Thursday, January 14, 2016

Red-Eyed Braindeer (twist of lemming #2)

It turns out that children's publishers do not rate for story lines in which the initial main protagonist disappears abruptly from the cast of characters after the first act. They are not well-pleased with "Zambi: The Outbreak Begins". Imagine my disappoint.
Effects of calcium deficiency
on antler Attire rigidity
Opinions are divided on the biological background to cervine carnivory. One school of thought is that calcium is what deer crave; they need it to rigorise their attire when it regrows each year. So they nom upon the shed racks from years before... also any other bones they come across, being none too scrupulous as to whether the previous owners have entirely finished with them. A second school has it that meat is simply a guilty pleasure, and deer like it even more if battered & deep-fried & smothered in salt... before the creeping shame and the self-loathing.

When not eating bats, deer enjoy nibbling upon little hatchling chicks and baby ducks.
Deer removed nestlings quickly (5–19 sec/nest) at night (22:00 to 05:17 Central Daylight Time) and left no evidence of predation. Although probably opportunistic, deer predations clearly were deliberate and likely are more common than generally believed.
On Rhum, Inner Hebrides, red deer were watched biting the heads off manx shearwater chicks and occasionally also chewing the shearwaters' legs and wings to excise bone. Killing of birds and the selective ingestion of bone-rich parts by ruminants has not previously been widely documented.
Also fish, though without pursuing the primary literature it is unclear how they catch them. It is easy to imagine stag astride a stream in spate, deftly scooping out the spawning salmon with their hooves in the manner of bear, but photographs of the scene in the pages of National Geographic remain strangely elusive.

Deer also eat lemmings. But who doesn't? Lemmings are central to arctic ecology, a comparable role to sand-plankton on Arrakis.
It is not so clear from the observations whether deer carnivory extends as far as brain-eating cannibalism. However, it is hard to see a better explanation for the prevalence of cervid prion brain-rot, i.e. Chronic Wasting Disease. It only remains for Charlie Stross to use this story in a Laundry Christmas Special.

In the interests of full disclosure we reluctantly admit that other so-called 'experts' incline towards other vectors of CWD transmission, primarily the soil contamination theory.

UPDATE: Connoisseurs of partly-baked ideas will appreciate Frank Bastian's notion that neurodegenerative conditions -- Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases as well as CWD and other prion diseases -- are really this one weird bacterial infection. It has a Bakedness Index p of 0.281 according to rigorously-calibrated and excruciatingly precise measurements from the Riddled Extreme Cuisine Laboratory.

Bastian has prior form, being an early supporter of the now-abandoned Squirrel-Brain-Eating etiology for CJD. His Spiroplasma PBI has not garnered support in reality-based circles, although references to it have been shoehorned into any number of Whackyweedia entries, thanks to the enthusiastic editing of one or two anonymous Weedia contributors. Bastian is probably wrong, but sincere, and it is not his fault that he has captured the imagination of loons like Ed Gehrman (who pops up in comment threads whenever anyone dies of a prion disease, explaining how Vested Interests have Suppressed the Truth).* Out of professional courtesy we link to his Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy website, where you can help fund his research.

Just among us Mad Scientists, Dr Bastian, paying the OMICS grifters to "publish" your work in one of their write-only journal-shaped word-dumps is not a good look. The money would have been better spent as a down-payment on a secret volcano island lair.

* Gehrman believes in Intelligent Design and in the HIV-AIDS-biowarfare conspiracy, and has revealed the site where the UFO crashed and left aliens to be autopsied. This Update has no punchline, but Gehrman will have to suffice.


OBS said...

I just discovered that deer do not seem to enjoy spent barley grains from brewing. Horses gobble that shit up, but when I put some out after the last brew session a couple deer came by, sampled it, and have hence ignored it.

rhwombat said...

OBS: the deer prefer to wait until it's fermented?

OBS said...

Probably. Also likely that they'd eat it if my sparge efficiency wasn't good and there was a bunch of sugar left.

Smut Clyde said...

A couple of NZ boutique breweries are compacting the spent grist into designer dog biscuits.

JP said...

Perhaps I have been a deer in a past life. It would only make sense, really.

(The eating fish part without remorse, particularly.)

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I feel helped. In a kind of weird, science-heavy, passive-aggressive and upside-down kind of way.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I wish the danged Bambis around here would eat more birdies and leave my mountain laurels alone.

Behold, new discouragements!*

* Bits of a ginormous ancient TV antenna.

rhwombat said...

ittdgy: Bird-eating Bambis? Depends on the bird , but you need to know your prions.