PRATIE PLACE

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Squirrel Fishing

Squirrel Fishing
A new approach to rodent performance evaluation


by Nikolas Gloy and Yasuhiro Endo, Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University

These researchers write at their website:

We simply tie peanuts to the end of the string (using slipknot). No hook was used and no squirrel was harmed during this "research."

This led to the formulation of Gloy's First Conjecture that a squirrel will always give up one acorn if another one is thrown nearby.



This led to our current approach to measure the reaction of squirrels to a peanut tied to a long piece of string. The low end of the performance scale includes not running away from a peanut thrown at the subject,

The next point on the performance scale is the willingness to grab the peanut and hold on to it under moderate tension.

A smarter squirrel will discover after a while that it is better to bite through the string than simply pull on the peanut. This distinguishing tactic leads us to believe that the average squirrel performance in Texas is much higher than in Massachusetts.



The highest mark on the squirrel performance scale is achieved when a subject is willing to hold on to the peanut or string while it is being lifted off the ground. This state only lasts for a very short time and is very difficult to photograph.



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6 Comments:

At 6:57 AM, Blogger Badaunt said...

LOVE the pictures.

Incidentally, 'squirrel' is a truly horrible word to teach my students. They have enormous trouble saying it, and after saying it a few times, so do I.

 
At 7:16 AM, Blogger kenju said...

How cute; I used to have a lot of squirrels around my house, and they were fun to watch. Now I have 2 cats, and the squirrels are somewhat loath to enter the yard.

Re Badaunt: I can imagine how hard it is for the Japanese to say this word. I had some neighbors who named their son Glen and his Japanese Mom called him "Gren".

 
At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Pearl said...

I bet those pictures are hard to catch. Those bucks and does are bright. Glad the researchers did though.

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger The Complimenting Commenter said...

That is a fantabulous post. Very hysterical pictures. I love what time and thinking can produce. Bravo and well done.

 
At 11:11 PM, Blogger Craig said...

When I lived in Fiji all of our squirrels were mongeese, or maybe mongooses. They lived in our gutters, downspouts and drain lines, so each corner of the house had a little concrete bunker where they could hide, poke their heads up and plan attacks on the mynah birds. They'd leave a big pile of feathers whenever they got one, but they must have been eating something else too because usually the mynahs were too smart and too fast for them.

 
At 9:16 PM, Blogger Erin said...

I'm afraid to let my cats see this post. I'll have to hide the peanuts from them, or they'll be out squirrel fishing too...

 

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