Six ways tropical biologists can selectively remove themselves from the gene pool. No. 4 will haunt you forever.


# 1

You fall asleep in the field– in the cozy, sunny afternoon light, right after eating your last (ever) peanut butter sandwich. Before, you had invested a significant part of your scholarship into camouflage clothing, in order to completely blend in with the forest. Unfortunately, you managed to fool even the leaf-cutter ants, leaving you entirely naked. Too ashamed too hike back to the field station along the trails, you decide too take a shortcut and swim along the shore. You reach the station at sunset and use a nearby rock to lift yourself out of the water. A warm rock. With scales. As you turn around, your last thought admires the swiftness with which crocodiles are able to swing their tails.

# 2

You don’t bring your GPS because only in the field station did you discover this little sticker on the back of the device saying “General purpose. Not for forest”. You trust your instincts and make your way through the forest applying your superior machete skills acquired under endless effort. Marginally denying that you are completely lost, you decide to head to the nearest clearing too gather your thoughts. The moment you arrive, you spot a person right on the other side of the clearing and immediately start waving your hands, still holding the machete. Breathing in, and taking a closer look at the vegetation of the clearing, you suddenly realize that the astonishing number of Marijuana seedlings at the site has not arrived via natural dispersal. The owner of the plantation decides to play it safe and dissolve you in a barrel filled with fluoric acid.

# 3

After years of training you laugh at the poorly disguised mimicry that the coral snake in front you practices – a provocation the snake is not willing to let pass unanswered. A few minutes after being bitten, your breathing starts to require an enormous effort. Realizing your mistake and accepting your fate, you decide to become one with nature at least for the last hours of your life. You undress, climb a tree and scream on the top of your lungs, as long as they are still functional. A nearby course of undergrad students hears strange noises, finds you in a delirious state and after each has taken a selfie with you, they call in a helicopter. You wake up in a hospital, surrounded by your your loved ones. Your little cousin pulls out his smartphone and, under genuine amusement of your family and friends, asserts you that you have gone viral. Out of shame, you decide to die on the spot.

# 4

The field station runs out of coffee. Everyone dies.

# 5

For the last weeks you have secretly been working on your howler monkey impersonation. Now, the day has come to make appropriate use of your newly acquired skill and fool the mammologists. At nightfall, you decide to climb a kapok tree. Resting patiently against a bromelia situated on a large branch, you hear the scientists approaching. You let go an ear-shattering salvo of howls. The mammologists are impressed and lose no time to dart you. Surprised by your success, you lose your footing and plunge into a soil pit that has long been forgotten. The mammologsts try their best to locate their sample but finally give up as tormentous rain sets in. Coming to your senses you realize that you are unable to move your limbs. You gather all your reserves to summon one final howl – attracting nearby howlers who are seriously worried about a threatened conspecific. Once they realize they have been betrayed, their concern transforms into an urge to cover you in feces. Before you are entirely buried, the monkeys flee at the sight of a jaguar. Waving his tail, it appears thoroughly disgusted and settles for a different meal. The rain slowly fills the pit.

# 6

You’re back home from your field work right in time to make it to the thanksgiving dinner. Still exhausted, you narrate tales of your hard life in the field, tell them how little sleep you’ve gotten and finally complain that you’re going to lose your tan because you will have to spend countless hours behind a computer screen to analyze your data. At the same time, you show them pictures of sunny, deserted beaches and steaming tropical forests. As you then go on complaining about the danger of your funding being cut, your slightly drunken uncle replies with ‘Thanks Obama’. This causes a whiskey-fuelled, spiralling argument that eventually reaches climate change territory. Turns out, your uncle’s 30-30 calibre rifle is always right.


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