex with the orchid. Seriously, the orchid attracts the male wasp because the orchid's appearance emulates the female wasp . . . not only emulates the female wasp, but emulates her in a copulatory position! I kid you not. The male wasp 'sees' the orchid as a female wasp in the 'proper' receptive position and pollinates 'her' while having sex, at least in his 'mind'.

How can the natural selection process, whether it be an accident of genetic mutation or a response to environmental pressures, be held accountable for this unique relationship between plant and animal? What are the odds of such a mutation? What possible environmental pressures could come to bear such results?

It is unlikely science can honestly answer those questions. Science fails because science has not learned a way to look at consciousness. Science is so attached to the mind of mankind, it fails to look beyond it. To understand the orchid-wasp relationship, consciousness must be studied. Before it can be studied, the student must accept that the orchid and the wasp have consciousness. And that is a difficult task in our doctrine-oriented academia that elevates man to the highest standing among creatures. Yet, the orchid quite obviously 'knows' about a female wasp that has never left her hive. The orchid 'knows' enough to emulate her reproductive technique. The orchid has even timed its own pollination to coincide with the wasp's breeding period. And what of the wasp's consciousness of the orchid? That hasn't been explored either. Do you suppose the male wasp feels guilt for cheating on the queen of the hive?