Posted by: fireweaver | November 5, 2007

super fuzzy

the oregon primate center, like pretty much every monkey house i’ve been in, isn’t so keen on people taking pictures. so instead, i’ll have to write one for you.

turns out that way back in the 60s, there were a bunch of farmers trying to get rid of some japanese snow monkeys, said creatures essentially being vermin in their native land (macaques of various species overrunning the place and causing various health hazards and a general nuisance is a sadly common phenomenon). the primate center peeps offered asylum to these guys, and now the tale goes that every snow monkey in the US (yes, the ones at zoos, too) descended from that founder colony. that colony has been very successful in the interim 40+ years. after arriving at the place today, the very nice post-doc that’s acting as instructor/host for me while i’m here walked me on a tour of the outside housing facilities. we strolled up past some ingeniously-shaped circular corrals – imagine a cylinder cut in half horizontally in a waveform, so that there are a pair of cylinders side-by-side, each with 2 high sides and 2 low ones at the top – on our way to a big rectangular pen of corrugated metal. there was a 2-3″ gap between the cobbled concrete floor and the start of the corrugated metal, which i was assured was still effectively escape proof though you could clearly see winks of hands and feet within. we climbed up a wooden staircase to an observation platform above and lo! much cuteness was beheld. it’s a huge pen, well over an acre, filled with wooden jungle gym structures and winter-leafless trees, containing a couple hundred snow monkeys. they’re all poofier & fuzzier than your favorite childhood teddybear what with the recent overnight lows in the 30s, and with those teddy’s same adorable little bob-tails. babies ran back to foraging moms with a 4-limbed lope more reminiscent of a ungulate or even a hyena than a rhesus. fun monkey fact for my peeps likewise in the primate biz: snow monks lipsmack just like their rhesus brethren, as evidenced by the enthusiastic return of my smooch hello.

i’m out here to learn to image ovaries and determine the point in the repro cycle these ovaries are at, so the remainder of fuzzy incidences today concern the use of ultrasound probes. most ultrasound pictures look like some variation on tv tuned to a dead channel, all black & white fuzzy snow, with ghostly white lines emerging fleetingly from the static. now, when presented with a *good* us pic, i can hallucinate organs & problems with the best of ’em. but given that a)in school, you’re never able to wade through the sea of residents/interns/attending vets to actually touch an us machine and b)at JHU we had a very gifted and oddly defensive-about-her-machine us tech…well, the end result is that i’m a pretty crappy hands-on ultrasonographer. this may change someday soon, though, since i was eventually able to find uteri & both ovaries on the pair of monks i was imaging this afternoon. apparently, the use of a good, high-dollar machine has *something* to do with it, but the real assistance is with the super powerful high-dollar hi-resolution probes.  even a b-grade machine will be gloriously enhanced with one of these…like the black & white fuzzy lines suddenly became a good bit more numerous but in delicately finer detail.  first time i slid that A++ techy toy over our little rhesus friend’s belly, instantly abdominal pics became available, and *that* has never happened for me before.  hallucinating follicles? nah, not quite there yet, but i’m definitely solid in 3 more organs than i was this morning, so hey, we’re making progress.

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