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December 12, 2009

Comments

Leon  Garcia G.

Wonderful documents, both this one and the one about the pig trial. Are these trials a phenomenon of the early modern period? I wonder if there is anything comparable in Spain. I love the fact that the court treats the mice here as moral persons, and even grants a compassionate extension of stay to pregnant mice.

John Ballard

Reminds me of an Asian problem I never know about until lately. Bamboo forests apparently replicate twice a century, putting out so many seeds the rodent population gets out of control.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_9198000/9198744.stm

http://velociraptoronzebra.blogspot.com/2010/11/twice-century-india-is-attacked-by-huge.html

http://irri.org/our-partners/networks/irrigated-rice-research-consortium/rodents/feature-articles/impacts-of-rodent-outbreaks-on-food-security-in-asia

From that last link...

South Asian bamboo masting story

Happens once every 48 years simultaneously over large tracts of bamboo forest

* 30-80 tonnes of bamboo seed per hectare
* Flowering and seed masting began in 2004 in Mizoram and moved southwards, reaching the CHT and Myanmar in 2007.

* Rat outbreaks in these upland habitats near bamboo are still happening in Bangladesh and Myanmar this year and next (new flowering has recently been observed).
* Many farmers loose 100% of their crops
* In some areas all the bamboo masts in one year, in other years the masting event takes 2-3 years to complete, prolonging the famine. It is not clear whether this difference in synchrony is related to different strains of the same bamboo species.
* Although flowering in patches of forest is synchronous, seed maturation may be variable, earlier seed fall may result in larger rat outbreaks.
* The rodent species involved in the outbreaks have been identified. There are still many gaps in our knowledge of the breeding biology and dynamics of these species.
* We know precious little of their movement patterns and over what scale they can move.

John Ballard

Another historic problem involving mice has vexed Roman Catholic theologians for years: What happens to the Eucharist (the transubstantiated body of Christ) if a mouse eats it by accident? (The accident, of course, would be that of the cleric. The mouse would be eating it deliberately.)

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