March 23, 2019

The Tiny Will Inherit the Earth

“As I scuba dive in Oslob Bay off Cebu Island in the Philippines, I see a tiny shadow dart over the surface of the spherical coral block – a minute fish, a goby of the genus Eviota, among the smallest vertebrates in existence, only about a centimetre long and less than 1/10th of a gramme light. It’s about a million times smaller than myself, with the same basic vertebrate body: a spinal cord, a bony skull, a brain, kidneys and a liver. With the exception of gills and lungs, the tiny fish and I share similar sets of organs, just at a very dissimilar size.

But looking at gobies is not why I came to Oslob. I leave the coral block, and swim towards the shore as the Sun darkens – not because of clouds but, rather, a truly gigantic fish swimming directly above me. It’s what I had hoped to see: a whale shark, Rhincodon typus, the largest living fish. Large adults weigh up to 34 tonnes, more than 300 times my own weight. The difference in weight between the tiny goby and the whale shark is a startling eight orders of magnitude. Some truly gigantic animals populate the Earth.

These massive disparities in animal sizes have fascinated biologists for more than a century. And there are enormous advantages that come with being large. Big animals have an easier time avoiding predators: some of the tiny gobies have an attrition rate to predation of more than 6 per cent per day (!), while whale sharks live for decades, and are known to have survived tiger shark attacks. Bigger animals can also invest more in reproduction: while a female goby’s body produces only about 250 tiny eggs per lifetime to hatch into larvae, a female whale shark can give birth to a few hundred fully developed shark pups in a lifetime, each more than half a metre in length.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"Historic buildings and structures dating from the Byzantine era to the 20th century have been subjected to disastrous restorations in recent years here, prompting public outcry and fostering a cynical attitude toward planned projects."

"Fox News, normally the object of presidential praise on Twitter, was subjected to an unusual tweet-lashing over the weekend when the president went after three of its anchors."

"Opinion: I am not willing to cast a ballot for this current crop of scandal-mongers, gossips and PR-obsessed dilettantes who are tearing the country apart - don't we deserve better?"

"Listening to The Joe Rogan Experience is sort of like crashing an intense, intimate dinner party in which the only courses are whiskey and weed."

"At the Jewish Museum in London called “Jews, Money, Myth.” The show explores the ways in which Jews have been associated with money over the past 2,000 years."

"Footage of last week’s massacre in New Zealand, which the shooter streamed in real time via Facebook Live, quickly proliferated. The original 17-minute webcast was viewed fewer than 200 times and wasn’t immediately reported, Facebook says."

"When I hear that Jews are too powerful, my response is, we are not powerful enough. When I hear that AIPAC is too influential a lobby, I say it must become even more influential."

"Lost in migration: When Walter Benjamin fled France in 1940, he took a heavy black suitcase. Did it contain a typescript? Where is it now?"

"Someday my daughter will be asked if she wants to have a bat mitzvah. I’m inclined to let her make up her own mind... It's a lot of work to learn Hebrew, memorize parts of the Torah and prepare for a pressure-packed performance at such a young age."

"Tablet's Unorthodox Podcast: Gail Simmons, Shalom Auslander, Jill Kargman, Gil Hovav, and more on the Jewish foods that mean the most to them."

""Hitting someone is a foundational moral violation," Yale University Psychologist Paul Bloom wrote in a comment to the paper. "Indeed, these sorts of physical infractions are found to be morally wrong by the youngest babies we can test."

" Ilhan Omar in particular has garnered attention for tweets widely viewed by the Jewish community as trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. The result has been the most media coverage of anti-Semitism in a decade..."