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Morning Lineup – January 16

Wednesday Morning – Hurry Up

Curious college students come up with quite a variety of ideas for research projects, especially those in the Sociology Department.  Nathan Weaver down in Clemson University isn't a sociology student, but he recently pursued a quest for a topic that has been begging for study for many decades.  Nathan is a senior in the Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences school and has been wondering why such a seemingly high percentage of auto drivers go out of their way to run over turtles in the roadway.

Weaver, 22, started out seeking ways to make it safer for turtles to get across the roads more safely because the population of the American box turtle is in a slow decline, largely due to so many ending up as roadkill while trekking across the macadam en route to that inviting pond on the other side.  In a report on Weaver's research, the Associated Press wrote in part:

Weaver set out to determine how to help turtles cross the road. He ended up getting a glimpse into the dark souls of some humans.

Weaver put a realistic rubber turtle in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus. Then he got out of the way and watched over the next hour as seven drivers swerved and deliberately ran over the animal. Several more apparently tried to hit it but missed.

Sometimes humans feel a need to prove they are the dominant species on this planet by taking a two-ton metal vehicle and squishing a defenseless creature under the tires, said Hal Herzog, a Western Carolina University psychology professor.

"They aren't thinking, really. It is not something people think about. It just seems fun at the time," Herzog said. "It is the dark side of human nature."

The first time Weaver went out to collect data on turtles, he chose a spot down the road from a big apartment complex that caters to students. He counted 267 vehicles that passed by, seven of them intentionally hitting his rubber reptile.

He went back out about a week later, choosing a road in a more residential area. He followed the same procedure, putting the fake turtle in the middle of the lane, facing the far side of the road, as if it was early in its journey across. The second of the 50 cars to pass by that day swerved over the center line, its right tires pulverizing the plastic shell.

"Wow! That didn't take long," Weaver said.

Weaver, who became interested in animals and conservation through the Boy Scouts and TV's "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, wants to figure out the best way to get turtles safely across the road and keep the population from dwindling further.

Among the possible solutions: turtle underpasses or an education campaign aimed at teenagers on why drivers shouldn't mow turtles down.

It takes a turtle seven or eight years to become mature enough to reproduce, and in that time, it might make several trips across the road to get from one pond to another, looking for food or a place to lay eggs. A female turtle that lives 50 years might lay over 100 eggs, but just two or three are likely to survive to reproduce, said Weaver's professor, Rob Baldwin.

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Today's Morning Lineup marks another milestone in our travels down the information highway (which so far has been turtle-free).  This edition is posting #14,000 into the archives of since we went online just a couple of months short of six years ago.  While I did not write all of them, I have read all of them and it has certainly piled up into a most interesting and eclectic collection of tales, tips, and a variety of information.  But I cannot yet comprehend just how many stories that is.  It's a lot, that's for sure.  Thanks for purposely placing yourselves at the receiving end of this torrent of topics that we here at Geezer Central have been sending your way.  We truly appreciated it.

Now let's get the equipment check started while I get some more coffee going.  When we meet back in the day room, I promise not to lead off with a round of 14,000 Bottles of Beer On the Wall.

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