Pharyngula

Animeme

Chris Clarke callously infected me with a meme. I’m supposed to answer these five questions.

An interesting animal I had

An interesting animal I ate

An interesting animal in the Museum

An interesting thing I did with or to an animal

An interesting animal in its natural habitat

My first thought was, “Dude! These are awfully personal questions. Why are you asking for these intimate details of my sex life?” But then I noticed that he brought up my little friend Snowball (you may not want to read that), and all of his stories were about non-human animals. Oh. Never mind. That’s completely different.

Or maybe not so different…

They would bring them to me, one at a time, and I would hold her close. She would quiver a little, and sometimes even struggle wildly, but I would reach out my hand to her smooth, slick flank and stroke gently, then more firmly. She would be wet and slippery, and would respond to a strong grip as I held her across my knees and stroked her belly, down towards that private, secret place, and then with a tremble, she would spill, and the beautiful fluids and golden treasure would tumble into the bucket. And then there’d be another beauty, and another, and another, all giving up to me. Finally, a slender, muscular male, who’d also respond to my attentions and spurt his milky stream into the bucket…and then I’d reach in with my hand, give the lovely eggs and milt a stir, and carry them into the hatchery.

Another time, hiking in the hills, I came across a shallow, gravelly stretch of the river, and there they all were, in a frenzy of lust. They were all flushed scarlet, hook-jawed and thrashing, straining to squeeze that last drop of life out in those last few moments, and then they’d drift, gasp a few last times in the shallows, and die. Their bodies draped the rocks on the edges of the stream, some torn and partially eaten, others rotting and stinking, some few lying with jaws and gills feebly working, waiting for death. It was all worth it, I’m sure.

First, cut a deep notch in the back of the head, down to the tops of the opercula. There will be a crunch as you go through the bone. Then, insert the tip of the knife into the vent, and slit forward through the thin soft flesh of the belly, up to the ventral “V” at the throat. Grab the head firmly, snap and twist downwards, and it will pop off cleanly, bringing the whole of the guts along with it in one smooth, quick operation. And there they’d lie, pale and dark and smooth and liverish and glistening, streaked with a little blood, and from the females you’d sometimes find spectacular orange-gold plates of eggs snugged down in a thin membrane…and those you’d set aside. Good bait. A final treachery extracted from a killing, useful in catching more of her kind.

I’d hold her headless body across my knees — so much like those days in the hatchery — and with a razor-sharp filleting knife, cut deeply across each side, the trick being to slice just a hair above ribs and vertebrae to minimize wastage, and I’d free two thick slabs of rich red boneless muscle, leaving behind a cartoon skeleton of a fish. The slabs were weighty and supple, a purified extract of perfect strength and motion, and I’d slide them into tubs of ice-cold brine, the salt thicker than sea water and dark with molasses. A few days of soaking, and then the fillets would be laid out in racks in the smoke house, and the cherry wood would smolder, and the meat would cure.

Mmmmmm. Salty and sweet, dark and smoky, strong-flavored and meaty. I tasted cold dark Pacific chases, crunchy marine invertebrates broken down and distilled into firm flesh; I tasted the freedom of the sea, and the fearful flight from orca and seal; I tasted the river-borne surge, the drive up familiar home waters in the company of fellow fish. It was good.

Now that’s an animal. “Interesting” is such a pallid descriptor, we need better. Glorious. Strong. Beautiful. Fierce. Free. I like those better.

i-b40dfb5979d47b256eb48029000741b9-salmon.gif

Now by the rules I’m supposed to pluck out nine other blogs and inflict this meme on them. I have some handy tools here to use cruel randomness to pick from my blogroll, so with that I make nine casts, and dangle the hook before these few:

xml Northstate Science:

xml Opisthokont:

xml I am the Lizard Queen!:

xml QuarkScrew:

xml Meta and Meta:

xml Migrations:

xml Stranger Fruit:

xml Three-Toed Sloth:

xml The Sixth International:

Whether they choose to take the bait is their choice. I’ll wait on shore with net, gaff and club, and long thin blade. But don’t be afraid. It’s worth it, I’m sure.

Comments

  1. #1 sailor
    September 30, 2007

    In the last category I was amused to watch male giant tortoises mating, sometimes with female giant tortoises and sometimes with rocks. It seems hard to us to image an animal, even as small brained as a giant tortoise would mistake a rock for one of ones own kind. But then you notice that while the mating males are huffing, puffing, and grunting and showing considerable signs of ogiastic endevours, the females have withdrawn completely – no head no legs no nothing, quite like rocks in fact. Or maybe 30 years is too long to hold a memory…

  2. #2 David Marjanovi?
    September 30, 2007

    They would bring them to me, one at a time, and I would hold her close. She would quiver a little, and sometimes even struggle wildly, but I would reach out my hand to her smooth, slick flank and stroke gently, then more firmly. She would be wet and slippery, and would respond to a strong grip as I held her across my knees and stroked her belly, down towards that private, secret place, and then with a tremble, she would spill, and the beautiful fluids and golden treasure would tumble into the bucket. And then there’d be another beauty, and another, and another, all giving up to me. Finally, a slender, muscular male, who’d also respond to my attentions and spurt his milky stream into the bucket…and then I’d reach in with my hand, give the lovely eggs and milt a stir, and carry them into the hatchery.

    So that’s what a salmon farm looks like? They are wanked by hand?

  3. #3 David Marjanovi?
    September 30, 2007

    They would bring them to me, one at a time, and I would hold her close. She would quiver a little, and sometimes even struggle wildly, but I would reach out my hand to her smooth, slick flank and stroke gently, then more firmly. She would be wet and slippery, and would respond to a strong grip as I held her across my knees and stroked her belly, down towards that private, secret place, and then with a tremble, she would spill, and the beautiful fluids and golden treasure would tumble into the bucket. And then there’d be another beauty, and another, and another, all giving up to me. Finally, a slender, muscular male, who’d also respond to my attentions and spurt his milky stream into the bucket…and then I’d reach in with my hand, give the lovely eggs and milt a stir, and carry them into the hatchery.

    So that’s what a salmon farm looks like? They are wanked by hand?

  4. #4 David Marjanovi?
    September 30, 2007

    On another note, can someone explain to me why comment number 1 on this thread is numbered 585031 in its permalink? Does that mean the 500,000th-comment contest has long been over?

  5. #5 David Marjanovi?
    September 30, 2007

    On another note, can someone explain to me why comment number 1 on this thread is numbered 585031 in its permalink? Does that mean the 500,000th-comment contest has long been over?

  6. #6 coturnix
    September 30, 2007

    David, all the spam that was deleted over the years also had a number!

  7. #7 justawriter
    September 30, 2007

    My father loved to fish, huge northern pike from Devils Lake. We had them fried and steamed, smoked and pickled, every kind of preparation Dad could find out about in those pre-Internet days. Thanks for letting me recall those lovely days.

  8. #8 j
    September 30, 2007

    Okay, I’m freaked out now. Thanks.

  9. #9 Epistaxis
    September 30, 2007

    An interesting animal I ate

    As a vegetarian, I feel excluded.

  10. #10 Jesurgislac
    September 30, 2007

    As a vegetarian, I feel excluded.

    As a vagitarian (who’s also vegetarian) I feel strangely included…

  11. #11 Christian Burnham
    September 30, 2007

    Beautiful bit of writing.

    Shouldn’t there be a warning of bad luck if the chain is broken?

    Let me try:

    Your monitor will drop two points of brightness, your squid shall wither up and your operators will fail to commute if you do not answer this.

  12. #12 Christian Burnham
    September 30, 2007

    Beautiful bit of writing.

    Shouldn’t there be a warning of bad luck if the chain is broken?

    Let me try:

    Your monitor will drop two points of brightness, your squid shall wither up and your operators will fail to commute if you do not answer this.

  13. #13 PZ Myers
    September 30, 2007

    And you shall be forever cursed with double-posting.

    And you shall be forever cursed with double-posting.

  14. #14 Christian Burnham
    September 30, 2007

    It’s not a curse. It’s a blessing to the readers of this blog that they get to see my words twice over.

  15. #15 John Morales
    September 30, 2007

    It seems PZ, should he ever lose his day job, could make a passable living as a writer for pornographic media.

    Some might see it as a shame that such talent is wasted on mere science writing.

  16. #16 Jim Anderson, carnivore
    September 30, 2007

    Glorious. Strong. Beautiful. Fierce. Free.

    Let’s not forget “Dead” and “Tasty.”

  17. #17 Hank Fox
    September 30, 2007

    As a vegetarian, I feel excluded.

    I’ve read that we all end up swallowing a certain number of small spiders at night in our sleep. Even vegetarians are carnivores unaware.

    You could write about those.

  18. #18 Hexxenhammer
    September 30, 2007

    Justawriter, I assume you’re talking about Devils Lake, ND? That happens to be my hometown. Are you a Satan as well?

  19. #19 Christian Burnham
    September 30, 2007

    Hank: Swallowing spiders in your sleep is like Giuliani’s sanity: It’s a myth.

  20. #20 Chris Clarke
    September 30, 2007

    I’ve read that we all end up swallowing a certain number of small spiders at night in our sleep. Even vegetarians are carnivores unaware.

    If you eat a loaf of bread made from flour you did not grind yourself, you’ve almost certainly eaten an animal. Or broccoli or cauliflower. Or anything cooked in a restaurant.

  21. #21 Chris Clarke
    September 30, 2007

    Oh, and my last isn’t meant as denying vegetarianism, which I respect. Just food industry facts of life.

  22. #22 Goat-herder
    September 30, 2007

    Goat.
    Goat.
    Goat.
    Sex with a goat.
    Goat.

  23. #23 Tebo
    September 30, 2007

    Riding home, early one morning, long ago on my Suzuki 250 X-6 Hustler I opened my mouth to yawn and consumed a small dragon fly!!

  24. #24 Fernando Magyar
    September 30, 2007

    I currently have an interesting animal. A couple of months ago I was dragging a net through the Sargassum weed for small shrimp to give to my salt water fish as live food.

    With the shrimp I caught this tiny fish which at the time was about a quarter of an inch long.
    I didn’t think much of it’s chances of survival and really only thought of it as live food for my fish.

    I threw it into a tank that holds a mismatched and very aggressive, territorial pair of fish, namely a 2″ stripped tropical atlantic damsel (not sure of the exact species) and a 3 inch long Red tooth hawaian Trigger fish (Odonus niger).

    They usually make very short work of anything that is offered to them. So imagine my surprise when day after day the little fish was still swimming around.

    Well It is now a couple months later and it is almost 2″ long and has turned a beautiful mottled brown and tan and with attractive yellow markings, probably to camouflage itself in it’s natural habitat among the Sargassum weed.

    Now whenever I approach the tank it swims frantically back and forth and seems to know that I am bringing food.

    I am truly amazed at its tenacity in carving out a niche for itself and surviving in an environment that is most definitely hostile and not it’s natural habitat. There is nowhere in my tank where it can hide.

    Last night I was breaking up a clump of food with my fingers in the water and it started nipping my fingers.
    I still haven’t been able to identify what species it is but I’m starting to hope it stops growing soon before it ends up eating the damsel and the trigger:-).

    An interesting animal I ate:

    By far the most interesting animal I have eaten is the American Alligator.
    In terms of its social behavior, nesting, mating, how it cares for its young etc. There is also the it’s ancient ancestry and Fascinating physiology.

    I’m mean what is there not to like about a tender caring communicative solar powered, (and very tasty I might add) living dinosaur. Ok,Ok, forgive my literary license.

    An interesting animal in the Museum:

    Changchengornis and primitive feathered flying dinosaur/birds at the The Dinosaurs of China exhibit in Miami Florida.

    An interesting thing I did with or to an animal:

    Well it’s more what the animal did to me. I spent the night at a house that had one of those special cat entrances. The next day when I went to put on my shoe I found what at first appeared to be a tightly wadded sock inside. It turned out that a young opossum had found it’s way into the the house and had decided my shoe was the perfect sleeping place.
    The consequence was two very surprised animals. Me and the opossum.

    An interesting animal in its natural habitat:

    I have two experiences tied for first place, one, witnessing a trio of cuttlefish out on the reef in what must have been intense communication with possible sexual overtones. The dance and the range of colors was absolutely amazing! Second was snorkeling with a pod of 8 manatees off of Fort Lauderdale beach recently.

  25. #25 Ken Cope
    September 30, 2007

    Goat.
    Goat.
    Goat.
    Sex with a goat.
    Goat.

    Result:
    Bible.

  26. #26 Jonathan
    September 30, 2007

    I tasted cold dark Pacific chases, crunchy marine invertebrates broken down and distilled into firm flesh; I tasted the freedom of the sea, and the fearful flight from orca and seal; I tasted the river-borne surge, the drive up familiar home waters in the company of fellow fish.

    You tasted mercury from coal-fired power plants.

  27. #27 Patrick Quigley
    September 30, 2007

    That was a really fun read. I am impressed that you managed to answer all five questions with the same animal.

  28. #28 Anton Mates
    September 30, 2007

    So that’s what a salmon farm looks like? They are wanked by hand?

    You should see how dolphin sperm samples are collected for artificial insemination. You have to wear a mask in case you happen to get blasted in the face….

  29. #29 Ryan
    September 30, 2007

    Someone call the Humane Society!

    And tell them this is totally hot.

  30. #30 David Harmon
    September 30, 2007

    “It seems PZ, should he ever lose his day job, could make a passable living as a writer for pornographic media.”

    I remember reading a piece by the erotic writer Anais Nin, where only at the very end of the page do you discover that she’s describing… an orange.

  31. #31 DustPuppyOI
    September 30, 2007

    To the vegetarians: Didn’t you know that Carrot Juice is Murder?

  32. #32 Geoff
    October 1, 2007

    Interesting thing I did to an animal: I once stepped on a Jesus fish. Well I thought it was interesting.

  33. #33 Ron Sullivan
    October 1, 2007

    I read that lovely, mouthwatering description with great pleasure until one bit stopped me in my metaphorical tracks in horror. PZ, have you never tasted salmon roe? It’s lovely: each egg a tiny juicy firecracker of salmon flavor. Much too good to waste as bait.

  34. #34 PZ Myers
    October 1, 2007

    Oh, yes, I’ve had it now, but back when I would fish for salmon with my father, guts were guts and we wouldn’t eat ’em — they’d fertilize the rose bushes, or in the case of eggs, would be used as bait.

  35. #35 DuWayne
    October 1, 2007

    Good gods PZ, I will have to remember to take your warnings that I might not want to read something a little more seriously, at least this close to bedtime. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to have dreams about the brain stem of a cat, floating around in midair, stimulating fish, with nefarious intent.

    Goat-herder –

    Monkey see, monkey do. When I was a teen, I had a girlfriend who’s family kept two goats. One evening, when we finished having the sex, by the barn, we noticed that the goats were following our example. Being really stoned at the time, we both thought it was really cool. I’m pretty sure that’s when I gained my affinity for goats.

  36. #36 Lynn David
    October 1, 2007

    Ahh… brings back memories of Septembers in northern British Columbia and the Alaskan panhandle.

    When someone asks me why I limp on my left leg, and I say an old injury, they say, “football?” Then I have to explain about a large Coho salmon and a slick rock in the Skeena River.

  37. #37 hoary puccoon
    October 1, 2007

    Animal I ate– capabara, a gigantic, aquatic South American rodent, is simply delicious dried and salted.

  38. #38 David Marjanovi?
    October 1, 2007

    Thanks for reminding me of the spam. Sounds logical.

    I’m mean what is there not to like about a tender caring communicative solar powered, (and very tasty I might add) living dinosaur.

    ARGH! Crocodiles are not dinosaurs!!!

    Was that your literary license?

  39. #39 David Marjanovi?
    October 1, 2007

    Thanks for reminding me of the spam. Sounds logical.

    I’m mean what is there not to like about a tender caring communicative solar powered, (and very tasty I might add) living dinosaur.

    ARGH! Crocodiles are not dinosaurs!!!

    Was that your literary license?

  40. #40 MartinM
    October 1, 2007

    I’m pretty sure that’s when I gained my affinity for goats.

    I find that statement oddly ambiguous, given the context.

  41. #41 windy
    October 1, 2007

    An interesting animal in its natural habitat

    Are there animals that are totally uninteresting in their natural habitat?

  42. #42 Everybody in the World
    October 1, 2007

    I utterly disapprove.

  43. #43 Fernando Magyar
    October 1, 2007

    David, twas an “American Alligator” and yes I know that they are not dinosaurs. Crocodile probably tastes good too.

  44. #44 ctenotrish, FCD
    October 1, 2007

    Nice post! And fun meme . . . I hope the others answer as well!

  45. #45 David Marjanovi?
    October 1, 2007

    There is “crocodile” in the narrow sense (Crocodylidae), and then there’s “crocodile” in the wide sense, or rather several wide senses (Crocodylia through Crocodylomorpha). The alligators don’t belong to the former, but to the latter.

  46. #46 David Marjanovi?
    October 1, 2007

    There is “crocodile” in the narrow sense (Crocodylidae), and then there’s “crocodile” in the wide sense, or rather several wide senses (Crocodylia through Crocodylomorpha). The alligators don’t belong to the former, but to the latter.

  47. #47 Gene
    October 1, 2007

    Personally, I prefer Artic char to salmon. Fattier and sweeter meat.

  48. #48 Drake
    October 1, 2007

    Not sure how my encounters with “interesting” fauna are going to compare with those of a biologist, but, well, alright…

  49. #49 Drake
    October 1, 2007

    It’s a blessing to the readers of this blog that they get to see my words twice over.

    You can say that again.

  50. #50 Fernando Magyar
    October 1, 2007

    David, I’m guessing, Crocodylia through Crocodylomorpha, on the grill spiked with some cajun hot sauce and washed down with a couple of ice cold brewskies, would all go down my omnivorous gullet with approximately equal gusto. ;-(0)

  51. #51 Troutnut
    October 3, 2007

    Great choice of animal, PZ!

    You should put in for a job here at U of Alaska – Fairbanks. We’re doing some neat salmon research, and you don’t have to deal with that hot Minnesota weather!

  52. #52 Edgar
    October 5, 2007

    (!!!) Hot bisexual and interspecifical action? That is a fish-gasm 🙂

    here in trout-farming also is needed a “hand”, the farm conditions permit gonadal development but dont trigger the spawning behavior(oh lustful fishkeepers)
    for other side make think….all we enjoy a dish of farmed salmon and trout indeed enjoy a fruit of a (fish)masturbation………

  53. #53 sex shop
    December 22, 2007

    As a vegetarian, I feel excluded.

    As a vagitarian (who’s also vegetarian) I feel strangely included…

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.