Isn’t it time to re­think who rules the roost?

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - PAGE TWO - John Ly­don

It is said that the monas­ter­ies of me­dieval Europe served as bea­cons of light in those Dark Ages in the West. Amid a largely il­lit­er­ate pop­u­lace, gen­er­a­tions of scribes de­voted their lives to copy­ing the works of an­cient Greek, Ro­man and Mid­dle Eastern schol­ars, car­ry­ing the torch of knowl­edge from the an­cient to the mod­ern world.

But the distinc­tion be­tween science and su­per­sti­tion was not so clearly marked back then. Among the nat­u­ral science manuscripts were bes­tiaries, com­pendi­ums of real but also imag­i­nary crea­tures, like winged li­ons. Even the en­tries on real an­i­mals would stray into the realm of fan­tasy.

This Day, That Year

Item­fromDec8,1982,in Chi­naDaily:Xi’an,one­ofthe old­estc­i­tiesinChina,is fa­mous­forit­san­cien­trelics, in­clud­ingth­eBel­lTower builtinthe14th­cen­tury.

Thetow­er­sofXi’an’s an­cientc­i­ty­walls,builtin theHong­wuReign(136898),are­un­der­re­pairand will­beopened­to­tourists dur­ingth­eSpringFes­ti­val, which­fallsin­mid-Fe­bru­ary nex­tyear,ac­cord­ing­tothe Xi’anCul­tur­alBureau....

Xi’an City Wall is among the old­est and best pre­served city for­ti­fi­ca­tions in China,

Years ago, I had a trans­lated re­pro­duc­tion of a me­dieval bes­tiary. I mar­veled at the beau­ti­ful draw­ings of an­i­mals and the strange things said in the text.

Re­cent news sto­ries got me think­ing about that bes­tiary again be­cause they chal­lenged the norms of how we think about an­i­mals and even verged on the fan­tas­ti­cal.

Gi­ant panda twin sis­ters Mei Lun and Mei Huan, who were born in a zoo in the United States, were moved at age 3 to the panda re­search base in Chengdu, Sichuan prov­ince.

A keeper there re­lated that the girls ig­nored him when he spoke in the Sichuan di­alect, but re­sponded when he switched to English. An­other keeper clar­i­fied that they don’t un­der­stand all English, just a few words.

Then came a re­port about re­search find­ings that sug­gest dogs have a sort of mem­ory — episodic mem­ory and one of the largest an­cient mil­i­tary de­fense sys­tems in the world.

Con­struc­tion on the ex­ist­ing wall started dur­ing the Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) in the 14 th cen­tury. It has since been re­built sev­eral times. A deep moat sur­rounds the 14-kilo­me­ter wall.

It has al­ways been one of the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar places for guests and vis­i­tors.

In 1998, US pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton and his wife Hil­lary Clin­ton vis­ited the wall. In 2014, an­other US first lady, Michelle Obama, toured the site with her two daugh­ters. — that is con­sid­ered typ­i­cal of hu­mans. Like us, they ex­pe­ri­ence life as a suc­ces­sion of events oc­cur­ring in a par­tic­u­lar time and place. They re­mem­ber the sig­nif­i­cant and triv­ial.

Fi­nally, news emerged of Ger­man re­search doc­u­ment­ing that a Fi­jian ant species farms a plant which in turn pro­vides them with food and shel­ter. They col­lect the seeds, plant them in an ap­pro­pri­ate en­vi­ron­ment and fer­til­ize them with their waste.

It turns out, too, that many types of ants are known to farm. As a head­line on in­quisitr.com wryly put it: “Ants were farm­ing long be­fore hu­mans in­vented agriculture”.

We tend to think that we rule the roost, that we are the su­pe­rior species and right­ful heir to all of Earth’s trea­sures be­cause our thought is vastly dif­fer­ent from and su­pe­rior to that of the crea­tures we share this

And last year, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping had din­ner with vis­it­ing In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Narenda Modi in Xi’an.

A bas­ket­ball game was held in Xi’an when NBA star Kobe Bryant vis­ited the city in the sum­mer of 2013. Bryant watched the game and gave a live com­men­tary of the game. planet with. These news sto­ries chip away at that per­cep­tion.

I won­der, what do the young pan­das at the Chengdu re­search base re­ally think when the keep­ers climb into their pens wear­ing panda cos­tumes?

Con­tact the writer at ly­don@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Last year, the city held an in­ter­na­tional marathon. With 3,200 com­peti­tors from 85 coun­tries, it also gave rise to con­cerns over the po­ten­tial dam­age to the wall.

In an­other con­tro­ver­sial case, plans to in­stall an elevator were shelved in 2014 amid a pub­lic out­cry.

WANG HAIBIN / FOR CHINA DAILY

LUO XIAOYUN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.