Shelley Batts' Weird Science

I recently began reading Retrospectacle, a blog by neuroscience postgraduate student Shelley Batts that digs up interesting and odd science stories like a recent item about grey parrots, whose 100-year lifespan in captivity raises an unusual dilemma for pet owners: Should you raise a pet that's going to outlive you?

Other birds and even other species of parrots don't live near as long as African Greys. Why might this be? According to a study published in the journal Aging in 1999, the rate of mitochondial oxygen radical generation is lower in long-lived birds than in short-lived birds and mammals. We've all heard about the destructive capability of so-called "free-radicals" as reported in the news, and it seems that African Greys may have less free radical production than short-lived birds, and less oxidative damage.

Batts is up for a $5,000 student blogging scholarship that's decided by a public vote ending at midnight Sunday. Su voto es su voz.


If it were possible (legally) to own a new-born Galpagos tortoise, a person would have to set up a trust to provide for its care after his demise, assuming that someone who would steal a Galpagos tortoise would care what happened to it.

Harriet, a Galpagos tortoise reputedly collected by Charles Darwin in 1835 on his voyage aboard HMS Beagle, had an estimated age of 175 years when she died on June 23, 2006, at the Australia Zoo (which was co-owned and operated by Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, and his wife, Terri, in Queensland). Harriet loved the attention of men and to eat hibiscus flowers.

I always wondered if she felt like Billy on the planet Trafalmadore.

That first sentence isn't quite right, but you know what I meant.

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