How The Hen House Turns: Changing Life

By CARY NEEPER
Formerly of Los Alamos
 
Do most kids want a pet of their own? Something aside from the family cat or dog? Not something or someone who is just part of the family.
 
There’s a subtle distinction to be made here. Usually, walking or feeding the dog or cat often falls on this child or that (when Mom and Dad are too busy) “It’s not “my” dog, Mom” (unless I own it, buy it myself, choose it myself, and house it in my room).
 
I learned that lesson years ago, and I expect it still holds. Or have things changed during the last few decades? Dogs seemed to have changed. There are many more varieties of  small dogs these days. Some—like the Cuban Havanese–are wonderful personalities with enough intelligence to know when to give in. 
 
Though willful, the one I walked, SadieSue, knew when to give up and go my way. It took 40 seconds, but there was no resentment noticeable when the dog finally agreed to go my way. She was the one who saved her owner’s life by barking when her mistresses’ oxygen supply went silent one night.
 
I suspect that chickens have also changed over the years, or soon will. The urban chicken has become more and more popular, even in San Francisco. It would be fascinating to see how they adapt to city life. Will they learn to dance, as have some other domestic birds? Check out Snowball: You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNAAZ5Nt6pk.
 
The ancestors of birds were once much larger and rather ferocious, with huge teeth and tails. I guess we don’t know, yet, exactly which dinosaur survived the Yucatan asteroid strike, but it was not the big friendly plant-eaters like Seismosuarus, whose bones were found north of Albuquerque. Bone material was verified as original when studied by friends at Los Alamos.
 
The world changed a lot after that asteroid strike, but the dinosaurs’ legacy was significant. Part of the world’s “ecosystem health” was left much improved by their habit of walking 7 to 16 kilometers after “ingesting a meal and defecating.” As a result, coal samples from the Cetaceous (when they lived) were recently found to be 136% higher in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sulfur than minerals from the age before the 4-legged herbivores like Seisomosaurus. Earlier coal deposits lacked this rich fertilizer. (Earth and Space Science News, page 5. EOS.org.)
 
I wonder what we humans will leave behind that will change the Earth. I hope there will be something more useful than plastic. In any case, history indicates that living beings don’t necessarily remain exactly the same for very long.
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