Ten birds and one bun


This video is about birds near a railway in Dutch Zeeland province in 2015.

This morning, there was a bun on the railway platform.

A feral pigeon was defending the big piece of bread rather effectively against a jackdaw and a black-headed gull in winter plumage, by standing on it.

However, then the number of jackdaws rose to five, meaning they got their shares of bread now as well.

Until a carrion crow arrived. The smaller birds, including now two gulls, shied away from this bigger one. Though, whenever train passengers came close, the pigeon profited from being less afraid of humans than the crow.

Later, the carrion crow flew away. Now, two pigeons around the bun. Then, my train arrived.

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Boiling lobsters alive banned in Switzerland


This video says about itself:

11 January 2018

The Guardian has reported that as of March 1 in Switzerland “the practice of plunging live lobsters into boiling water, which is common in restaurants, is no longer permitted.” The new ban is part of a wider overhaul of Swiss animal protection laws. As David Foster Wallace points out in “Consider the Lobster” when the animals are boiled alive they flail and cling to the pot trying to escape.

Will these new laws in Switzerland also ban eating cat and dogs, still legal now?

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Switzerland forbids boiling lobsters alive, should we also do that?

From the aquarium into a pan of boiling water with claws handcuffed. It will no longer be possible in Switzerland in two months; then it will be illegal to boil lobsters alive. From now on, they must first be anesthetized by means of a power surge. …

The Party for the Animals has been working for years for a lobster-boiling ban in the Netherlands. MP Wassenberg says that several studies have shown that lobsters can feel pain. “This is a reason for Switzerland to forbid the live boiling of lobsters without prior anesthetic. The Party for the Animals has been calling for such a ban for years, but motions for that could not count on sufficient support.”

European Commissioner Andriukaitis argued earlier in a response to questions from the party that the live boiling of crustaceans and the placing of seawater crustaceans into fresh water is painful and can cause stress. Afterwards, Wassenberg asked during the budget debate in the House of Representatives whether the minister wants to take measures against it.

Can earthworms survive on Mars?


This 6 October 2017 video from the Netherlands is called Earthworm in Mars soil simulant.

From Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands:

Earthworms can reproduce in Mars soil simulant

November 27, 2017

Two young worms are the first offspring in a Mars soil experiment at Wageningen University & Research. Biologist Wieger Wamelink found them in a Mars soil simulant that he obtained from NASA. At the start he only added adult worms. The experiments are crucial in the study that aims to determine whether people can keep themselves alive at the red planet by growing their own crops on Mars soils.

To feed future humans on Mars a sustainable closed agricultural ecosystem is a necessity. Worms will play a crucial role in this system as they break down and recycle dead organic matter. The poop and pee of the (human) Martian will also have to be used to fertilise the soil, but for practical and safety reasons we are presently using pig slurry. We have since been observing the growth of rucola (rocket) in Mars soil simulant provided by NASA to which worms and slurry have been added. ‘Clearly the manure stimulated growth, especially in the Mars soil simulant, and we saw that the worms were active. However, the best surprise came at the end of the experiment when we found two young worms in the Mars soil simulant’, said Wieger Wamelink of Wageningen University & Research.

‘The positive effect of adding manure was not unexpected’, added Wamelink, ‘but we were surprised that it makes Mars soil simulant outperform Earth silver sand’. We added organic matter from earlier experiments to both sands. We added the manure to a sample of the pots and then, after germination of the rucola, we added the worms. We therefore ended up with pots with all possible combinations with the exception of organic matter which was added to all of the pots.

Worms are very important for a healthy soil, not only on Earth but also in future indoor gardens on Mars or the moon. They thrive on dead organic matter such as old plant remains, which they eat, chew and mix with soil before they excrete it. This poo still contains organic matter that is broken down further by bacteria, thus releasing nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium for use by the plants. By digging burrows the worms also aerate and improve the structure of the soil, making watering the plants more effective. The latter proved to be very important in earlier experiments where water would not easily penetrate the soil. Wamelink confirmed that: ‘the application of worms will solve this problem’.

To feed the future humans living on Mars or the moon the project Food for Mars and Moon aims to set up a sustainable agricultural system. It is based on the presence of soils and water (in the form of ice) on both Mars and the moon, and for Earth-based research we are using soil simulants delivered by NASA. The simulants originate from a volcano in Hawaii (Mars) and a desert in Arizona (moon). The experiments started in 2013. Nowadays we are able to grow over a dozen crops, the only species that has resisted our efforts so far is spinach. However crops such as green beans, peas, radish, tomato, potato, rucola, carrot and garden cress all seem possible. The crops were analysed for heavy metals and also alkaloids to check their safety for human consumption. After passing these tests we organized a dinner based on the harvested crops for the people that supported our research via the crowdfunding campaign.

For the first time, researchers have seen life rebounding in the world’s driest [Atacama] desert, demonstrating that it could also be lurking in the soils of Mars: here.