An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of March 7,   2010
issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort adjoining Chichén Itzá Ruin in
YUCATÁN, MÉXICO

SENSES

Browsing my daily-updated RSS news feeds from various sources dealing with Nature -- that page is at http://www.backyardnature.net/i-rss.htm -- I noticed a trend: Several new studies reported on new insights into various animal species' senses.

I read about ants navigating with "stereo smell" and fish who recognize other fish faces based on UV patterns. Honeybees find their way using polarized UV light and a study found that, while humans have 10,000 taste buds, catfish have ten times that many. This prompted me to look for more information about animals with amazing senses. One good website was at http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/amaze.html.

What I read ignited two main trains of thought. First, my conviction was reinforced that all animals sense a complex and enriching environment around them. As such, animals deserve to be regarded as much more aware, vital and worthy of living their own lives than we grant them.

The second thought arose from the first: Humans are animals, too, so it's also worth reflecting on our own beautifully crafted set of senses.

One way to see our human senses is that they are exquisitely fine-tuned to enable us survive in the frightfully thin and fragile film of life coating the third planet from the Sun, which is a mediocre star in an unexceptional galaxy, which is one galaxy among billions, located in a rather unremarkable corner of the Universe. Putting our package of senses in that context, it's worth noting that just beyond teeny Earth's modest film of life there's no other place in the known Universe where our particular mix of senses is appropriate -- where we can even survive.

If we were on a spaceship in dead space and alarm bells went off, our senses would alert us to the fact that we need to figure out what's happening, and take action.

In the context of the Universe, our spaceship is Earth, and, indeed, all arouand us alarm bells are going off. Our senses need to be telling us that the proper response is education, and getting involved. Facebook Icon.