This is the second addition in a series of “Weird Places my Writing Research has Taken Me on the Internet,” or “Weird Writing Research” for short.
Today’s entry is an actual research article published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, titled, “Mammary Gland Tumors in Captive African Hedgehogs.” I’m still not entirely sure why they would want to do this, but these researchers analyzed the tumors in mammary glands (nipples) of eight white-bellied African pygmy hedgehogs (Atelerix albiventris). Sadly, most of the tumors were malignant.
How does this relate to my writing? Right now, I’m trying to keep a main project (which I work on daily) and however many side-projects (which I work on whenever I feel I need to unwind). One of my biggest side-projects is called The Domesticated Universe, an alternate reality where domesticated animals go when they die–there, they have to ability to transform either into a human or their wild ancestor (ex. dogs into wolves, cows into aurochs), and they retain the social norms and level of technology that their human owners had when their species was first domesticated (ex. Cats would have technology from about 8,000 years ago, doves would have the social norms in Ancient Egypt, etc.).
But this begs the question of which animals are domesticated and which ones aren’t. There are a couple of different definitions of “domesticated,” but I’m going with the domestication syndrome definition, which focuses on friendliness toward humans and juvenile characteristics. Therefore, for each animal we keep as pets or use for work/husbandry, I need to look up if they have domestication syndrome. Unfortunately, the literature on white-bellied African pygmy hedgehogs is a bit sparse, so I’ve been scraping the bottom of the barrel and going into pretty much any article that has the word “domestic” or “pet” in it. Which brought me to the lovely nipple cancer article you see above. Unfortunately, this article did not answer my question, and my search continues.
The things I do for my stories…