The biggest snail on Earth?
It’s the largest species of gastropod in American waters, anyway. Lovingly referred to as the Florida horse conch, Triplofusus giganteus is a marine mollusc, whose enormous size and orange body makes it distinguishable on the ocean floor.
This huge snail feeds primarily on other species of marine snail. Btw, the largest species of marine gastropod is the Australian False Trumpet Snail (Syrinx aruanus).
I feel like this is justification for me cannibilising short people
well then, I’m screwed.
Three skeletons at the piano by The National Archives UK on Flickr.
A Pen That 3-D Prints Bone Right Onto Patients
The device could eventually let surgeons apply stem cells more directly
WHAT THE SAM HILL
Experts Gather at Yale to Discuss Whether Animals Are People
on This past weekend, the IEET hosted the world’s first conference dedicated to the topic of nonhuman animal personhood. Energized by the NhRP’s recent initiative to have captive chimpanzees legally recognized as persons and not property, the event brought together legal experts, scientists, philosophers, and futurists from around the world. Here’s a recap.
Called Personhood Beyond the Human, the event was co-sponsored by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, the Yale Technology and Ethics Working Group, and the Yale Animal Ethics Group. The conference was held at Yale University from December 6 to 8. The Nonhuman Rights Project was an official endorser, and several of its members attended and spoke at the conference, including the group’s founder, Steven Wise.
Law Informed by Science
And indeed, the NhRP was the big hit of the conference. While the group failed in its first attempt to secure human-equivalent protections for several chimpanzees, the NhRP considers this the beginning of what will most assuredly be a long and difficult process.
During his talk at the Yale conference, Wise described how virtually all human societies have denied other-than-human animals the right to bodily liberty — a concept known as habeas corpus in legal circles. “By virtue of this,” declared Wise, “we’ve put animals into an ever-lasting jail.” His hope is for legal transubstantiation — the moving of animals from ‘thinghood’ to personhood.
Wise, when speaking to the judges last week, presented two primary legal arguments supported by common law language, namely the notion that certain animals have capacities, like autonomy, that qualify them for the right to liberty and that they should subsequently be seen as equal under the law. The NhRP is only arguing for negative rights; it’s strictly a matter of protecting these animals from undue harm while respecting their autonomy.
"I don’t agree that with rights come responsibilities," said Wise. "Animals do not have a ‘claim right’ and cannot enter into a contract." He compared their situation to those of children or the severely disabled. "Children have lots of rights," he noted, "but without the responsibilities."
Wise is pressing the case now because the science, law, and zeitgeist are finally in place to support it. Fascinatingly, while all judges dismissed the suits, one encouraged Wise to carry on with the work saying, “What a great argument. You lose!”
To support the case for animal autonomy, Wise was accompanied by his science advisor, Lori Marino. She held up a stack of papers the size of a phone book containing affidavits from numerous scientists — all used as evidence to support the claim that chimpanzees have critical capacities required for legal personhood designation, including the sense of self, awareness of others, mental time travel, and complex problem solving. Marino stressed that the NhRP isn’t biased towards chimps, it’s just that the evidence rests with the “lowest hanging fruit,” and that “we’ve got to go where the evidence is.”
Sentience and Suffering
Wesleyan University’s Lori Gruen also spoke at the conference.
"To be consistent and fair, we ought to extend our concern towards others with similar capacities," she told the Yale audience. "But there can’t be scientific proof that personhood exists in great apes, because that’s a concept that’s normative." Instead, Gruen said it’s more important they have the capacity to suffer than any other special ability or trait.
Somewhat similarly, animal rights activist Karen Davis argued that most criteria-based arguments reduce our conceptions of animals. She also complained about the tendency to compare animal capacities to children or disabled humans.
"You do not compare the incompetent capacities of one species with the competent capacities of another species," she said. "It is neither logical or just, it demeans them in many possible ways." A hen, she said, has the mind of being a competent mother. "There is absolutely no comparison to a human child."
Like Gruen, Cal State’s Robert C. Jones agreed that sentience matters — especially the capacity for pain.
Saskia Stucki, who came to Yale from the University of Basel in Switzerland, said, “Sentience is probably a good delineator of animal personhood as it implies a certain degree of vulnerability.”
I have some complicated feelings on the case to declare these four chimps as ‘legal persons’… but it’s an interesting topic and some of these things discussed at this conference are certainly worth taking note of.
It should be noted that Steve Wise, the lawyer who led this NRP case, has been bringing forth similar cases for some time now. Generally his cases would be dismissed on the grounds that Wise has no right representing / suing on behalf of animals that he and his clients did not own.
Cases like these generally aren’t meant to win. Instead they are meant to get people talking. If that was Wise’s intention, he certainly succeeded. While I may have complicated feelings on this particular case (and certain methods / philosophies of Wise personally) I am glad to see people looking at the issue of animal welfare. I only hope that the resulting conversations (from both individuals and media outlets) do so with an open mind, a critical eye, and with scientifically validated evidence.
Partial facial reconstruction, possibly Homo neanderthalensis, from the biological anthropology offices.
love how tumblr is fucking quiet about the fact we’ll most probably find out tomorrow if homosexuality is decriminalized in india or not
#do not ignore that this law was placed during british rule#that is fucking important