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Roly-Polies and Pillbugs – Cute Isopods Which Aren’t Bugs at All

Pillbugs, sometimes given the common name, Roly-polies, are known for rolling into a tight ball when disturbed. Like miniature armadillos, these little bugs are found all across the world, a cosmopolitan species. Their scientific name reflects the roly appearance: Armadillidium vulgare.

However, the pill bugs seen in North America were introduced from Europe.

Today, pillbugs are having a sort of renaissance, as breeders are offering multiple colors, and many species beyond Armadillidium, as pets. Their small size, cute appearance, and ease of care make them desirable, although perhaps an unlikely pet.

Later, we’ll show you our favorites from several species, and where you can get them!

Fancy, colorful varieties can range from rather inexpensive, to costly and coveted among isopod aficionados. As pets, they can live up to five years.

Pillbugs Aren’t Bugs but Related to Lobsters

Often, pillbugs are found with a very similar creature, the sowbug, Porcellio scaber, also called a woodlouse. Sometimes, pillbugs are referred to as sowbugs, woodlouse, or woodlice. It’s a bit confusing, and the common names vary by geography. In Europe, they may all be called woodlice.

Although similar, the sowbug can’t roll into a ball, which is called conglobating. Also, sowbugs are generally more agile. To tell the difference: a sowbug is flatter in shape and has two pointy appendages like tails. These tails stick out and prevent them from rolling into a ball. 

Both critters are isopods, not technically insects at all, but arthropods known as a terrestrial crustacean. Therefore, these little guys are relatives of sea-dwelling crabs, shrimp, and lobsters, not insects! They are the only land-based crustacean, having left aquatic life behind millions of years ago.

Notable (and Scary) Relatives

Deep in the ocean worldwide, related giant isopods can reach over a foot long. Although large, they are harmless scavengers waiting for food to fall to the ocean floor.

See a video of a giant isopod below from the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Gulf of Mexico 2017:

Another relative, the sea-dwelling tongue-eating louse, is rather horrifying. It lives as a parasite on fish, clinging to the tongue of living fish. Over time, the tongue is eaten away, and the louse remains in place. From there, the isopod functions much like a tongue stand-in for the fish.

See the fish tongue louse from Animal Wire below:

A Creature with Lots of Names

Although you may have your favorite name for them, these critters go by many names. For example, the common names in the UK include:

  • Armadillo bug
  • Wood shrimp
  • Cheeselog
  • Doodlebug
  • Roly-poly
  • Potato bug
  • Roll-up bug
  • Chuggypig

Which name is your favorite? Certainly, Chuggypig is ours!

Roly-Poly Pilgrims

At one time, there were no roly-polies in North America, which is strange to consider seeing how plentiful they are now. Today, there are so many that their collective feeding habits may serve to mitigate the effects of climate change to some extent. Notably, they feed on a fungus that otherwise releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

These terrestrial isopods colonized the New World along with humans from Europe and northern Africa. 

Similar to some fascinating sea creatures, pillbugs may have traveled the globe in the ballasts of ships. Sometimes, earth and boulders were used to balance wooden ships. Then, when the ships arrived at their destination, the dirt was discarded. Also, they likely found their way along with imported plants, hidden out of sight.

Thus, the pillbugs and their similar sowbug friends made themselves at home like wee crustacean pilgrims. However, these little guys seem to have had an overall harmless or even beneficial effect, unlike many invasive species. Wherever they go, they feed on rotting plant material, aerating and fertilizing the soil. Fortunately, they don’t tend to be harmfully destructive to live plants in the wild, though some isopods in planted vivariums are likely to eat your plants.

Breathing Through Tiny Arm-Like Appendages

How is it that Roly-polies are related to isopods that live in the ocean? Interestingly, they breathe air with tiny arm-like appendages under the abdomen called pleopods. These multi-purpose appendages act as gills and serve to catch food, for swimming, and brooding eggs.

A pillbug, though relatively adaptable, must keep the pleopods moist. Moisture tends to be more critical for related sowbugs, but they can’t live underwater for long. However, if they do begin to dry up, they can push their tail-like appendages into water droplets to replenish the gills.

Similarly, a lobster can survive out of the water as long as the gills on their legs remain moist. In fact, lobsters may survive transport better if chilled and wrapped in soaked towels, not kept in standing water. Otherwise, they may use up the oxygen in small containers.

See more about the pleopodal lungs from the Natural History Museum below:

A Pouch Like a Kangaroo?

As noted, pillbugs are sometimes compared to armadillos. However, they have a characteristic in common with opossums or kangaroos: Females have a brood pouch to hold babies. This pouch is called the marsupium, the same as with kangaroos!

Inside the Roly-poly’s fluid-filled marsupium, the babies hatch and go through their first molts in safety. In general, as many as 200 young can hatch and live underneath the mom for up to two weeks (depending on the species). Then, when they reach 2mm in length, they start to venture off.

By spotting the marsupium, you can differentiate a pregnant female from a male. Otherwise, males have copulatory organs on the anterior portion of the thorax.

See more about this from Animal Fact Files below:

 

Recommended reading: Armadillo Facts – 46 Interesting Facts About Armadillo

Iridescent, Infected Blue Roly-Polies

Blue is a beautiful color, sometimes seen in lobsters and crayfish. However, when seen in pillbugs, it could be a sign of a virus. Scientists from California have noted the Isopod Iridescent Virus, or IVV, that spreads among the isopods, turning them a bright blue.

Don’t worry; it’s completely safe for humans! In southern California, researchers have studied where the blue ones are showing up. Generally, sowbugs and pillbugs are shades of grey, white, dark brown, orange, and variegated. Also, the eyes can be colorless, red, or black.

Cute Cultivated Varieties

Next, we’re sharing some amazing photos with permission from Smug Buga reputable source which offers cultivated isopods for pets. Some species benefit plants in planted vivariums, aerating the soil, and consuming dead leaves and organic matter. Plus, their waste fertilizes the plants. 

However, those in the Armadillidium genus can consume fresh leaves and shoots. Thus, there is much to be learned about which species to choose, depending on your setup. For one example, some species prefer more humidity while others tolerate drier conditions. 

Also, the isopods differ greatly in size, with dwarf varieties and some that reach two and a half inches long. Below are a few notable varieties shared with permission.

Thanks to Smug-Bug.com for allowing us to share these pictures!

Below: Porcellio haasi “high yellow” comes from Spain

Porcellio haasi "high yellow" comes from Spain
Porcellio haasi “high yellow” comes from Spain. Shared with permission from Smug-bug.com.

Below: Armadillidium klugii “Montenegro,” also called the “clown isopod.”

Below: Armadillidium klugii "Montenegro," also called the "clown isopod."
Armadillidium klugii “Montenegro,” also called the “clown isopod.” Shared with permission from Smug-bug.com.

Below: Cubaris species “rubber ducky” from limestone caves in Thailand.

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Cubaris sp. “rubber ducky” from limestone caves in Thailand. Shared with permission from Smug-bug.com

Below: Armadillidium vulgare “magic potion” – a Japanese line.

Shared with permission from Smug-bug.com
Armadillidium vulgare “magic potion” – a Japanese line. Shared with permission from Smug-bug.com.

As you can see, isopods come in an amazing array of colors and sizes. Do you fancy a Roly-poly pet yourself? As one of the most beloved of “bugs” that aren’t, they are also surprisingly fascinating.


Featured image: Armadillidium klugii “Montenegro” with permission from Smug-Bug.com

 

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Researchers Stunned by ‘Plausible’ Sign of Life on Venus

Venus is often the subject of stories about Venusians and extraterrestrial life. However, the idea of life on Venus seems crazy. After all, temperatures on the surface of the second planet from the sun can melt lead at 880 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nevertheless, scientists have just announced they’ve detected a possible sign of alien life on the planet. How is this even possible in a world so inhospitable? Now, they think that extraterrestrial life could be living in the sulfuric clouds of our closest planetary neighbor.

A Plausible Sign of Life?

According to Reuters, the scientists found rare phosphine gas, which could be produced by microbes in low-oxygen conditions. The lead researcher was “stunned” by the unexpected finding.

“The researchers did not discover actual life forms but noted that on Earth, phosphine is produced by bacteria thriving in oxygen-starved environments. The international scientific team first spotted the phosphine using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and confirmed it using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile,” reported Reuters.

A study co-author, alien astrophysicist Clara Sousa-Silva, suggested that life was a plausible possibility. 

“With what we currently know of Venus, the most plausible explanation for phosphine, as fantastical as it might sound, is life,” said Sousa-Silva.

Below, see astronomer David Kipping discuss the exciting discovery.

A Stinky Pyramid from Venus

In an earlier article by Sousa-Silva, she pointed out that phosphine is also unusually smelly but her favorite molecule nonetheless.

The pyramid-shaped molecule of phosphorous and three hydrogen atoms is created by microbes and is noxious to most lifeforms on Earth. She was considering looking for phosphine on other worlds but never thought she’d find it next door on Venus.

“I love phosphine, but I would never want to be in a room with it,” Sousa-Silva said. “It is extremely toxic. Very few people have smelled it and lived.”

She elaborated on phosphine, which she could only imagine would one day be found on another planet at the time.

“One day, we might detect phosphine in one of these atmospheres. These would not be fun places for us; frankly, we might find them disgusting. On the other hand, the residents of these planets would probably find us disgusting too (a problem for interplanetary diplomacy to overcome). Nonetheless, if we find phosphine on a rocky planet in the habitable zone, where it has no false positives, we will have found life,” she wrote.

Why is the Gas Constantly Replenished?

Did the researchers find life? Well, they might have. On the other hand, it could indicate that some unknown process produced the phosphine. Interestingly, the study shows that the gas appears to be constantly replenished. But why? They aren’t yet sure.

Scientists know the smelly gas exists on Jupiter and Saturn but don’t suspect it was created by life. There, tremendous pressures and temperatures inside the gas giants created the gas.

Meanwhile, on Earth, phosphine is found in anaerobic conditions inside sewage plants, marshlands, and strangely, the intestinal tracts of fish and human babies.

Although it sounds incredible that Venus could harbor life, the idea has been around for decades. In the 60s, scientists suspected that Venus’ upper atmosphere could harbor life. Today, it appears they might have been onto something after all.

So, what comes next? The scientists say it could take years to find out conclusively if there is life on Venus. Currently, two NASA missions to the planet are under review and seem more likely given the exciting findings.

See more from Clara Sousa-Silver about the findings from the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology (MIT):


Featured image: Screenshots via YouTube

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Prince Harry: His Awakening and New Outspoken Voice

Prince Harry remains a favorite for many royal family fans, although he and his wife, Meghan Markle, officially resigned as working members of the royal family in April. Now, they reside in a $14 million nine-bedroom mansion in Santa Barbara, California. 

In May 2019, the couple welcomed their child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, into the world. Breaking from tradition, they kept the location of the birth a secret. Then, they announced the baby’s name on their official Instagram. 

On What Inspired Their Baby’s Name

In June, Harry and Meghan resigned from the charity called The Royal Foundation and founded a new one. Called Archewell, the new charity name inspired the name they chose for their son, seventh in line to the throne.

“Before SussexRoyal, came the idea of ‘Arche’ — the Greek word meaning ‘source of action.’ We connected to this concept for the charitable organization we hoped to build one day, and it became the inspiration for our son’s name,” a spokesperson for the couple said.

“To do something of meaning, to do something that matters. Archewell is a name that combines an ancient word for strength and action, and another that evokes the deep resources we each must draw upon. We look forward to launching Archewell when the time is right,” they added.

Thus, the arrival of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor to the world inspired action.

Now, the couple is spending time between North America and the United Kingdom, adjusting to their new lives. Royal family historian and consultant Robert Lacey suggests a rift between Prince William and Prince Harry proceeded the change. Hopefully, one day, the brothers will come back together.

See Archie-Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor in the video from ABC News below:

On Addressing Racism in the UK and the World

Since stepping aside from their royal duties, the duke and duchess are more outspoken on certain issues like racism. The couple is the first interracial marriage in the British monarchy, dating back over a thousand years.

For example, earlier this year in July, Harry spoke out about the UK’s long history of colonialism:

“When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past,” Harry said. “It’s not going to be easy, and in some cases, it’s not going to be comfortable, but it needs to be done, because, guess what: Everybody benefits.”

 

The couple has regularly praised the Black Lives Matter movement, saying it promoted an important conversation worldwide. 

Harry discussed his own unconscious bias: 

“We can’t deny or ignore the fact that all of us have been educated to see the world differently. However, once you start to realize that there is that bias there, then you need to acknowledge it, you need to do the work to become more aware … so that you can help stand up for something that is so wrong and should not be acceptable in our society today.”

 

“When it comes to institutional and systemic racism, it’s there, and it stays there because someone, somewhere is benefiting from it,” Harry added.

Prince Harry

See more in this video from Good Morning America:

On Awakening to the Existence of Systemic Racism

At the beginning of Black History Month, October 2020, Harry and Meghan discussed systemic racism with the UK’s Evening Standard newspaper. Harry says he’s had an “awakening.”

“I’ve had an awakening as such of my own, because I wasn’t aware of so many of the issues and so many of the problems within the UK, but also globally as well. I thought I did, but I didn’t.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also wrote an article for the Evening Standard, in which they opened up about Black History Month. The celebration first began three decades ago.

“For as long as structural racism exists, there will be generations of young people of colour who do not start their lives with the same equality of opportunity as their white peers. And for as long as that continues, untapped potential will never get to be realized,” they wrote.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

 

Harry related a personal story as an example of how he became more aware and wants to help make a positive change.

“You know, when you go in to a shop with your children and you only see white dolls, do you even think: ‘That’s weird, there is not a black doll there?’

 

“And I use that as just one example of where we as white people don’t always have the awareness of what it must be like for someone else of a different coloured skin, of a black skin, to be in the same situation as we are where the world that we know has been created by white people for white people.”

An Exciting Moment for Change

At this moment in history, Harry believes an exciting change is taking place.

“I think it is a really exciting time in British culture and British history, and in world culture. This is a real moment that we should be grasping and actually celebrating. Because no one else has managed to do this before us.”

See Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s discussion from Evening Standard:

On the Not-so Coveted Role of King and Queen

Although one might think being a King would be desirable, not so for Prince Harry, sixth in line to the throne. In 2017, he revealed in an interview with Newsweek that being a royal was a duty but not an especially coveted one.

“We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people.”

He added: “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be King or Queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”

Even so, Harry nodded to the remarkable Queen, now 94, and the monarchy:

“The monarchy is a force for good,” he said. “We want to carry on the positive atmosphere that the queen has achieved for over 60 years, but we won’t be trying to fill her boots.”

On Leading an Ordinary Life

Even when Prince Harry remained in his official role with the royal family, he claimed to lead a fairly ordinary life. Furthermore, he clearly wants the same for his son.

“People would be amazed by the ordinary life William and I live. I do my own shopping. Sometimes, when I come away from the meat counter in my local supermarket, I worry someone will snap me with their phone,” he said.

 

“But I am determined to have a relatively normal life, and if I am lucky enough to have children, they can have one too.” He added: “Even if I was king, I would do my own shopping.”

This coincides with what Harry told Dame Jane Goodall in the summer of 2019. When she visited the couple’s home, he suggested Archie would not have the life of a typical royal.

Goodall says she got Archie to imitate the Queen’s iconic wave.

“I suppose he’ll have to learn this,” Goodall said to Harry, waving.

“No, he’s not growing up like that,'” she remembered Harry saying.

On His Number One Priority

In a video call in August, Harry, now 36, explained what his new focus is now: Archie. Now an active one-year-old, Archie spends time outdoors with his dad while the family quarantines due to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Harry made the video call to honor of the Rugby Football League’s 125th birthday. 

“What I need is a few mini rugby balls that I can then get Archie involved with the game, because at the moment it’s impossible to find any,” said Harry, who is the patron of the Rugby Football League.

 

“I’ve got a little space outside, which I’m fortunate enough to have so I need to get him playing some Rugby League,” Prince Harry said in a video chat in August.

 

“Our little man is our number one priority, but our work after that is the second priority, and we’re just trying to do everything we can to do our part to make the world a better place,” Harry said.

Today, the family is reportedly very happy and enjoying the smaller community and pace in California. We wish this wonderful couple all the best.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with Archie


Featured image: Prince Harry in April 2018 by Raph_PH via Wikimedia Commons(CC BY 2.0)

Other featured images: Screenshots via YouTube

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67-Year-Old ‘Lady Ninja’ Saves Friend – Tells Intruder, ‘Not Tonight!’

An intruder made the mistake of his life when he messed with a self-described ‘Lady Ninja’ in Fontana, California. He may not have expected resistance, but wow, did he get it. Although she’s under five feet tall, 67-year-old Lorenza Marrujo has 26 years of martial arts training. (See video at the end of this article)

Marrujo stands 4-foot-11 and weighs 100 pounds. Although you might not know it by appearances, she’s a Black Belt in jujitsu. 

On Monday, Sept. 28, the intruder, reported as 59-year-old Donald Robert Prestwood broke into Marrujo’s apartment. According to police records, he is 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds. 

‘Back off, or I will hurt you.’

When he decided to enter her apartment, she was ready and willing to defend herself.

“Back off, or I will have to hurt you,” she recalls telling him, and he promptly left. 

Then, the intruder decided to break into the neighbor’s apartment downstairs. There, he found and allegedly assaulted 81-year-old Elizabeth McCray. She says he grabbed her and threw her to the floor as she screamed.

Lady Ninja Leaves Him Begging for Mercy

That’s when Marrujo jumped into action for her friend, who she calls “Mama Liz.” First, she called 911 and entered the dark apartment. Using the flashlight on her phone, she discovered Prestwood standing over McCray.

Using a cane, she was able to get the man off her friend.

“I squeezed myself between her and him,” Marrujo said. “I put mama on the side, and I jumped on him, and I was punching him and everything, and I had the cane against his throat.”

At that point, the intruder tried to get the upper hand, but Marrujo knew exactly what to do. Soon, he was begging for mercy.

‘You Have No Right to Hurt and Elderly Person!’

Marrujo described what happened next:

“He lifted up and tried to twist my hand, but at the same time, I twisted his and turned it around real fast, and he was saying, ‘You’re hurting me, you’re hurting me,'” Marrujo said. “And I said, ‘I don’t care. I don’t care what happens to you. You had no right to hurt an elderly person.'”

‘Not Tonight!’

McCray says she was shocked by her friend’s bravery and concerned about what might happen next. However, Marrujo was confident she had the situation under control.

“I didn’t expect that little lady would be that brave,” McCray said of her friend. “I said, ‘Could you be careful, he’s gonna kill us.'”

Marrujo replied, ‘Not tonight.'”

Later, McCray said she believed her friend had supernatural powers that night.

“Jesus was here and gave her power,” McCray said. “I wouldn’t think a little lady would have the power to do this.”

The Black Belt kept one knee on Prestwood’s chest and one on his neck, holding his mouth with her hand. Fortunately for him, the police arrived and took him into custody. As for McCray, she went to the hospital for treatment and went home the following day. 

Although Marrujo was certainly heroic, the Fontana police advised that people should avoid responding physically. Instead, they recommend calling 911.

Jennie Venzor, a spokesperson for the Fontana Police Department, said that while Marrujo was courageous, it’s preferable not to engage an attacker who could be armed.

“We recommend that you dial 911 for emergency assistance, which, in this case, she did that, and she also jumped in,” Venzor said. “What she told me is that her training kicked in, and it was like a muscle memory. She knew she had to help her friend out.”

‘The Master of Assassination’

After the experience, Marrujo told the Sun, “I’m the master of assassination,” when it comes to her martial arts skills. Although she managed to subdue Prestwood, she now says she might have gone farther.

“I would have done more damage to him,” she said.

From the early 80s to 2007, Marrujo trained in martial arts as she planned to become a crime scene investigator. During her training sessions, she enjoyed listening to the song “Eye of the Tiger” from the action movie, Rocky III.

“I needed it in case I had a close encounter of the bad kind,” Marrujo said. “I prefer to be called Lady Ninja.”

As for Prestwood, the Sun reports he was arrested on suspicion of elder abuse and held at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga in lieu of $150,000 bail. Later, he pleaded not guilty to the charge.

See the video from CBS Los Angeles below:


Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube

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Homeowners Catch Intruders in the Act on Doorbell Cams

Doorbell cams are advancing rapidly, and soon there will be flying drone security cams for your home. That’s right; drones are coming that can keep en eye on every corner of your home while you’re away. So, if you worry about leaving the oven on, you can send your drone to check while you’re at work. Sounds pretty cool but also a bit dystopian as flying digital eyeballs will be watching everything in sight.

Today, millions of Internet-connected Ring doorbell cams are already watching nationwide, partnering with over 400 police forces as a “new neighborhood watch.”

Although not without serious privacy concerns, the technology is protecting homeowners from would-be thieves and criminals. Not to mention, anybody or anything that appears is caught on camera, including your neighbors, both human and otherwise.

Visiting Critters Caught on Doorbell Cam

Now, videos of foxes, deer, raccoons, lizards, a moose, and even insects are appearing online. Below, a praying mantis ‘intruder’ is caught in the act.

Even more unexpected, homeowners got a visit from two very loud Sandhill Cranes!

The Neighborhood Watch Teams Up With Police

Eric Kuhn, who manages Ring’s companion app, Neighbors, told the Post:

“The mission has always been making the neighborhood safer,” said Kuhn. “We’ve had a lot of success in terms of deterring crime and solving crimes that would otherwise not be solved as quickly.”

With Ring’s mobile app, homeowners can watch from afar and respond if an intruder appears on their property. Then, through the app, they can share footage publicly and with law enforcement. Notably, the company can also provide users’ videos to law enforcement as part of the terms of service.

Certainly, these doorbell cams are making neighborhood watches more powerful than ever. As technology improves, facial recognition and flying drones will only make it even more powerful. Although some say it’ll all lead to excess societal paranoia, a lack of privacy and suspicion, the videos stopping would-be criminals in the act allay those fears.

After all, who doesn’t want to catch the bad guys in the act? So, with that said, let’s take a look at some recent doorbell cam videos!

Caught in the Act

Below, a Ring user catches the “Kayak Bag Snatcher” in the act. After the Ring operator, identified as Markus, lets him know he’s caught, the paddler gives up. It’s a pretty satisfying moment, and that guy probably will think twice next time.

In another case, a man named Tim went to lunch with his kids. While he was away, he was concerned to see two masked men approach the door of his home. However, when they saw he had a doorbell cam, they quickly turned around and left.

Next, a man named Chris catches someone sneak enough to try and steal firewood in broad daylight. The man acts casual at first but soon makes a getaway as alarms begin to ring. Now, the “Firewood Bandit” may not realize his license plate number is caught on video. 

Amazingly, Chris was 100 miles away at the time. Chris joins two other users who were able to thwart possible theft while they weren’t even close to the scene.

With doorbell cam videos like these, it’s clear that homeowners have a great deal more security and power to protect their property from afar. Perhaps, as more people use them, would-be thieves will think twice more often. Otherwise, they can expect to be caught in the act more and more.

If you think nobody is watching, well, those days are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. The neighborhood watch is going nationwide and will soon take to the air.

See more about Ring’s flying security cams coming next year from CNET below:


Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube

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Sir David Attenborough’s Timely Call to Save the Planet

Sir David Attenborough, the legendary English broadcaster and naturalist, is more popular than ever at age 94. Listening to his narration of nature documentaries, you can’t help but have a reverence and sense of wonder for nature. Since 1979, and over almost seven decades, he’s been a constant presence in our lives.

Today, the nonagenarian has broken the world record on Instagram, reaching one million followers in the fastest time ever, four hours and 44 minutes. Today, he’s reaching over 4.6 million followers just days after his debut on the social media platform.

With over 60 years of radio and television appearances, Attenborough’s voice as a steward of the natural world is more relevant than ever. Over his lifetime, he’s witnessed firsthand the impact people have had on nature. 

Maybe only Dame Jane Goodall compares to this kind of longevity and influence as a voice for respecting and preserving the natural world. Their voices are critical right now, and people are responding to hearing them.

Appearing in his first Instagram video, Attenborough had an alarming message:

“As we all know, the world is in trouble.”

 

“Continents are on fire; glaciers are melting, coral reefs are dying, fish are disappearing from our oceans. The list goes on and on,” he said. “But we know what to do about it, and that’s why I’m tackling this new way of communication.”

View this post on Instagram

David Attenborough has spent a lifetime travelling, exploring the wild places of our planet and documenting the living world in all its variety and wonder. He’s also witnessed the damaged caused. Saving our planet is now a communications challenge. We know what to do, we just need the will. That’s why we want to share this message on Instagram. Because there is hope and together, we can inspire change. Social media isn’t David’s usual habitat so while he’s recorded messages solely for Instagram, like the one in this post, we're helping to run this account. In case you’re wondering, ‘we’ are Jonnie and Colin and we worked with David on A Life On Our Planet. So, as well as sharing the messages he’s recorded especially for this account we’ll also post some exclusive clips and behind the scenes content. Stay tuned.

A post shared by A Life On Our Planet (@davidattenborough) on

On the Essential Need to Save Biodiversity

In a more recent post, Attenborough, with his classic voice, reminds us of what we as a species have forgotten. Discussing his new film, A Life On Our Planet, he talks about remembering our place in it all. The new film appears on Netflix in October.

“Nature, the living world around us. From the tree roots and fungi to the songbirds and great whales. It’s easy to forget that we are also a part of nature,” he said. “Our natural world is much more than just nice to have; it’s fundamental to our survival.”

Sir David Attenborough meme

Attenborough points out that the loss of biodiversity on Earth “is as grave an issue as climate change.” Recent reports state that 2/3rds of all wildlife has disappeared within the last 50 years.

“The natural world is fading. The evidence is all around. It’s happened in my lifetime. I’ve seen it with my own eyes,” he says. “This film is my witness statement and my vision for the future. The story of how we came to make this our greatest mistake, and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.”

On What Can Save the Natural World

Until his most recent film, Sir David Attenborough avoided talking directly about how people are putting the world’s ecological in peril. He was skeptical of climate change.

Now, he says the evidence is clear and is sounding the alarm. On his recent 60 Minutes appearance, he says, “a crime has been committed” against the planet. As an elder statesman of the planet, nobody has more authority on the subject.

“The way we humans live on Earth is sending into decline. Human beings are overrunning the world. We’re replacing the wild with the tame. Our planet is headed for disaster,” Attenborough says in a preview.

However, Attenborough remains hopeful for the future.

“There’s a huge movement around the world of people from all nations, young people who can see what is happening to the world, and demanding that their government should take action,” Attenborough said. “And that’s the best hope that I have. Obviously, my generation failed. We’ve allowed it to happen.”

Sir David Attenborough meme 2

See him on 60 Minutes below:

On the Importance of the Natural World During Covid-19

Attenborough, who is on quarantine in London during the Covid-19 pandemic, reflected on why nature is particularly vital right now. Millions of people are socially distancing and taking to nature to find relief.

“In the course of this particular pandemic, I think people are discovering that they need the natural world for their very sanity. People who have never listened to a bird song are suddenly thrilled, excited, supported, inspired by the natural world. And they realize that they are not apart from it. They are part of it.”

By saving nature, we are saving ourselves. 

Sir David Attenborough meme 2

On Moving to Renewable Energy

Unfortunately, man’s reliance on fossil fuels has led to rapid climate change. But Sir David Attenborough says redemption is entirely possible with a shift to renewable energy.

“We know ways in which we can get, from the Sun up there just a tiny fraction of the amount of energy that sprays on this Earth 24 hours a day, one way or another, for nothing. If we can solve the problems of storage and transmission, the world is ours. We have all the power we need. Why should we go on poisoning life on Earth?” he asks.

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If the world’s leaders would begin acting together, the problems could be solved and solved fast.

“The repopulations of the oceans can happen like that in a decade,” Attenborough says with a snap. “If we have the will to do it. But we require everybody to agree that.”

On His Goals for the Future

Today, Attenborough is using his voice to call on the need for change. For him, there is no alternative and he plans to go on speaking out.

“I have been unbelievably privileged in my life to go around seeing all these miraculous, heart-warming things around the world. I have no alternative but to speak about it,” he says.

Although the world’s problems seem dire, he believes young people and voters can turn everything around. Will they vote in overwhelming numbers and turn the tide?

“It’s up to the voters, assuming we’re talking about democratic societies where voters can have a say. Voters can determine that now, and that’s one of the reasons why I think we have some hopes, some fragments, some threads of optimism.” 

Sir David Attenborough, like Dame Jane Goodall, are the voices we need right now. Let’s listen and take action for a better future.

More from Sir David Attenborough’s September 2020 appearance on 60 Minutes below:

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A Practically Immortal Animal Is Spreading Across the Planet

For almost every living thing, aging and eventual death are an expected part of the life cycle. It’s the fundamental law of the natural world. So much so that the very idea that an animal could be immortal sounds preposterous. However, there is a bizarre creature that is considered practically immortal.

Aside from this immortal critter, other notable animals and plants live extraordinarily long lives. Even so, they haven’t exactly taken over the planet. Actually, most people may not have ever seen one of those animals or plants in person.

However, in the watery depths, this ‘immortal’ creature has been slowly, quietly spreading across the globe. 

Let’s take a close look at one of the world’s only practically immortal creatures. 

Discovery of an Immortal Jellyfish

Of all the species on the planet, only Turritopsis dohrnii is considered biologically immortal. Thus, it’s called the immortal jellyfish, a tiny, three millimeter long transparent alien-looking gelatinous blob. Another common name for the species is the Benjamin Button jellyfish, referring to the story about a man who ages in reverse.

Notably, these creatures were first discovered in 1883 in the Mediterranean Sea. However, its life cycle secrets weren’t known to scientists until much later: the mid-90s. 

 In 1988, a German marine-biology student in his early 20s studied the jellyfish while snorkeling near Portofino’s cliffs. Christian Sommer was studying hydrozoans, creatures that can resemble both a coral and jellyfish during their life cycle. 

 Examining the jellyfish in a petri dish, Sommer discovered the jellyfish could revert from the adult stage to the earlier polyp stage. Thus, it was as if a butterfly reverted to the caterpillar stage. Notably, the jellyfish refused to die.

From Chicken to Egg, Then Back to Chicken

Although Sommer didn’t know it at the time, other biologists studied his findings and realized what he had found. They compared it to the butterfly analogy and another: a chicken reverting to an egg, only to hatch again. Kind of gives a new twist to the age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Strangely, the discovery of an immortal creature didn’t get much attention outside the academic world. Today, scientists still aren’t sure how it ages in reverse, and there aren’t many experts who study them. One pre-eminent expert is from Japan, Shin Kubota, an Associate Professor at Kyoto University.

See Shin Kubota discuss the immortal jellyfish below:

The Immortal Jellyfish Life Cycle

The two main life cycles of these jellyfish are the polyp and medusa. While most similar hydrozoans die after spawning, Turritopsis dohrnii falls to the ocean floor, turns into a blob, and turns back into a polyp. 

If the creature faces hardship, like starvation or injury, it can take this strategy of self-preservation. Thus, it can regenerate its body over and over again. However, most of the time, the jellyfish reproduces and dies like other animals. It’s only when faced with a hardship that it seems to trigger reversion to a polyp.

Below, you can see the other stages in the cycle, from planula to adult medusa.

Video by SciShow:

Unique Powers of Transformation

Like human Stem cells found throughout our body, the jellyfish’s cells can transform into other types of cells, a transdifferentiation process. Unlike humans, the jellyfish’s transformation powers rare in the animal kingdom. Muscle cells can become nerve cells or change into egg or sperm cells. 

Studies show there may be other aquatic invertebrates with similar abilities. Today, scientists hope the jellyfish’s regeneration abilities could be applied in new ways to help humans.

A Slow Invasion Across the Seas

Of note, these transforming critters the size of a pinky nail are slowly spreading around the globe, unnoticed. One reason for their spread is they are carried inside the ballasts of ships. Now, they are found in waters across the planet, from Panama to Florida to Spain.

As the jellyfish encounter different temperatures, they adapt. They have eight tentacles in warmer waters, but in cooler water, they grow 24 or more. Also, they may have a bright scarlet bell when found in cooler waters. Using the tentacles, they feed on fish eggs, plankton, and mollusks.

Although they can breed the typical way for jellyfish, with free-floating sperm and eggs, the immortal species also reproduce asexually. One colony of polyps can create an endless chain of genetically identical jellyfish.

Potentials for Science

Many scientists don’t believe these creatures hold the key to immortality. However, not so for the leading expert, Shin Kubota. He believes these jellyfish are the root of the Tree of Life. 

“Turritopsis application for human beings is the most wonderful dream of mankind,” he told New York Times journalist. “Once we determine how the jellyfish rejuvenates itself, we should achieve very great things. My opinion is that we will evolve and become immortal ourselves.”

Kubota needed to care for his jellyfish’s captive population for three hours each day for over 15 years. Strangely, they are complicated to keep in captivity and seldom breed. Although they technically immortal, they often die and remain subject to being eaten or killed; not so immortal, after all, but still, quite impressive.

The Secret to Eternal Youth or Treating Cancer?

Studies of creatures like the immortal jellyfish could reveal something extraordinary, such as a potential cancer treatment. Now, scientists know there is more genetic similarity between humans and jellyfish than one might suspect. 

Strangely, we researchers who completed the first full genome sequence of a comb jelly found they could be our most distant animal relative. However, their survival strategies allowed them to endure 500 million years of mass extinctions on Earth.

Studying similar freshwater creatures called Hydra, scientists have learned about genes called FoxO genes also found in humans. Jellyfish sit alongside corals, sea anemones, and Hydra on the Cnidarian branch of animal life. It’s one of the oldest branches on the animal family tree.

Studies show that the FoxO genes in Hyrda play a role in determining lifespan. Unlike in humans, the genes are more often expressed, allowing the creature resembling a polyp jellyfish to remain youthful.


Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube

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Community Helps Mom Find SpaghettiOs for Autistic Daughter

Back in March, many people started stocking up their pantries as news of the pandemic panicked America. Items like toilet paper and cleaning products suddenly vanished. Also, canned goods started selling out as people wanted to make sure they had enough food on hand. 

For Crystal MacDonald, a mom of five in Attleboro, Massachusetts, finding the store shelves bare was a real problem. Her 11-year-old daughter, Ashlyn, is autistic and usually non-verbal. Due to the pandemic, Ashlyn’s routine was disrupted, and she couldn’t go to school. Upset, she started refusing to eat anything except her go-to comfort meal: SpaghettiOs with meatballs. However, the stores were sold out.

Empty store shelves via CBS Boston, YouTube
Empty store shelves via CBS Boston, YouTube

MacDonald, who stopped working to care for her kids, tried to make do with generic brands as a substitute. But Ashlyn immediately recognized the imposter and wouldn’t touch it. Only the real deal would do, and she insisted on the same canned pasta meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

“I tried all the non-brand name versions I could. I even prepared them when she couldn’t see the can, but she always knew it wasn’t SpaghettiOs and would refuse to eat them,” MacDonald said.

The caring mom explained why having the same food was so reassuring for her daughter.

“Structure is what centers her — it gives her a sense of control when everything else seems chaotic and overwhelming,” MacDonald said. “Ashlyn is most comfortable when she feels like she’s living ‘Groundhog Day’ every day. SpaghettiOs are a sensory experience for her.”

Thus began MacDonald’s “treasure hunt” for SpaghettiOs. The concerned mom traveled to as many as 20 grocery stores and food pantries a day to find the only food her daughter would eat. Unfortunately, her search was only turning up empty shelves.

For five months, she traveled far and wide to try and round up whatever she could find. As she did, store managers became familiar with her as she called back.

Then, a local paper, the Sun Chronicle, ran a story about food shortages in Attleboro. As it turned out, lots of area shoppers were buying out their favorite comfort foods, like frozen products and canned items. Delicious ice cream was particularly desirable.

After the story featuring MacDonald ran in August, the community began responding in a big way. 

Soon, the family’s SpaghettiOs shortage was abruptly over. Amazingly, her community showed an outpouring of support and noodles.

“So many people have either reached out with tips or with purchasing SpaghettiOs for us,” MacDonald told NBC 10 Boston.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, her friends and neighbors contacted her to drop off more cans for Ashlyn.

“We’ve gotten almost 200 SpaghettiOs so far, and it’s just been wonderful. It’s been such a blessing to not have to worry about finding them and feel so loved and accepted by our community,” MacDonald said.

From there, the pasta supply got an enormous boost. First, Ashlyn’s story appeared in the national media.

“It has been an incredible experience to feel so much love from our community,” MacDonald told TODAY. 

 

“As a parent of a special needs child, it can be a lonely existence and one that you imagine others to not quite understand. Especially in these times of such turmoil and hardship, it has been incredible to experience such kindness.”

The SpaghettiOs stache via CBS Boston, YouTube
The SpaghettiOs stache via CBS Boston, YouTube

Following the story, TODAY reached out to the makers of SpaghettiOs, the Campbell’s Soup Company.

Soon after that, the Campbell Soup Co. delivered 782 cans of the product that’s been around since 1965 to her front door.

Many of the people who helped could relate, having relatives or friends who also have autism.

“Our pantry is now loaded — it’s been heartwarming,” she told the Post. “A lot of people tell me, ‘I have a son with autism,’ or ‘I have a sister with autism.’ They can relate to what it’s like to try to give a child that one thing that makes them feel good.”

In an interview with CBS Boston, MacDonald reflected:

“I always remember Mr. Rogers and what his mother used to tell him is, “Look for the helpers,” said MacDonald. “To see the helpers in our community helping us –that is such an amazing gift beyond what they’ve given us; this gift of a real-life hope. I can teach that to my children.”

See the story from CBS Boston below:

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Celebration of Her World-Changing Life

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Notorious RBG from Brooklyn, as she came to be known, was a hero to millions and will always be. Although shy and of small physical stature, she rose to a level that is immortal and legendary. Thus, it came as quite a shock to learn of her passing from metastatic pancreatic cancer on September 18, 2020. 

To her law clerks, she was known as “the justice,” and was known for being exceedingly fair with a “legendary work ethic.” To a colleague, she was “tough as nails,” with a fierce intellect and attitude.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a force on the Supreme Court for 27 years, though first diagnosed with cancer in 1999. In subsequent battles with reoccurring cancer, she rarely missed a day at Court. Right up to the end, at age 87, she continued to do her work.

In her 80s, she became a cultural, feminist, and legal icon who earned a following from people of all ages. She fought tirelessly to ensure the Constitution represented everyone equally, a champion of justice for all. As a voice for gender equality since her first judicial appointment in 1980, she changed the world for women and minorities in America.

Her Final ‘Fervent Wish’

Days before she passed away, Ginsburg dictated a statement to her granddaughter, Clara Spencer:

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Rather Bader Ginsburg meme

Ginsburg’s passing leaves no clear court majority, and she wished that the next president would decide her replacement.

Indeed, in 2019, shortly before former Justice John Paul Stevens passed away at age 99, she told him she wanted to serve on the Supreme Court as long as he did. Stevens served as a Justice until age 90 when he voluntarily retired in 2010. 

In a 2019 interview, Ginsburg said:

“My dream is that I will stay on the court as long as he did.”

Stevens served 35 years on the Supreme Cout. Sadly, her dream was not to be.

On How Adversity Led Her to the Supreme Court 

In a 2019 NPR interview, Nina Totenberg asked Ginsburg is she had any regret. She answered:

“I was born under a very bright star,” said Ginsburg. 

She explained how her life circumstances led her to be nominated to the DC Circuit Court. That nomination led her to a spot on the Supreme Court. Notably, she and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor thought their lives might have turned out quite differently at another period in history. However, the adversity they faced as women guided them toward the nation’s highest court. 

“So, I’ll tell you what Justice O’Connor once said to me. Suppose we had come of age at a time when women lawyers were welcome at the Bar. You know what, today we’d be retired partners from some law firm. But because that root was not open to us, we had to find another way. And, we both end up on the United States Supreme Court,” said Ginsburg. 

O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, and Ginsburg said she was “the closest I ever came to having a big sister.”

When Ginsburg graduated from Columbia Law School in 1959, she found it difficult to find a job. At the time, judges openly said she could not serve as a clerk because of her gender. To make matters worse, not a single New York City firm would hire her.

“I struck out on three grounds,” she said. “I was Jewish, a woman, and a mother. The first raised one eyebrow; the second, two; the third made me indubitably inadmissible,” she said.

Later as a Justice, she said:

“People ask me when would you be satisfied with the number of women on the Court? When there are nine,” she said.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg meme 2

See her talk about this below from NPR:

On What Attracted Her to Her Husband

Ginsburg enjoyed a loving, exemplary marriage to her life partner, tax attorney Martin “Marty” Ginsburg. Time called their relationship a “history-shaping marriage of equals” that lasted 56 years until his passing in 2010. 

The couple met as undergraduates at Cornell University, where she encouraged Marty to enter the legal field with her. Later, she became the first tenured female professor at Columbia University and the first person to be a member of both the Harvard and Columbia Law Reviews.

What impressed her most about Marty was his intelligence. During an NPR interview in 2016, she said:

“I many times said that Marty Ginsburg was the first boy I met who cared that I had a brain,” she said.

Martin was so supportive of Ruth that he would ask her to work with him in a case of discrimination against a man. Together, they go on to win in the case of Moritz v. Commissioner in 1972. 

Notably, the case was Ginsburg’s first big win and began her long fight for gender equality. It was also the first time a provision of the Internal Revenue Code was declared unconstitutional.

Later at Ginsburg’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Ginsburg gave her husband praise.

“I have had the great good fortune to share life with a partner truly extraordinary for his generation, a man who believed at age 18 when we met, and who believes today, that a woman’s work, whether at home or on the job, is as important as a man’s,” Ruth said.

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On What Should Guide the Court 

In 2018, the biopic movie, On the Basis of Sex, explored Ginsburg’s early legal career. While Martin was recovering from testicular cancer, Ginsburg attended his classes and hers at the same time. At one of his classes, she heard law professor Paul Freund say:

“The Court should never be influenced by the weather of the day, but inevitably they will be influenced by the climate of the era.”

Ginsburg repeated the line to her husband, who responds, “The law is never finished. It is a work in progress, and ever will be.”

In 2018, Ginsburg spoke at Roger Williams University School of Law. In the “fireside chat,” she spoke about what she believed made America great.

“Over the course of our history, the composition of ‘We the People’ has expanded,” Ginsburg said. “It now includes the people left out at the beginning. The idea of an embracive society that not simply tolerates but appreciates differences, I think, is what made our nation great.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg meme 4

Later, she was asked which of the decisions she took part in had the biggest impact. She responded that 2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which made allowed same-sex marriage nationwide. She referred back to what she learned from Professor Freund while filling in for her husband at class so many years earlier.

“It’s another example of how society has changed, and the Court is catching up,” Ginsburg said. “The great constitutional scholar Paul Freund once said ‘the Court should never be influenced by the weather of the day, but inevitably they will be influenced by the climate of the era,’ and that’s what happened with the gay rights movement. People looked around and said, ‘That’s my next-door neighbor’ or ‘That’s my daughter’s best friend.’ There wasn’t that ‘we/they’ anymore.”

See more in the video from the New York Times below:

 


Featured image: Screenshots via YouTube

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Jane Goodall: The Voice Calling Us to Respect Nature and the Animals

Now 86, Jane Goodall, the legendary primatologist has a deep understanding and respect for chimpanzees, our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom. Since their genes were sequenced in 2012, scientists learned humans share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees. 

However, Goodall understands them on a level that perhaps nobody else ever has after 60 years of intimate study. More than that, her deep spiritual connection and respect for the natural world has made her one of the most valuable and respected voices for conservation and climate action today.

A Childhood Dream to Study Animals in Africa Comes True

Since she was just one year old in 1935, Jane Goodall received a toy chimp from her dad, which she named Jubilee. From her earliest memories, she was deeply fascinated with animals of all kinds. That led to her childhood dream of visiting Africa to learn and write about animals. 

Jane Goodall and Mr. H, her stuffed monkey
Jane Goodall is holding her toy monkey “Mr. H”, which accompanies her during travel by Jeekc via Wikimedia Commons, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Then in her 20s, Goodall was invited to visit Kenya to see a friend. The trip proved life-altering when she met a famous paleontologist, Dr. Louis S B Leakey, who later hired her. Soon, she was traveling to Tanzania with Leakey and his archaeologist wife to hunt fossils. 

On a recent BBD HARDtalk interview, Goodall recalled that important time in her life.

“He offered me a job as an assistant, really. Then, he became more impressed because he saw that I really had this thing about being with animals and watching them and could cope with the bush. And so he gave me this extraordinary opportunity. I mean, I would have studied any animal, and it was chimpanzees,” she recalled.

A Pioneer of Studying Animals in the Wild

Finally, in 1960, she and Leakey began studying wild chimpanzees near Lake Tanganyika and western Tanzania. At the time, she was one of the first to ever study the animals in the wild. At the time, the area was war-torn and had erupted into violence. However, in the forests, she found her calling in nature with a local guide.

Finding a ripe fruit tree and standing quietly, she would wait until the animals realized she was a benevolent presence in the forest. Fortunately, they didn’t show her aggression but instead developed trust and tolerance.

“I didn’t have any expectations except that I was jolly well going to get the chimpanzees to accept me, and I was going to learn about them. The big problem was every time they saw me; they’d run away. They’d never seen anything like this white ape before; I was peculiar to them.”

Jane Goodall meme

After months of patient observation, she slowly gained the primate’s trust. Then, by the following year, she had already changed scientific knowledge about chimpanzees without formal scientific training. 

The Discovery That Chimpanzees Use and Shape Tools

By her close observations, she learned for the first time that chimpanzees ate meat and used tools to catch termites. The first chimp to trust her, one she named David Greybeard, was using a stem of grass or a twig, inserting them into a termite mound to extract the insects. Greybeard would sometimes carefully strip the twig of leaves, shaping the tool carefully.

“…Quite honestly, it didn’t surprise me that the chimps could do that. On the other hand, Western science thought that only humans used and made tools. We were defined as ‘Man the Toolmaker.’ And so I knew that this was a very exciting observation.”

David Greybeard the chimpanzee
A chimpanzee uses a tool to fish for termites, image screen capture via YouTube

David Greybeard’s trust allowed her to gain an introduction to the other chimpanzees. Thus, Time Magazine named David one of the 15 most influential animals that ever lived.

Since those early days, Goodall has become legendary, traveling worldwide to speak about her experiences.

Today, Jane Goodall is one of the strongest voices in the movement to protect the environment and the lives of all things on Earth. In a time of extreme environmental crisis, her wisdom on our connectedness to the natural world couldn’t be more timely or essential.

On Her Dream of Connecting with Animals

While traveling with Dr. Leakey and his wife, Mary, Goodall may well have gone on to study fossils. However, she stuck to her childhood calling.

“I could have learned a whole lot more about fossils and become a paleontologist. But my childhood dream was as strong as ever–somehow I must find a way to watch free, wild animals living their own, undisturbed lives–I wanted to learn things that no one else knew, uncover secrets through patient observation.”

 

“I wanted to come as close to talking to animals as I could.”

On How Her Childhood Dog Changed Her Life

Goodall’s observations in Tanzania led her to pursue a Ph.D. at Cambridge. However, professors weren’t keen on her habit of giving Chimps names and seeing them as individuals with unique personalities and emotions. However, she knew that this was selling animals short.

“I shouldn’t have given the chimpanzees names. They should have had numbers; that was scientific. And I couldn’t talk about personality. I couldn’t talk about minds capable of problem-solving. We couldn’t talk about emotions. But you see, when I was a child, I had this wonderful teacher, and that was my dog, Rusty. And he taught me that in this respect, the professors were absolutely wrong. We are not the only beings on the planet with personality, mind, and emotion.”

Jane Goodall meme 2

On the Need for Empathy When Studying Animals

Goodall knew in her heart that what the professors were saying didn’t align with what she knew through empathy for animals.

“You can’t spend meaningful time with any animal, a dog, a rat, a pig, a chimpanzee, and not know that we are not the only beings on the planet with personalities, minds, and emotions,” Goodall said in her BBC interview.

 

“I was also told you mustn’t have empathy with your subjects. Scientific observation should be sort of remote and cold and objective. But this is absolute rubbish,” said Goodall.

Jane Goodall meme 3

Goodall continued, explaining that empathy is essential in understanding animals.

“…because only when you have empathy; you see something you don’t understand, and you just have this feeling to why it’s happening. So then, you can stand back as a scientist, which is what Cambridge taught me, and check whether your intuition is right or wrong,” she said.

On The Power of Individuals to Affect Change

Professors at Cambridge weren’t used to the idea of giving animals credit for things like emotions or personalities. However, Goodall knew they deserved more credit. Similarly, she understands that there’s much more to the individual than meets the eye. Each of us can make choices that collectively change the planet.

“What I tell the young people is every single day you live, you make some kind of impact on the planet, and you have a choice. Unless you’re very, very poor, which is when you have no choice, but, you know, most of the people listening probably can have a choice.”

 

“Think about what you buy. How did it harm the environment in its production? Did it lead to cruelty to animals, like the terrible factory farms? Is it cheap because of child slave labor or wages that don’t even enable people to live properly? Make those ethical choices. And when billions of people make those ethical choices, then we start moving towards a different world.”

On Her Spiritual Connection With Nature

In a recent NPR interview, Goodall revealed what gave her joy. For her, she finds a spiritual connection in nature.

“It’s out in nature, and it doesn’t have to be the forest with chimpanzees, although that’s my very most favorite. But somewhere out in nature, preferably alone with a very close friend and just feeling a part of it…”

Trees as Cathedrals

“… there are some places in the forest when the trees kind of arch overhead and it reminds me of some of those great cathedrals where there’s such a, you know, whether you’re religious or not, the atmosphere — because so many hundreds and thousands of people have been in there and they’ve been praying, and they’ve been in contact with what I call a great spiritual power. And that’s the same for me in the forest.”

Jane Goodall meme 4

On Disrespecting Nature

In her July 2020 BBC interview, Stephen Sackur asked Goodall if she thought humans had failed chimpanzees and other species. Since she studied them, the population has dropped dramatically from around more than a million to lower than 170,000.

“We’re certainly failing them, but in the same way, we’re failing our own future generations of human beings,” said Goodall. “We’ve been for a long time, stealing the future of our children, grandchildren. We’re still stealing it today. We have terribly harmed this planet. This has led to the climate crisis, which, if we don’t get together around the world and do something about it soon, will lead to the end of life on this planet as we know it. And that concludes us.”

Goodall’s important message is that if we learn to respect and live in harmony with nature, we could prevent the disasters we’re seeing today.

“It’s our disrespect of nature, of animals, and the natural world that’s led to this COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s led to climate change,” she concluded.

On Facing the Future

When asked how she confronts an uncertain future for chimpanzees and humans alike, Goodall challenged a familiar quote.

“You know this expression, ‘Think globally, act locally.’ Don’t because if you think globally, you’re so depressed. You can’t help it today. But if you think, ‘Now what can I do right here in my own community?’ …What you do each day can make a difference…That’s my hope for the future.”

Like all of us, Goodall’s ambitious plans to help preserve the forests have been put on hold due to COVID-19, but she says she remains hopeful.

“Nevertheless, I do have hope because of the young people, because of this brain that’s coming up now finally with ways of living in greater harmony with nature; because of the resilience of nature –give it a chance it comes back, and because of what I call the indomitable human spirit: people who tackle what seems impossible and won’t give up and very often succeed.”

You can listen to Jane Goodall’s recent NPR On Point interview below or at this link.


Featured images: Screenshots via YouTube, Jane Goodall at Mizzou Arena by Mark Schierbecker vai Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)