Animals, the Zodiac, and Hox Genes, Oh my!

I really enjoyed this lecture and the concepts behind the Hox Zodiac exhibit/dinners, because of how they highlighted the importance of animals in human society.  I especially liked the TedTalk on Pig05049, for this reason. I personally had no idea about how many everyday products are made from some part of a pig. I knew there were quite a few, but never imagined the true scale.  So to see them all mapped out and listed was truly baffling, to say the least. Being a vegetarian, I wish it weren't true. But on the other hand, I do appreciate the fact that as much of the animal as possible is being used, rather than them being used for one part and then thrown away.  


Throughout my studies as an Applied Linguist I have come across countless studies that explore and elucidate how animals of various species can provide insight into some of the most interesting human mysteries, like language and social interaction.  One particular article that I read, that I found really interesting, centered around the unique relationship between an autistic person, Temple, and the cattle she raised (namely for food production).  I found the connection that Temple made between her (as well as others with autism) understanding of and response to the world and that of cattle very interesting.  She states that "’Cattle are disturbed by the same sorts of sounds as autistic people’” and that “’The way [she] would pull away from being touched is the way a wild cow will pull away- [thus] getting [her] used to being touched is very similar to taming a wild cow’” (Sacks, 1995, pp.265).  Further, Sacks explains “It was precisely her sense of the common ground (in terms of basic sensations and feelings) between animals and people that allowed her to show such sensitivity to animals, and to insist so forcefully on their humane management.”  I found this especially interesting because, at least to me, it proves that autistic people are capable of empathy and understanding of “theory of mind” (meaning they perceive that other beings also have a consciousness; this has been widely disputed because of their 'apparent' inability to empathize with others).  It appears that they simply have trouble relating to “normal” people because they understand and perceive the world in a different manner; a manner that many don’t take the time to try to perceive or understand.  Interestingly, I found her perspective in this sense completely relatable, and therefore understandable, as I’ve worked in wild-life rescue my entire life and have a deep understanding of animal psyche. It accordingly gave me a whole new perspective on understanding the perspectives of autistic people toward the world. I found it very interesting that it took someone who  thought in a way so divergent from the norm to realize the need to advocate for the proper, human treatment of animals being used for the meat industry.  They serve so many important functions in our society, from feeding (some of) us, to detecting cancer in us, detecting drugs and weapons, to contributing to massive medicinal breakthroughs, to being loyal companions. Many people forget that they are incredible living things, that deserve to be treated as such, with respect and dignity at the very least. 


I've always liked exploring the Zodiac out of curiosity, but have never really delved into it as much as I have in the last week while exploring the Hox site and the rest of the web.  One thing I stumbled upon was that I have two lucky flowers: the rose and the orchid.  I found this quite interesting, and rather hilarious, considering the fact that, though I have a green thumb when it comes to any other plant or flower, the orchid and the rose are the only two I've failed miserably at so far! All the other plants I've had are still alive and well, but the orchid and the rose bush met quite unhappy ends. I wonder what that could mean? I also explored a bit into personality traits, I found that I agree to an extent about what they say about Dogs, namely on the loyalty aspect. I definitely agree with what's posted on the Hox site, and find that quite interesting! It made me curious, so I decided to research other Sign personality traits and found them to be pretty accurate as well, with my friends as well as some failed friendships aligning with their compatibility with my animal as well as their personality traits. For instance, I found that my little brother's Animal, the Tiger, is Complementary to mine, which I agree with, as we get along like the best of friends. Overall I found it to be really interesting.




China Highlights. "The Year of the Dog." Web. 19 April 2016.

China Highlights. "Compatibility with the Dog." Web. 19 April 2016.

Huldi, Hans."Cow Kiss" Web. 19 April 2016.

Meindertsma, Christien. "PIG 05049."

Sacks, Oliver. (1995). An Anthropologist on Mars. In O. Sacks (Ed.), An Anthropologist on Mars (pp. 244-296). New York: Vintage Books, a division of Random House.