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Wisdom (albatross) (wikipedia.org)
147 points by brudgers on Dec 29, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 19 comments

Crazy. Do birds suffer "old age" or do they just die?

Related: do birds not suffer from "menopause"?

I'm fairly certain only humans and a handful of whale species suffer from menopause or something like it. All other female animals are able to reproduce even into old age.

Do species in which females do not suffer from menopause have shorter average lifespans?

(Mostly in agreement with stevenjohns.) Menopause seems to be mostly restricted to some primates and whales:

> Menopause has been observed in several species of nonhuman primates,[108] including rhesus monkeys[146] and chimpanzees.[147] Menopause also has been reported in a variety of other vertebrate species including elephants,[148] short-finned pilot whales,[149] killer whales,[150] narwhals,[151] beluga whales,[151] the guppy,[152] the platyfish,[citation needed] the budgerigar,[citation needed] the laboratory rat and mouse,[citation needed] and the opossum.[citation needed] However, with the exception of the short-finned pilot whale, killer whale, narwhals, and beluga whales,[151] such examples tend to be from captive individuals, and thus they are not necessarily representative of what happens in natural populations in the wild.

> Dogs do not experience menopause; the canine estrus cycle simply becomes irregular and infrequent. Although older female dogs are not considered good candidates for breeding, offspring have been produced by older animals.[153] Similar observations have been made in cats.


And is "suffer" the right word?

My understanding is that it is like many "bad" bodily functions and covers a spectrum, for some it's awful, for some a relief. No idea what the distribution is, though.

Tangential: where are all the dead animals?

There are plenty of animals around, even in an urban area, such as birds. But, I never recall running across dead animals, except road kill, or the dead mice and birds our cat would bring us. Is there an animal cemetery somewhere they go to bury themselves?

I'd be interested in how many direct offspring she likely has

> I'd be interested in how many direct offspring she likely has

According to the article, she laid her 36th egg in 2014, after 53 years; so (probably meaninglessly naïve) linear extrapolation gives around 40 total after another 5 years, which agrees reasonably well with the article's mention that albatrosses (usually?) lay one egg per year.

“Albatrosses lay one egg per year and have monogamous mates for life.”

“Most albatrosses lay every other year, but Wisdom has successfully hatched a chick every year since 2006.”

Both are direct quotes from the article. Ah, Wikipedia. Gotta love it.

Edit. One of the articles cited is from this year, and says:

“Wisdom is at least 68 years old and has raised at least 31 chicks, and perhaps as many as 36, US Fish and Wildlife Service officials said.”

But on the other hand Wikipedia says her 2014 egg was #36. If we assume albatrosses never, ever, ever lay more than one egg a year, she’ll be laying #42 in 2020 at maximum. Possibly less if she’s had an off year or two in that span.

> Both are direct quotes from the article. Ah, Wikipedia. Gotta love it.

What do you mean?

I think egypturnash is referring to the seemingly contradictory information:

>Albatrosses lay one egg per year

>Most albatrosses lay every other year

Exactly :)

Not seemingly contradictory, I'm surprised how well written it is. If it only said Wisdowm laid one egg/year I wouldn't know if it was above or below average. Both informations are available right away, good article.


This is one of the reason why the exact location of the world's oldest individual tree, Methuselah, is not publicly disclosed.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methuselah_(tree)

It's pretty obvious when you hike the Methuselah trail [1]. It's not an imposing tree but it stands out once you know what you're looking for so it's not a very well kept secret.

[1] https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/inyo/recarea/?recid=21134

Mostly, the efforts are toward managed access rather than secrecy. Getting to the tree requires significant intent and commitment. And while it's awesome, the tree is somewhat unspectacular relative to nearby [1] alternatives with better access: Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Death Valley National Parks. Getting there even requires a detour from US395 and US395 is not a high travel highway...nothing of note to the east and the Sierra Nevada to the west. It's about 250 miles of second class roads from Los Angeles, Reno, and Los Vegas.

Currently, the road to the grove is closed for the season. Weather also keeps people away.

[1]: at the scale of the western US.

That's just what the G-man wants you to think. They planted a series of decoys in plausible locations. /s

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