‘Harvesting the guano of insectivorous bats: is it sustainable?’

August 3rd, 2015

JournalOTTA new paper in the Journal of Threatened Taxa, Vol 7, No 6 (2015) asks, and answers the question: ‘Harvesting the guano of insectivorous bats: is it sustainable?’ Investigators Thet Thet and Khin Mya Mya focused their studies on one cave, in a complex of four caves on Sudaung mountain, Sintkaing Township, Mandalay Region (21044.941’N & 96015.570’E, 314m), Myanmar.


“The licence to remove guano from the Sudaung cave complex is issued annually by the Forestry Department and has been held by one family for over 40 years. This, in itself, suggests that the rate of guano removal has not exceeded the rate of deposition, and that harvesting has been carried out sustainably. It also suggests that the disturbance associated with guano removal has no adverse effects on the numbers of bats occupying the caves. The Forestry Department does not impose a quota and the collectors remove all available guano.”

Bonus task (optional) : List possible consequences if the guano collection exceeded the rate of deposition.

Also see, cited in the paper and of poss. interest to nominative determinists : ‘Conservation ecology of cave bats. In: Kingston, T. & C.C. Voigt (eds.). [in press, sorry no link yet] Bats in the Anthropocene – conservation of bats in a changing world.’ Springer, New York. By Dr. Furey and Professor Racey.

“An opera set to ruffle a few feathers”

August 3rd, 2015

Excitement, perhaps spiced with dread and ornamented with down, mounts in London anticipating the performances of the Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera, on 8 and 9 August.

Tom Whipple reports, in The Times, under the headline “An opera set to ruffle a few feathers“:



See here for background, and here to get tickets (if any are still available).

As you likely are full-well aware, the incident on which the opera is based resulted in, among other things, the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for biology.

The social events objectives of The Worshipful Company of Actuaries

August 2nd, 2015

Question: What are the social events objectives of The Worshipful Company of Actuaries?

worshipful logo

Answer: The answer appears on the web site of The Worshipful Company of Actuaries, on the page devoted to “Social Events Objectives”, in a downloadable PDF document named “Social Events Objectives”. Here is that document, reproduced in its entirety (and shrunken a bit, so it fits on this screen):



Neuromarketing challenge: dinosaur automobiles

August 1st, 2015

We pose this challenge about dinosaurs and automobiles and marketing.

[BACKGROUND: Because the word “marketing” is no longer as futuristic as it was in the past, the still-kinda-new field of neuromarketing (read about it here, here, and here, or use your own cogno-intellectual powers to come up with your own definition)  is the place to go for innovative confabulations.]

Here is our Challenge to Marketers and Car Manufacturers— Do an experiment to answer the question: Would automobiles sell much better if more models were named after dinosaurs?

(Self-tested!) Intravenous garlic juice herpes treatment (new patent)

July 31st, 2015

Inventor Behnam Azizkhani describes a newly patented (US 9,089,597) medical treatment (for herpes and other conditions) involving intravenous diluted garlic juice injections – which were self-tested. The patent includes this compelling technical drawing; the inventor is represented, graphically, as the bottommost element of the drawing:Garlic-Treatment
Please note: Improbable strongly recommends that interested parties should consult qualified medical professionals before undertaking any treatments, garlic-juice based or otherwise, for herpes, antibiotic resistant bacterial infections, cutaneous Leishmaniasis, malaria, multiple sclerosis or any other diseases or medical conditions mentioned in the patent.  

Here’s further detail from the patent:

Injection Results, First Human Trials on the Inventor

After reviewing the results from the tests on the animals, the inventor decided to try an IV injection of garlic solution on himself as an initial human trial. The first trial was performed on Mar. 29, 1996, and a syringe was filled with 25 cc of garlic solution, where the garlic solution was made from 5 cc of pure garlic juice and 20 cc of normal saline. The inventor injected 0.5 cc of the garlic solution directly into his vein and noticed a very biting and sharp pain that started at the injection point and followed the path of the vein to the inventor’s heart. The inventor waited several minutes, and then mixed the remaining 24.5 cc of garlic solution into 500 cc of normal saline, and then continued injecting the diluted garlic solution over the course of 2 hours.

The inventor monitored his vital signs during the injection of garlic solution, including his blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, and temperature. The inventor also tested his complete blood count (CBC), serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (SGOT), and serum glutamic pyruvate transaminase (SGPT) tests both before the injection, and 16 hours after the injection. The inventor noted his heart beat increased to 110 to 115 beats per minute after the initial (high concentration) injection, and this condition continued for approximately 4 hours after finishing all the injections. The inventor’s SGOT test before the injection was within the normal range of 0-37, and 16 hours after the injection the SGOT test increased to 43. The inventor’s SGPT test before the injection was within the normal range of 0-41, and 16 hours after the test the SGPT was 57. The inventor repeated these tests 3 days after the injection, and all the results were within the normal ranges and were almost the same as before the injection. The inventor’s weight was approximately 70 kilograms (kg) for the entire test period described herein.

Click to continue reading “(Self-tested!) Intravenous garlic juice herpes treatment (new patent)”