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Random Bits of Trivia

This section assumes you have already read 'Life: The Sequel' as this section contains spoilers. If you have not read the book, and do not want it spoiled, then click here to return to the main page.

Ancient Virus
The probability of an ancient virus being released and infecting the population, while low, is not out of the realm of possibilities. Scientists are finding ancient viruses and ancient contaminants today that could spread to modern man or modern fauna, with devastating results.

On the flip side of this, ancient viruses infected ancient man, embedding itself into our DNA; making up around 8% of the human genome. The remnants of these genes, or 'viral fossils' can support the host's (humans) immunity against modern-day viruses by blocking them from entering the host's cells. Because the genes are part of our DNA makeup, this could give a small percentage of the population immunity against the ancient viruses.

This book deals with the possibility of an ancient virus, not only being released into the population, but having the capability of resulting in catastrophic consequences. After Life: The Sequel was written, an article in the Smithsonian came out with just this scenario in their supposition. Scientists have found 15,000 years old ancient viruses in a Tibetan glacier that could, under the right circumstances, result in human infection. Scientists also found moss that 'came alive' and 42,000 year old roundworms that reanimated.

More worringly, Jean-Michel Claverie, an Emeritus professor of medicine and genomics at the Aix-Marseille University School of Medicine in Marseille, France has successively revived several 'zombie' over 48,500 years old! So far, he has only targeted viruses that infect single cell amoebas, for safety sake. But, that amoeba-infecting viruses are still infectious after so long is indicative of a potentially bigger problem, Claverie said. He fears people regard his research as a scientific curiosity and don’t perceive the prospect of ancient viruses coming back to life as a serious public health threat. Traces of viruses and bacteria that can infect humans have been found preserved in permafrost. “Methuselah microorganisms” (named after the Biblical figure with the longest life span) is very worrying to scientists. These are organisms that could bring the dynamics of ancient and extinct ecosystems into the present-day Arctic, with unknown consequences. This CNN article delves deeper into the subject.

The 'What If' is incredibly fascinating and terrifying.

Pajama Scene
The pajama scene did, in fact, happen. Not quite as in the book, but a six year old did have a tantrum about not being able to wear pajamas (to school) while her sister did wear her pajamas to school. (Which was, in fact, a reward to the class for a project well done. They also got pizza and a movie.)

Grandpa was babysitting the two granddaughters - alone - for two weeks while Mom and Dad were on a well deserved vacation. Getting them to and from school, supper, baths, and bedtime. Grandma would come for the weekends and give Grandpa a break.

The oldest girl's class finished a group assignment and got to have a pizza party, movie and wear their pajamas to school.

The youngest girl - just six - had a tantrum. "I wanna wear my pajamas to school! It's not fair!" and so on.

Poor Grandpa ended up having to walk the six-year-old to class to make sure she got there on time...with her sobbing dramatically the whole way and telling every adult they came in contact with the unfairness of not being able to wear her pajamas to school.

The ANFO scenes was fun to write. But, no, the ANFO would not have blown up if Harry or Lily had stepped on the detonation cord. It is a common misconception, and being teenagers, they would not have known better.

Though the research needed to write this correctly was nerve-wracking! Googling how to make a large bomb from fertilizer and fuel, which fuel works better, what else is needed, how big would the explosion be, etc. I kept expecting the ATF to show up at my door. :-)

American Black Bear
Generally speaking, American Black Bears are not aggressive towards humans, they are generally shy and will avoid human contact. However, if you accidentally sneak up on a bear, startle it, especially while its cubs are close, the bear will react.

The American Black Bear is found over most of North America. American Black Bears can be found in 42 states. They are mostly forest dwellers in temperate climates ranging from Alaska to Florida. There are about 1,500 bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The population density is about two per square mile. They inhabit all elevations in the park.

Males weigh 250 on average, 125-600 (range) 880 (heaviest). Male bears are 33% larger than female bears.

  • Cub: young bear (born weighing 13 oz. average, 8 inches long, blind, naked, and unable to hear, smell, really only able to find sow's nipple, born during hibernation in January or early February weaned from mother after 16-18 months)
  • Boar, He-Bear: adult male bear
  • Sow, She-Bear: adult female bear Sows reach sexual maturity between 3-5 years, gestation period being 235 days, averaging 2 cubs per litter, with most cubs being born in January or February
They may be active at any time of the day or night, although they mainly forage by night. American black bears tend to be territorial and non-gregarious in nature.

Bears communicate with various vocal and non-vocal sounds. Tongue-clicking and grunting are the most common sounds and are made in cordial situations to conspecifics, offspring and occasionally humans. When at ease, they produce a loud rumbling hum. During times of fear or nervousness, bears may moan, huff, or blow air.

Warning sounds include jaw-clicking and lip-popping. In aggressive interactions, black bears produce guttural pulsing calls that may sound like growling. Cubs squeal, bawl or scream when anxious and make a motor-like humming sound when comfortable or nursing.

American black bears rarely attack when confronted by humans and usually only make mock charges, emit blowing noises and swat the ground with their forepaws.

So, generally speaking, Ellie was in just a small amount of danger in her encounter with the bear. The Wild Hogs on the other hand...

Wild Hogs
Wild hogs can reach weights of more than 150 pounds and measure 5 to 6 feet long ... but can grow to be over 600 pounds, under the right circumstances. A desolate world sans humans would be ideal for the hogs.

Wild hogs occur in all 67 counties of Florida. They usually travel in small family groups or alone. A study by the Missouri Department of Conservation showed that wild pig populations can double in as little as four months. When you take the breeding capabilities of wild pigs and factor in the plentiful supply of food, water and shelter, their ability to thrive in the area makes perfect sense. Litter sizes vary. Some literature states the average litter size is four to six piglets and 55% reach sexual maturity. Feral hogs become reproductively active at 20 to 51 weeks of age and can produce up to two litters per year. Gestation period is around 116 days. This helps Ellie and her group to have large amounts of fresh meat easily.

Wild boars are highly intelligent, they have razor sharp tusks. As with any kind of powerful wildlife, they may decide to charge if they feel it is necessary to defend themselves or their young. Some hunters will tell you that hunting wild boar is more dangerous than hunting bears.

Wild boars can run more than 30 miles per hour. For comparison, at full speed:
  • humans average 6-8 mph
  • non-racing/thoroughbred horses average 30-40 mpg
  • rottweilers average 20-25 mph
The two most common causes of aggression are when humans are agitating hogs by hunting or harassing them and when humans mistakenly get between a sow and her young. Feral pigs can be extremely dangerous to people, particularly when the pigs travel in herds with their young and should be avoided when possible. Feral pigs living in the United States have been known to attack without provocation and fatally injure human beings.

Frank and the Kitten
We had a German Shorthair that would catch wild baby bunnies, trap them between his paws and then lick the poor things until they were soaked in dog-spit. He never hurt them, just licked them. There was one bunny that had a black patch on top of his head, so we knew it was the same bunny. The dog loved that particular bunny the most! We cleaned off that bunny multiple times. I swear, after a while the bunny would just give up and let the dog lick him.

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