Okay, guys, listen up. This bird. This fucking bird, you guys. It is just like, unbelievable. And the worst part about it is that, like, I try to tell people about it, but I can never remember its name, and google searches for “crazy fuck-off failure birds with absolutely insane chicks” are surprisingly unhelpful. Like, no, Google, I don’t want to get sucked into a TV Tropes black hole right now. No, Google, I don’t want to read about Lars von Trier right now.
This bird is a hoatzin. H-O-A-T-Z-I-N. Aka Opisthocomus hoazin.
And you’re probably looking at it going, well, okay, sure, it looks interesting, but not that much more interesting than like a bowerbird or a bird of paradise or a parrot or something. Looks are deceiving, my friend. Looks are the least of this bird’s problems.
So, this bird. This bird is strictly herbivorous, which is not super-weird for birds, and eats a lot of leaves and very little fruit, which is super-weird for birds. As you may remember from science class, leaves are nutritionally difficult; they’re nutrient-poor and the energy they do contain is difficult to process. This is why cows have like, four stomachs whose combined volume is greater than the interior volume of the cow. (Cow stomachs: the original Tardis joke.) Most birds that don’t eat meat tend to go for higher-value forage like nuts, seeds, fruit, and roots. This bird does not.
To help it digest the leaves, the hoatzin developed a huge, two-chambered crop and an enlarged esophagus, which functions like the stomach of a ruminant or the enlarged foregut seen in many leaf-eating primates. It serves as a fermenter, using bacteria and body-heat to break down the leaves and fruit and make them more readily-accessible to its shrinky-dink stomach. It also makes the bird smell distinctly like an over-active compost pile. Also also? It’s so big that it displaces the bird’s breast muscles and part of its keel, drastically reducing its flight capacity.
Above: Look at that fucking thing. It’s enormous.
Above: The crop of a bird who can fly.
Because of the smell, humans pretty much won’t eat the hoatzin unless they’re starving, which has left it pretty well habituated to the presence of man. Between it knowing we won’t it eat, and its shitty flight record, they pretty much just move over on the branch when they see people coming. They’re like, “Yeah, I see you. No, I’m not moving. Fuck you, come back when you’ve got the balls to eat me.”
You might think that the crap flying might impair the bird’s ability to live, seeing as it is a bird, and that’s technically pretty much what they do. Well, it’s a bird who sticks to mangrove swamps and riverine forests in the Amazon, so…not so much. We’re talking pretty dense, gnarled vegetation here. Agility is more important than stamina, and if you haven’t got either, you tend to go for specialization in arboreal locomotion.
The hoatzin is awesome at arboreal locomotion. It uses its feet, wings, and a callused bump on the bottom of its honking great crop to navigate and balance on branches. But what’s really rad/horrific about this bird is how it is as a chick.
I should say something about riverine forests first, though. Pretty much anywhere you get a forest right up against a river that experiences massive annual flooding, you’ll get a specialized annual ecosystem. The trees and plants wouldn’t be there if they couldn’t survive a month or two submerged, and the animals would be literally up shit creek if they couldn’t swim. In this case, we’re talking about the Amazon. The unbelievable annual floods in the Amazon are why sloths can swim. Threatened by an arboreal predator, like a jaguar, sloths will just drop into the water and swim off into the sunset.
So will hoatzin chicks.
See, hoatzin chicks are born fairly independent. Their parents feed them, but they’re extremely mobile on their own pretty much from the get-go. They have oversized feet, strong beaks, and fucking claws on their wings.
Above: Fucking. Claws. On. Their. Wings.
Above: It’s coming for you in your dreams.
Above: Blah blah French girls, Jack.
So hoatzins build their nests over water in fairly dense undergrowth. The babies can climb out of the nest, crawl around in the trees, and, if threatened by a predator that the adults can’t successfully drive off or lure away, they can drop into the water and chill for a little while until it’s gone.
Above: A hoatzin chick who’s missing Cake Boss over this shit.
Then they swim back to the trees, climb up the undergrowth, and climb back into their nests.
You might think, like, this is actually kind of a failure of evolution, because look at these motherfucking archaeopteryx-looking bastards. They’re from the fucking stone age, right? Well, kind of but not really. There’s pressure to conserve certain useful old-school traits, like what we saw earlier in walking-stick wings. Wing-claws are one of them, in this case. So the bird has evolved, it just kept some of the old junk in the trunk because it still works for them.
The chicks lose their wing-claws when they get older, which seems like a rip-off, but I guess once they get their adult plumage in, they can make up the loss by sucking at flight instead of being great at dinosauring.
Above: Remembers when it was better at dinosauring.
So for years I’ve been bothered with the fact that I was certain German ketchup tasted differently than American ketchup. About a week ago my dad and I went to a German deli and found a bottle of ketchup called curry ketchup and it’s just like I remembered it, I’m so happy I finally have physical confirmation of this.
Some clean versions of the pages that just went up on Newsrama. Windblade #1 comes out in two days!
Swam today with Ailee still stuck in my head (which made the lengths go by faster, so that was awesome):
200 IM kick
25-75 free, ascending pyramid set
75-25 breast, descending pyramid set
I had initially wanted to do 100 for the pyramid sets but my arms were crapping out on me so.
Ugh. Over a year later and still can’t go back to one of my favorite tags because it’s still literally nothing but an overrated British actor.
Had this song in my head all morning from the moment I woke up. Not a wholly terrible way to start my day.
Dammit. Dammit. I went out today for lunch and ended up in a mall where I was surprised to see a tiny Toys R Us and guess what’s one of the first things I saw upon entering?
-alert. He’s not so much nervous or paranoid as he is basically always expecting the worst to happen. He doesn’t trust people. Even the people he does trust (other couriers) he still expects them to be untrustworthy. Everyone’s got a price, after all, and he’s not going to be caught flatfooted when their loyalty eventually gets sold. It’s not just with people that he’s expecting the worst, it’s also in situations. He’s always paying attention to his surroundings, keeping an eye out for places that people might come out of, or where they could hide, of any movement on the horizon or in the shadows. And, especially when he’s inside buildings, he’s always looking for escape routes. He’s like a stray cat, unafraid to go wherever he wants but always knows the quickest way out if he needs it.
-curious. It’s his greatest weakness outside his supreme noodliness. If it weren’t for his curiosity… well he wouldn’t be doing jack shit let’s be honest. Curiosity is his main driving force, it’s one of the only things that will override his survival instinct. When something has his curiosity, his thought process on a situation changes from ‘what is the likelihood of my dying’ to ‘is the possible result worth the possible life threatening situation’. It’s also the impetus for his meeting new people or even engaging in conversation with those he already knows. If it weren’t for curiosity, Sterling would be pretty content to not interact with people until they interact with him, but if he sees them doing or wearing something interesting, or if he’s looking for information, he’ll strike up a conversation until his curiosity is satiated.
-“friendly”. I use quotation marks because as nice as people think he is, it’s more likely than not an act. Sterling doesn’t get attached to people, he sees himself passing through any given area so he doesn’t feel the need to make a lasting connection with people. He comes off as friendly because, even if he’s just passing through, it’s better not to make enemies and people are willing to give up more crucial information to those they feel comfortable around. That’s basically the crux of any interaction he has with others: what do they have that he wants and what does he have to do to get them to give it to him. The feeling I keep in mind when I write him is sharp. People think he’s charming and kind and giving, but the truth is if they’re not careful, if they give him even a hint of a reason to do so, he will not hesitate to use every weakness he gleaned through conversation or observation to severe (metaphorical) tendons and arteries with surgical precision and bleed them dry.
I’m just going to split the difference to talk about the main points when I write Boostle:
-similarities. They’re both dorks with huge hearts, a willingness to put their lives on the line for the things that are important to them and are heroes because they deeply, truly want to help people. They’re also prone to bad judgement calls, immaturity, overcompensating to hide their respective neurosis and using humor at inappropriate times as a coping measure. Their similarities feed off each other in both positive and negative ways, it can give them strength through tough times or help them relax in slow moments. It can also cause them to cling to each other in unhealthy ways, especially when their pettiness or abandonment fears get triggered.
-differences. As similar as they are, Ted and Booster are VERY different people. Ted tends to jump into things without considering all the consequences first, generally because he overestimates his ability to handle problems that arise, more prone to petty behavior and showboating to prove himself to others. He’s the smart one, he knows it and even if he sometimes buckles under the pressure of his own genius, when he actually lets go of self-doubt and fears that self-sabotages him and focuses on his work, he can do just about anything. Booster, meanwhile, is vain, greedy, much more self-conscious, tends to follow stronger personalities (ted) and when he showboats, it’s more to make him feel better about himself. But he’s very thoughtful and maybe he initially became a hero for selfish reasons, but he is willing to help others even to a self-sacrificing level if it comes to it. His self-image issues tends to erupt in his face, but he will never stop being a hero and will never let down those he loves.
-comfort. The most important thing about the two of them is that they’re comfortable with each other in a way they aren’t with anyone else, even when they’re mad at each other. They know each other better than anyone, they’ve seen each other’s worsts multiple times, they’ve been through the highest highs and lowest lows together and there is absolutely nothing they won’t do for each other. Whether it’s as friends or lovers, they’ll always turn to each other first, before anyone else, they’ll depend on each other, trust each other, believe that they can get through anything together. Hell, often times they won’t feel they need anyone else so long as they’ve got each other’s backs.
Hahaha oh man, you’re asking me how I write Sister? Do I even write her well when I do?? Oh well, the thought process I have when I attempt her is basically:
-careless. Nott that she doesn’t care about other people- she does and she wants to be helpful if she thinks the people she’s helping are cool. It’s just that she gives exactly zero shits about what anyone thinks of her (except grif but even then for the most part she doesn’t care what he thinks). She’s more concerned with how she views herself than how other people view her and so she has no problem doing anything (or anyone) if it seems like a good idea at the time even if other people make snide remarks. If whatever she did ended up being a bad idea, she’ll admit it without shame because, hey- she made a mistake, no sense beating herself up about it. And if what she did was a good idea, then why should she care about people sneering at her when she had a damn good time?
-selfish. Not in a coveting kind of way but in a childish kind of way. Like I said before, she cares about other people and is willing to do a lot for her friends, but don’t doubt she’s easy to tempt into doing something that sounds fun instead. She’s not reliable and easily distracted by something that will give her instant gratification, but her heart’s in the right place more or less. She joined the army to find her brother because she was lonely. It’s a lot of hard work which sucks but she’s willing to do it if it means she gets to be closer to Grif than if she stayed home.
-random. Much like Caboose, Sister tends to go off on tangents and completely unrelated things because her train of thought doesn’t run on tracks. But while Caboose is random in a childlike, naive way, Sister is random in a careless, selfish way. She has no shame saying exactly what pops into her head, whether it be about sexual encounters or accusing people of being cops, she has no brain-mouth filter. Having to think about what she says before she says it takes too much time and effort and if people get uncomfortable with what she says then whatevs, dude. They’re just not cool enough to hang with her.