May 9, 2006

"This is the dark side of pandas..."

And just in time for Mother's Day. In a show of fascinating science reporting, zinger quotes, and spectacular deployment of literary devices, Natalie Angier writes in the NY Times about how mothers in the animal kingdom can turn out to be incredibly vicious and murderous towards their young. It's as if the Rev. Jesse Jackson were teaching a graduate course on evolutionary biology. Seriously, check some of this stuff out:

  • Assonance : "...pandas practice a postnatal form of family planning, giving birth to what may be thought of as an heir and a spare, and then, when the heir fares well, walking away from the spare with nary a fare-thee-well."
  • Alliteration: "In the annals of mammaldom, the maximal minimalist of a mother must surely be the rabbit."
  • Rhyme: "Tomorrow will surely be a better, wetter day. "
  • Simile: "'You can see them [i.e., nursing baby bunnies] visibly expand, like little grapes.'"
  • Human Drama: "'I figured that, if the parents were around, they'd try to block these things [i.e., baby egrets pecking their weaker siblings to death],' he said. 'I have three older brothers, and I never would have made it if my parents hadn't interceded.'"

    One Thing They Aren't: Maternal [nyt]

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