Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Orangutans as Engineers

Photo by Adam van Casteren

A study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), argues that Orangutans practice technical engineering that is quite complex when building their canopy nests for sleeping. Adam van Casteren and a group of seven other scientists looked at "the architecture of the nests to determine the degree of technical sophistication used in it's construction."

Orangutans build their nests some 60 feet above ground, constructing it very quickly and efficiently, often within ten minutes. The structures are not only sound and safe, but comfortable as well, with a mattress-like lining of live branches atop the thicker structural weave for the main structure. Not only are these nests comfortable, apparently, these great apes are fans of keeping things green, since they often only fracture the branches they use without breaking them. The nests remain green and alive in the trees, and can be used again later. Though, often the orangs only use a nest for one night and move on, it's nice to know they don't go around destroying the trees they build in.

If you don't already have your own subscription to PNAS, which is pricey, you can read a little bit more about this study for free over at The Huffington Post.  

On the entertainment front, don't forget to stop by The Ravens Crossing this week for some fantastic science fiction, fantasy adventuring. My Morgan & Holly story was published today as part of the website's Earth Day, Week 10 celebration. All of the stories by all of the authors this week are at least double the usual 1000 word flash fiction length. There are some big reveals, some new characters, and lots of cameo appearances by all the favorite characters from the entire series. I highly recommend you give all six stories a read this week! One will post each day through Saturday, as always. The site is absolutely free and appropriate for all ages. You might even consider building your very own coach nest and settling in to read the whole series. We've gotten lots of compliments from people of all ages, and in just ten short weeks, we've gathered quite a following of regular readers to whom we are very grateful. Don't miss out on the fun, and happy nest building!

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