My friends often describe squirrels, to my great indignation, as “rats with prettier tails.” I will spare you my feelings on this—suffice it to say that, obviously, the trash-scavenging conditions of squirrels in urban areas has more to do with human encroachment on their habitat than any fault of their own (also, I really love rats)—but here in Middletown we have some squirrel variation that invites greater appreciation. Of course I’m referring here to the beautiful jet-black squirrels that frolic and scavenge about the Wesleyan campus.
If you’re hungover as hell, you may have more in common with the average fruit fly than you think. According to a recent New York Times piece, the fruit flies species Drosophila melanogaster consumes yeast-produced alcohol and, well, gets drunk as a defense against parasites. “Drosophila melanogaster thrives on rotting fruit [because] it has evolved special enzymes that quickly detoxify alcohol,” demonstrated a recent Emory University study.
What the hell does this have to do with Wes?
Err, for one thing, Emory’s esteemed 18th president, one William M. Chace (not to be confused with this epic-stached gentleman), also served as Wesleyan’s own fourteenth president, where he reduced faculty size, taught a whole lot of James Joyce, and presided over the Mummy Incident of 1990.
For another, the Times’ coverage gives quite the shout-out to Wesleyan’s own Biology department, specifically Professor Michael Singer, known for his studies on caterpillars and, less prominently, deep appreciation for soul and funk music. Apparently Emory’s study on fruit flies bears significant comparison to Wesleyan studies self-medicating wooly bear caterpillars, which make significant use of toxic plant leaves: