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Monday 28 September 2020

Walking with wolves

If I go back through my photographs to spring 2017, I suddenly come across a lot that look like this

© Rowena Fletcher-Wood

Or this

© Rowena Fletcher-Wood

What are those strange objects?
The answer is poo. Wolf, hedgehog, boar and deer scat… amongst others. So what was I doing photographing animal scat?
The answer is, tracking.
Believe it or not, wolf poo contains a lot of fur, so what they leave behind tends to look wiry as it decomposes, as if it were made of steel wool. Eventually, all that’s left is fluff.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Prescribed hallucinations

My doctor gave me a medicine that made me hallucinate.

“They’re antacids. They can’t do that,” they said.
via Wikipedia Commons

By this time, being gaslighted by doctors was so habitual I was numb to it.

They’d told me I had acid reflux. The endoscopy, the barium meal, and the pH test all proved that I did not have acid reflux. But apparently they’d put me on medication for it anyway – and not, until now, told me as much.

I’d taken the troublesome things four times a day every day for months, which meant rearranging my meal times and interfering with school (I was sixteen). When I finally decided they weren’t helping me with pain and stopped, for the next twenty-four hours, I saw disembodied hands.

Monday 7 September 2020

Zombies in nature

Haitian folklore tells of the zombie: a reanimated corpse. In modern day, the zombie is portrayed as parasitic, feeding on the brains of others and so infecting them
Zombie via Wikipedia Commons.
to become zombies too.

There are various parallels in nature: fungi that infect the brains of ants, the Euhaplorchis californiensis worm that infects fish, or the toxoplasma gondii parasite that infects rats (there’s more about toxoplasmosis here) – all these force their hosts to change their behaviour to help spread the fungal spores, or get themselves eaten by a bird or cat, where they can reproduce.

We don’t know how this happens, but researchers looking at some of these parasites found they excrete chemicals that alter brain chemistry. In their target host, the cocktail has a profound affect on behaviour, but doesn’t work so well in other species.