We’ve Been Battling Pests for 200,000 Years

I am fascinated by all things archeological, so I was intrigued by an article in Science News entitled, “Study: Humans have been sleeping on beds for 200,000 years”.

My first thought was that this doesn’t surprise me. Primates make nests to sleep in. And who doesn’t prefer to be comfortable? I doubt that that urge is a newfound one.

But what really interested me about the article was the composition of the beds. It seems that in Border Cave, an archeological dig in South Africa, a scientific analysis was done of the bedding, and it was determined that it was made of the very grass that is growing outside of the cave to this day. Well, that’s a nifty use of the available resources, I must say.

But beneath those layers of grass, scientists discovered, always lies a layer of ash. It is believed that this ash layer warded off some bugs and dehydrated others. Or, at the very least, these people may have been burning their bedding when it became dirty and/or infested. Based on the tools scattered about, it seems they sat upon these beds to work during the day as well. And camphor was found on top of the bedding. That’s an effective insect repellent. It is easy to surmise that bugs were a nuisance back then, too.

From this one little article I learned that these early humans had a sense of organization, and knew how to take advantage of local resources.  They enjoyed comfort, and they hated lice and ticks and other creepy crawlies as much as we do.

Way to adapt, guys! And thank you for doing so. It allowed you to stick around long enough to produce descendants that eventually led to us. Well done!

Border Cave, South Africa

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Mountainous Molehills

It seems that the moment our backs are turned, our back yard becomes a beehive of activity. Especially after a heavy rain, we come outside to see molehills. A dozen or more. All over the place. I never had that problem in Florida. This is new to me.

Yes, I get it. Most people view moles as pests. They ruin the look of your pristine lawns. They cause tripping hazards. They kill plants. They can damage drainage systems. (But hey, you’ve got to admire their work ethic.)

As someone who used to own an ant farm, and begged my mother (unsuccessfully) to buy me sea monkeys, I have to admit that moles fascinate me. Did you know they have extra thumbs? How cool is that?

I’m a live and let live kind of person. I don’t see why moles have any less right to do their thing than I have to do mine. So I resist the urge to take advantage of one of the many eradication methods out there.

I like the idea that there is a whole civilization in my yard. Moles, crows, humans, bees, rabbits, beetles, dogs, stellar jays. Come join the party. The theme is diversity!

I have yet to see a molehill as it’s being made. I think it would be fascinating. And I think that moles are sort of cute in a creepy rodent way (although they’re actually not rodents. They’re insectivores.) I’ve rarely gotten glimpses of them. They keep themselves to themselves. We have that in common.

Besides, I feel sorry for them for having to share a name with an unsightly lump in one’s skin that many of us rush out to the dermatologist to have removed.

So breathe easy, little mole, as you burrow beneath my feet. I mean you no harm. In fact, I enjoy being part of the circle of life with you.


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