Friday, April 11, 2008

What does this mean about how animals were created?

Recently, we had a discussion in class where Robson brought up the discussion with a story about a camel and llama cross-breed, called a cama. I thought this was absolutely weird beyond words, so I looked up this "species" and found a lot more information that I had bargained for.

In addition to "camas," there are tigers, ligons, yattle, yakalo, crossed animals between horses and zebras, and even a wholphin?!? What??

Yep, it's true! The wholphin was obviously the most interesting animal to me, so I read on... it was a cross between a false killer whale and a bottlenosed dolphin that happened at Sea Life Park in Hawaii (both animals were leads in the show "50 First Dates"... the offspring turned out to be both bigger and darker than a bottlenosed dolphin, but smaller and fatter than a false killer whale. It also does not have the defiend "bottlenose" of the bottlenosed dolphin, so its appearance is quite interesting. Kekaimalu, the wholphin, was born 19 years ago. In Kekaimalu's lifetime, she has now given birth to three calves. One died days after birth, one lived for nine years, and the most recent one born on Dec. 23, 2005 and is still alive and healthy.

I thought that most animals that were products of cross-breeding were sterile, but obviously in this case, that isn't always the outcome. Well in our discussion after Robson mentioned the "cama," we talked about how this affected the morals of life, and where life begins, and it got me thinking, "Did God mean for this to happen? Did God intend to have animals cross-breed, or was that purely accident?" And then I got to wondering how often this type of thing actually happens in the wild, or is it mostly due to human factors such as purposely for entertainment, or naturally due to human's placing the animals in close proximity. Nonetheless, I think the idea is strange, yet fascinating because it's very interesting to see how the crossbred animals still carry traits from both of their parents. One good example is the liger, which looks like a lion, but yet it has stripes? Very odd...

Palmer Research Symposium: Animal Assisted Therapy

I went to the 11:00-11:15 presentation titled “Animal Assisted Therapy” that was presented by DeRae Bettin, Sara Schrank, Emily Grabow, and Trisha Beaulieu. They wanted to see if therapy was more effective with the use of animals rather than simply having regular therapy sessions. In their research, they found that patients who had animals in their therapy sessions generally were happier and were more responsive. This was especially true of geriatrics. During therapy sessions, animals such as dogs would be brought in with the patient, and often times, the patients felt more comfortable with the animals around. In some cases, the patients would not be talkative to humans, but when animals were present, they would find themselves communicating to the animal because the animals were less threatening. The presenters wanted to show that animal assisted therapy was a good idea and that it should be accepted as therapeutic treatment. The main problems associated with the idea was that in some cases, the animals experienced stress being used for therapy, so the animal’s health would have to go into consideration before they were used in the therapy sessions. Another hazard to consider would be to make sure patients did not have any allergies or health concerns that would be triggered by the presence of animals. Overall, this was a very good presentation, and I thought it was a really interesting concept. I definitely would love to have therapy with animals. :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Final Paper: Language in Dolphins? Why can't I start my field research now!

As I was writing my rough draft for the final paper, I came across some very interesting pieces of information. First of all, I defined what language was as told by Noam Chomsky, a man who knows more about linguistics than anyone else. In his opinion, there is no way that animals possess a language because animals do not have grammar, and alphabet, or words, to put it on basic terms. He goes on to describe in immense detail that language means having thought process and the ability to understand and create sentences never heard of or thought of before.

After I defined language by Noam Chomsky's terms, I then created my own definition of language. For me, language is basically a means of communication between beings that relays a message, and then is understood by the receiving party. Therefore, my argument is that intelligent social animals such as chimpanzees and dolphins do in fact possess a unique type of language for their species. I briefly talked about how scientists had already taught some chimpanzees to understand sign language, and how they obviously have the capabilities and intellectual capacity for language. In more extensive detail, I began to talk about dolphins. The main problem I ran into was that there were actually few extensive research projects done on the communication of dolphins that resulted in answers. What I'm trying to say is that I had a very difficult time attempting to find out what dolphins' whistles and clicks mean, because few people have actually determined anything about the communication systems of dolphins.

The fact that few people had done extensive research on the communication of dolphins completely sparked my interest. Being that a marine biologist is my ultimate dream career, I was fascinated that this is still a huge area of the unknown, and therefore, if only I had the opportunity, it would be a prime research excursion that I would love to be a part of. As I was writing my rough draft for my final paper, I couldn't help but be overcome with jealousy that I'm stuck in land-locked Iowa as an undergraduate student without the connections to take part in a research project like that. This situation made it hard for me to write a "research" paper because isn't the overall point of research to discover something completely new and unknown? Instead of simply researching other's ideas that have already been published?

Overall, basically what I'm trying to get at is that this research project helped me realize that marine biology is definitly a field that sparks my interest. I would love to be able to research dolphins in the field and be able to interpret what their whistles and clicks mean to see how their communication and language systems work. It is obvious that thay have some type of language because they are very intelligent. I just hope that some day I will have the opportunity to do research that I truly love.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Policy Paper overview

Since my topic is animal testing, the law that I am trying to pass for my policy paper bans most testing on chimpanzees. Because chimps are so similar to humans, I am trying to make an arguement that it is even more crutial to ban animal testing on chimps than it would be for say example rats. Although I believe that animal testing in general is cruel, I had to narrow down my idea to make a complex law for my policy paper.

Studies have been done researching and dealing with chimpanzees, and in one of my recent blogs, I posted a link dealing with a scientist who actually taught a chimp sign language, and the scientist was actually able to "communicate" with the chimp. Examples like this are prime moral reasons why testing on chimps should be banned. Most people are in agreement that testing medicines and drugs on humans before they are approved or found to be safe is unlawful, so if chimpanzees are almost exactly genetically similar, and are also capable of "communicating" with us, how is it moral or lawful to test medicines and drugs on chimps?

After my meeting with Robson yesterday, I am very excited to restart my policy paper with new information. I am also looking forward to finding interesting research for the background of my policy which I will be able to use to back up my actual law that I am attempting to enfore. The main area that I am worried about in my paper is my ability to cover all of the areas necessary for the policy paper, and to still present a strong case nonetheless.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

My thoughts on "Never Let Me Go"

In the book, the Hailsham students are told about sex, but they are also told that they are incapable of having children. I think this would cause a great deal of confusion for the kids being that they are only young teenagers. Most of them begin to experiment with sex, and Kathy starts to think that she has to "find a guy" to have that type of experience with before she leaves Hailsham.

I found the section we recently read a bit shocking at the way the students so openly talked about sex and the fact that they couldn't have kids. Most of the students' attitudes toward sexuality is that it is an interaction with someone special, but most of them thought it was something that deserved approval. Couples bragged about having sex, yet only two people had actually been caught in the act. Most students wanted to have "experience" before leaving Hailsham, so that when they found someone special outside of Hailsham, they'd be prepared.

Most students are probably slightly upset that they are not able to have children, but a few take it as meaning they can have sex as much as they want without worrying about kids. I think Kathy secretly wants children because she sings the song "Never let me go..." and she thinks about how a mother was told she couldn't have kids, but had one anyway because of a mircale. And the mother sings the song while holding her baby close.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Project Washoe" Chimp and Scientist

Prof. Robson gave me an idea for a topic, and this is a really cool site that I found for an article on the topic!

I think it's fascinating that a scientist was able to "communicate" with a chimp through sign language... what a neat way for research! :)

Thursday, January 31, 2008

After my conference today, I found out that I needed to narrow my paper quite a bit. Instead of covering animal testing as a whole, I am only focusing on the drugs or products that were testing in animals, were thought to be safe, and then were found to be dangerous in humans. Posted is a site I found for some of my information on Thalidomide: , a medication that was tested on animals and thought to be safe, but when it was used on humans, severe side effects and birth defects occurred.