Be a Biological Detective (L140)

Suppose you found the bones of an unidentified animal. How could you learn about what the animal ate? What specific structures would give you clues about the creature’s diet?

There are multiple ways to identify the diet of an animal after death. One way to find key identifying clues would be to study the animals dentition; this is the development and arrangement of teeth. There are two types of animals (as far as teeth categorization goes); homodonts and heterodonts. In the mouth of a homodont, all the teeth are the same shape and makeup (with the exception of fangs in some reptiles). In the mouth of a heterodont however, one will find many different types of teeth; like in humans. The shape and makeup of each tooth can then be used to narrow down and determine its specific function, and the animal to which it belongs. Sharp long teeth are used for tearing, shredding and getting a good grip on flesh; whereas flat, blocky teeth are used to grind and mash plant matter. It take more effort to break down the cell wall in plants, so smashing up the food allows for the most surface area to be exposed at a time.

Extra: If one had found a carcass with fresh-ish remainders still inside, (obviously unlikely, but…) they would be able to come to the conclusion about the animals diet based upon the length of the intestines as well. Herbivores have a longer small intestine than carnivores; this is because they are maximizing the amount of surface area being exposed and processed at once. Plant matter is more difficult to digest than animal flesh.
Humans have intestines (for the most part) that are, lenghtwise, in-between that of carnivores and herbivores; surprisingly, length can vary by as much as five feet between two people, but nonetheless, humans have the build of an omnivore. 

(Miscellaneous) 18th Century Writing Assignment (L55)

1.) What does Adam Smith mean by the “invisible hand”?

When Adam Smith spoke of the “invisible hand” he was referring to two questions; the moral acceptability of self interest, and the possibility of society without self interest. Smith said that when one acts in their own self interest, that they are led by an invisible hand to help others in the process as well. Making decisions in a self interest mentality goes hand in hand with the greater good, because in the process of helping ones self, they’re most likely helping someone else. For example, if one were to go to the store for a new computer, they’re benefiting everybody who works for or runs the company as well, making them money and keeping them in business.

2.) Explain the views of the French materialists.

French materialists firmly believed that life has no spiritual dimensions, and that the human body is simply a well functioning machine. People like La Mettrie believed more specifically that, to be scientific, the human organism must only be viewed as a machine, held under no moral accountability for their actions because a machine acts as it does, not as it wills. Baron d’Holbach branched off into more depth, stating that, lacking free will, humans are only capable of making decisions based off of chemical reactions, environmental reactions, and basic instinct.

3.) Discuss the causes and consequences of the War of the Austrian Succession.

The main cause of the War of Austrian Succession was the invasion of Austria in 1740, by Frederick William I to begin the process gaining Silesia. The consequences of this war were the Diplomatic Revolution, and ultimately, the Seven Years’ War.