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11 January 2017 [BR for Everyone]
Slow TV "Sitting on the nest. Minute by minute" and the program of life stability

We welcome our readers on our website in the new year! Today we offer an article (so far in Russian with an English abstract) "The program of life stability" and our own version of slow television "Sitting on the nest. Minute by minute" -- a three hours' story about an oystercatcher hatching the last of her three eggs.

An oystercatcher with its young

Our article about stability of the program of life discusses the mechanisms that prevent the genetic information of life from erosion. Some of these ideas, which we are continuously thinking upon and which are to be further developed (see our "Genetics/evolution" section), were also discussed here and recently mentioned here.

We consider how the observed peculiarities of life organization can be explained if we assume that the main principle of life is to preserve its orderliness (rather than to evolve). For example, what does the division of all individuals in two distinct groups, males and females, serve for? Such a division (sexual dimorphism) opens a possibility not to eliminate organisms with partially eroded genetic program by forcing them out of habitable areas but, while preventing them from reproduction, to allow for their otherwise normal functioning within the population. Any adult organism in a sexually dimorphic polygynous population is valued. We discuss how monogamy does away with this advantage; here couples have no choice but to compete intensely for territory such that all less competitive individuals are forced away from habitable areas.

The oystercatchers tromping

Thus, to assess the status of their neighbours, oystercatchers periodically gather together for a fitness performance: they are tromping, nodding with their long red beaks and making unique sounds: loud and with a complex rhythm. Sometimes they spring at one another. Such a performance can take place both on the ground and in the air. Females, too, take part in these rituals when they are not busy sitting on the nest.

Oystercatchers flying

These oystercatchers usually lay three eggs, sometimes four. The nest is a pit in sand, or a small deepening in the rock, accurately paved with shells or pebbles. The birds occupy one and the same spot for years. If there are four eggs in the nest, most probably next year there will be four eggs again.

The oystercatchers flying

In our (amateur) video the female is sitting on her last -- third -- egg. The first two eggs hatched a few hours ago. One chick is still in the nest. Another one in the beginning of the video is hiding somewhere close. The mother, disturbed by the camera being placed at her nest, returns to the nest a few minutes after the recording begins. The older chicks keep themselves busy around their mom. The seatide is coming. At a certain moment it turns out that the third chick has been born. His mom takes the egg shell away. Then she returns and, before she leaves her nestplace until the next spring, is sitting in the nest with her youngest baby waiting it to dry up in the sun.

The family has secured itself half a beach with a rich littoral. The parents will be taking care of their young until the time comes to migrate to the south. The newly born chicks look forward to an amazing trembling universe awaiting their arrival.