By David Worboys • 07 January 2022 • 12:00
No kangaroo has ever played for Arsenal.
IN these uncertain times, you might be comforted if I remind you that the heaviest drinking professionals are surgeons, airline pilots and taxation assessors. But, as we have to wait seven years for an operation, are never likely to travel abroad again and are not currently making profits, it may not be uppermost in our thoughts. So, I began to wonder. How do oysters make love?
Well, the procedure is prosaic rather than romantic. The male (if you can differentiate), somehow shoots sperm into the sea hoping that some of it will be seized by a female’s gills and fertilised. He might be expected to feel pretty humiliated if all his output is either rejected or is grabbed by an unsuitable girl. But he won’t be bothered because he doesn’t have a brain or a central nervous system. He just has 10 neurons.
Of marginally more practical interest, the fairy-fly, although smaller than a grain of salt, has a brain containing 7,400 neuron cells. It can sense a menacing encroachment and dodge away from it, but that’s about it. The brain of an ant contains 250,000 cells. It has a sense of direction and can drag objects or other insects several times its size and weight. The ant is industrious and socially aware.
Insects can sense, see or hear, they can move and change direction and decide what and when to eat. Animals can remember friends, make and change plans and be trained to copy or perform certain activities. They can all procreate.
Most humans do have a brain, although I sometimes wonder. It contains 170 billion cells, including 85 billion neurons (nerve cells which communicate with other parts of the body). There are some 37 trillion cells in the entire human body.
Humans alone can invent things, learn languages, analyse diets, fly to Mars, build cities, serve aces, run businesses and direct movies. No other animal comes anywhere near for ability and achievement. For example, there is no record of a dolphin having invented X-ray or a pelican discovering Australia. No kangaroo has played for Arsenal and there are no Michelin-starred hyenas.
We alone have the means (and the will) to kill any species from the blue whale to the mosquito, including the giraffe, the hippopotamus and, of course, each other.
Today, there are other things to ponder, apart from Covid, climate change, Taiwan and Ukraine. For example, I learned last week that the world’s biggest cave, Hang Soon Doong in Vietnam, is nine kilometres long and 200 metres high. You need to know that to impress your neighbour.
Picasso’s full name is Pablo Diego Jose Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomucena Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruiz y Picasso (23 words). Next time you are in a ski-lift with Boris Johnson this could be a useful topic of discussion.
David Worboys’s opinions are his own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.
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Born Aylesbury, 1939. Have lived and worked in London, Zurich, Vienna and Frankfurt travelling extensively throughout Europe and then worldwide as Financial Controller. Interests include travel, music, literature, sport, photography and gastronomy. Bought property in Nerja and contributed to local magazine "Market Place". Retired 1965. Married to Margarete with three daughters.
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