Thursday, 19 January 2012

The cleverness of Japanese crows

As promised… This was actually part of a BBC2 programme about amazing natural events presented by Chris Packham which I wasn’t officially watching glued as I was to the campest fitness programme ever on C4. (Fatfighters, in fact. I was quite unable to believe what I was seeing with my eyes. However I justified the horror because my brain cells were being fed amazing snippets of information from the BBC2 programme.)

Anyway, it turns out the crows in Japan were very keen on  the local crops of walnuts – I think walnuts. They don’t sound terribly Japanese – but had to figure out how to crack the shells. First they realised, being clever corvids, they could drop them from a height on to a hard surface, such as the road and that would weaken the shell. They then brilliantly progressed onto using traffic on the  roads as giant nutcrackers, timing the drops so the cars would crush the shells. However, the retrieval of the crushed nuts meant for crushed crows, and the exercise was fraught with danger. So – and this is so unfathomably amazing I cannot get over it – they learned to drop the nuts on zebra crossings (again I question whether this was actually Japan, but on we plough) and then retrieve their bounty when the lights stopped the traffic. Hoorah, I cheered.

I shall treat you with another amazing crow story. The next unexplained phenomenon was the case of the exploding toads. Now, I missed some of the finer points in this due to the sheer inanity of the rival programme, but in short: somewhere in the world there was suddenly a mass number of toad carcasses found exploded. After examination they realised each toad had the same-sized puncture mark in the same area of the skin. What could have made the hole? It was a complete mystery. Bring on the crows (you could hear them being lined up in the wings, chattering about how finally they get their moment in the sun.) Toad skin can be so poisonous as to be fatal to any hungry predator. The toads also inflate themselves to make themselves look bigger and harder to tackle when under threat, ie from a peckish crow. What they discovered was that  - and what I missed was whether this was through trial and error, because otherwise those crows should be summoned forthwith to the NHS – the crows would get the toads to inflate themselves, then, once the target area was increased and easy to get out, stab the toad with their beaks at precisely the place where the toad’s liver is located (the most nutritious part), snatch it out and cause the toad to explode. How they learnt about toads’ anatomy I simply don’t know, but there it is. Precision surgery.

I suspect next time we shall be told they have mastered light aircraft and were the first on Mars. I would not be surprised.

I haven’t written about food for a few weeks because I haven’t wanted to bore with our slight regime change. Essentially we allowed ourselves to indulge shamelessly over December and come January 2, I felt just disgusting. So we have turned to India Knight’s Idiot-Proof Diet, based really on Atkins, to get ourselves right again. I did it five years ago and it was easy and lovely and I can heartily recommend it.  The joy of it is that it works and is really not only painless but enjoyable; the sadness is that it isn’t really worth blogging about eating lots of meat, fish and green veg and not drinking for 2 weeks, so I have sought to distract you with amazing facts. Normal service will be resumed soon.


Marcheline said...

I will admit to thinking, just for a second... "They have zebras in Britain?"

Your diet sounds a bit like the Paleo way of life, which my husband and I have embarked on. We love it too! Basically meat, fresh veg, eggs. If you'd like to find some great recipes to make your stint a bit easier to do, check out Sarah Fragoso's website - it's called "Everyday Paleo". She has a recipe for pizza, using cauliflower to make the crust part, that is absolutely AMAZING.

Jo said...

Marcheline: I shall check that out soonest... Very good idea. Esp as MCD has come round to cauliflower mash,

The Heathen said...

Jo - can't seem to find a way to email you so I'm posting a comment here...

Just discovered that you've listed The Heathen as one of the blogs you follow and I wanted to thank you for that!