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My Family, Super-HeroRATs and other animals

April 4, 2010

Recently, due to my up-coming exams, I have been doing a lot of reading. The reading is entirely irrelevant to any of the subject matter that my exams will address, but it is good reading, nonetheless. There is an excellent post which I think you should read before progressing any further into my own. That post can be read here. It is really good and should be read.

Shameless plugging, like babies and puppies is sometimes attractive

In case you did not read it, it is about animal testing and the ethical considerations of animal testing, as well as Vulcans and other aliens. Overlooking that digression, we move on to the subject of my post. There were certain articles I read online and after some research, I came up with certain conclusions. Before progressing any further, I would also like to add that there is absolutely nothing about my family in this, I only wanted to let the world know or show off about reading Gerald Durrell’s excellent ‘My Family and other animals’. It is moste fune.

Getting back, we approach the aforementioned HeroRAT. Rats are not loved by people, it is a thing I often deplore. They aren’t such bad creatures, although they do lead to plagues and the like. If given enough love, they would develop into excellent pets and would definitely lead to very interesting scenes when introduced into a social situation like a party or a get-together. HeroRATs take the concept of rat awesomeness to a whole new level. They are, basically from a universe where Remy the Rat was cast in The Hurt Locker sequel about mine detection. In simple terms, these rats have an excellent sense of smell and are trained to detect land mines, which can then be deactivated. They have also given rise to a whole new type of cheat-code:

I am sorry, it was just too fun to resist

Basically, HeroRATs are trained from birth to recognize the smell of explosives using Pavlovian techniques, used effectively by Sheldon on Penny. The rats are then either used to isolate areas that might have many mines or to detect mines themselves. The rats are never in any danger because their size and weight is not enough to actually set off a mine. They’re also adept at diagnosing tuberocolosis and have been a great help in treating the disease.

THIS IMAGE IS NOT OWNED OR MADE BY ME. I took it from elsewhere.

Yes, they are.

Moving on, there are many other animals that can be used for the detection of landmines and explosives. An article about that and more information about the heroRATs can be found in this very well-written article.

The other animals I want to discuss are microscopic wasps. Researchers John Werren and Stephen Richards have sequenced genomes of three parasitic wasps and have come up with creatures that might be potential agents of pest control. These tiny wasps can be introduced into food crops (as parasitoids [brutal, aren’t they?]) and will take care of dirty pests like caterpillars which harm crops. And with further development, they might be introduced to non-native environments, providing a possibly inexpensive and organic method of pest control. This would, of course mean healthier food for people and a definite reduction in the cost of crop production. The obvious problem is what it could do to the native species. The wasps could instead become the pest after wiping out or significantly destroying the native pest population. This would have adverse effects on the ecosystem of that particular area. The most relevant and probably most widely known example would be of the cane toad which was introduced as an agent of biological control in Australia and has now become a huge problem.

But hopefully, the wasp can be developed as an alternative pesticide without having any bad effects. If research on these lines is continued, it could lead to a marked non-reliance on chemicals and would also lead to a better lifestyle. It would probably also not affect the earth as much as chemical fertilizers do. There are many arguments for and against biological pest control, but there is no denying that if it succeeds, it can change the way we live. As we part, I would like to impress on your mind an image that will, hopefully, stay with you forever.

Please give YOUR local rat a chance. It isn't a bad person

All for now! Byebye! :D

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