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Of Mice And Cheese

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World Animal Mythology As We See It

 

By James Donahue

 

An essay by writers Jonathan Brown and Jeremy Small took an interesting look at a number of so-called old wives’ tales concerning the animal kingdom. The writers came to the conclusion that despite the stories, mice are not attracted to cheese, dolphins are not any smarter than other sea creatures, black cats are not unlucky and ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand.

 

There were a number of other “tales” on the list.

 

We aren’t sure just how much research was done for this story, and how it was conducted, but we have our own perspective on some of these stories that we felt compelled to put into words.

 

Taking the story from topic to topic:

 

Mice Do Like Cheese

 

The lead issue was that mice are not attracted to cheese. Instead, researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University found that the rodents prefer food laced with sugar and even chocolate. The university brains said that a mouse’s natural diet is mostly grain and fruit so the creature would not necessarily respond to the smell of cheese in a trap. We beg to differ. Over the years we have had success with either cheese or a smudge of peanut butter for baiting mice. It is our finding that mice will feed on anything edible and they will not turn away from a morsel of sharp cheddar.

 

Sharks Never Sleep

 

The story that sharks never sleep probably stems from the fact that they must keep moving, with water constantly coming across their gills so they get oxygen. The same is true for all fish. The writers talked to the Florida Museum of Natural History to learn that fish have a central pattern generator, much like the human process of breathing while we sleep, that keeps the gills constantly in motion even while they are lying stationary. Anyone that has raised goldfish knows this. Since fish have no eyelids, it is difficult to tell if they are asleep. Our thought is that all creatures must rest, but when they sleep they remain fully aware and conscious of their environment. Man and perhaps mammals that hibernate, appear to be the few animals capable of drifting mentally into a subconscious state while at rest.

 

Penguins Fall Over When Planes Fly Overhead

 

This is about as silly as the story we once heard when visiting a turkey farm. We were told that domestic turkeys are so dumb if they are left out in the rain, they look up at the sky and drown. It just doesn’t happen. The researchers for the Independent discovered the same thing. They even went so far as to talk to the British Antarctic Survey who studied penguins after pilots returning from the Falklands conflict in 1982 said they saw birds toppling over backwards as they watched military aircraft passing overhead. They found that the birds indeed were startled by the aircraft, wobbled a bit, but they never toppled when planes passed over.

 

Dolphins Are Intelligent

 

The writers relied on university professors to explain that even though they have larger brains than humans and can be trained to do tricks and react to human contact, they are not as smart as some people would think. The brains, the university professors explain, are filled with a substance that regulates brain temperature in the cold water, and that not all of the brain is filled with neurons needed for intelligence. These “professors” and the writers of this article obviously did not read Man and Dolphin by the late Dr. John C. Lilly, who discovered that Dolphins are not only smart, but possibly smarter than humans. Lilly considered the dolphin in the way we might think of a highly intelligent alien mind living in a watery world very different from our own. He even discovered ways to communicate with dolphins and even recorded them mimicking human words.

 

The Cat Myths

 

The story broke the mythology about cats into three parts; black cats are unlucky, cats can’t swim and cats always land on their feet. They overlooked the one that claims that cats have nine lives. The conclusion reached by the writers is that bad luck linked to black cats is pure superstition, that cats usually don’t like water but they can swim, and yes, cats are agile and can usually twist around to land on their feet when they fall, but they don’t always escape injury. We might go farther with these tales. The black cat story is ancient, and probably dates back to Egyptian mythology. We have had black cats in our home over the years and found them to be generally smarter, if not more psychic than most other cats. We believe all cats live in a different dimension and unlike humans, can see the spiritual world beyond the veil. This is why they are beloved by psychics and generally disliked by purely left-brained people. Black cats appear smarter because they have been hunted, thus only the clever ones remain.

 

Ostriches Bury Their Heads In The Sand

 

This old story about the largest living bird on Earth is a strange myth with a ring of truth. The ostrich is one of the few birds on the planet that cannot fly. Even though it is considered the fastest animal on two legs, the ostrich reacts to danger by sitting on its nest and lowering its head toward the ground. Some believe it does this as a form of disguise, so that a predator might mistake the bird’s large oval body for a termite mound or bush. We believe it may have something to do with protecting the nest. Only politicians bury their heads in the sand.