“There is a famous image of me standing on a ledge around 1700 feet up on the Northwest Face of Half Dome,” explained Alex seen here reenacting that photograph. “My back is to the cliff wall and below is a sheer drop. It is part of the route to the top and has to be traversed by all climbers of Half Dome, with or without rope. Some climbers wade down and edge themselves across with their arms along the ledge. Some climbers sit on their backsides and edge themselves across that way. I felt though, that walking across it was cooler. It is around a foot wide at the start, but narrows to six inches by the end. By the end, the cliff wall bows out and pushes your back forwards so that you are literally peering over the sheer drop”. Credit: BARCROFT MEDIA/Jimmy Chin. (via Telegraph)
My favorite example of animal parasitism
I’ve already written about two amazing parasite stories today, but I’ve saved the best for last. Toxoplasmosis gondii is a parasitic protozoan that can live inside any warm-blooded animal. However, in order to reproduce, they need to be digested by cats. They can then be passed onto other mammalian hosts, including humans, through cat feces.
What, you might ask, happens to a protzoan that finds itself in a non-feline host - say, inside of a rat? This is the amazing part. The parasite secretes the neurotransmitter dopamine inside of the rat, causing it to lose its fear of cats. Not only that, the infected rats become sexually attracted to cats. As you might expect, this is a particularly effective strategy for parasites that want to find their way back to cats.
I’m done editorializing. Mind blown.