If you're like me and have a soft spot for Neanderthals and their dim-lit fate, Scientific American has a nice online-article for you to read. At least I liked it, although there's always a big spoon of assumptions and fantasy-thoughts fed to you regarding what once was.
Continuing with a sort of "endangered species"-theme, I thought I'd write a few lines about a truly magnificent species that another species (*harr harr* Homo sapiens) hunted away from existing to extinction - the Giant Moa (Dinornis). I may be late but I'd never heard about it until today when I red that some researchers had managed to recover DNA from the 2500 year old feathers of this bird. They were able to connect four known Moa species to the DNA samples and thus, were able to draw some conclusions over how these four species looked like. And even better, by comparing the Moa feathers to the still-alive-and-well red crowned parakeet's feathers (but feathers of the same age as the Moa feathers) they could conclude that the colours had not faded or changed.
Reconstructed Giant Moa on some New Zeeland museum. Image taken from http://www.fotothing.com/photos/9e8/9e818de8b2c96bbd935711688b484789_31c.jpg
Anyway, I wanted to read more about the Giant Moa so with a single google step I learned that this could have been the largest bird that ever lived, reaching up to 2.5 m and weighing 230-240 kg! That's one big chicken McNugget. They seemed to live a grazing lifestyle on New Zeeland until the arrival of the Maori and later, colonists who wanted to eat it, and also due to the ever growing agricultural landscapes destroing the Moa's natural habitat. By 1500, it was gone forever. Shame on us!
Even more shame on us; here's some more long gone gigant birdies that we'll never be able to see again:
Source: Nicolas J. Rawlence, Jamie R. Wood, Kyle N. Armstrongand Alan Cooper. DNA content and distribution in ancient feathers and potential to reconstruct the plumage of extinct avian taxa. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B., June 30, 2009 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0755
It's tempting to believe that you have to be an intelligent being to have a highly sophisticated way of catching your prey. I don't much about the average IQ level in snakes but I'm pretty sure that they don't have any members in MENSA just yet. Still, this is a group of animals having exquisite methods of killing. You all know about venom and such, but have you ever heard about fooling your prey to swim into your mouth? Because that's exactly what this tentacled snake (Erpeton tentaculatum) does. When a nice little fishy passes by, E. tentaculatum positions itself in a motionless J-form behind it and sends of sound waves from the middle of its body. "Hey, what's that noise?" the fish wonders, and turns instinctively towards the other direction and suprise! There's the snakes mouth, wide open and filled with gluttonous desires strong enough to wipe out the fish from this world. Seems like a sirty trick to me, but nature shows no mercy when it comes to food.
Check out the movie found at this link for a glimpse of the snake in work.
Source:Tentacled snakes turn C-starts to their advantage and predict future prey behaviorKenneth C. CataniaPNAS published online before print June 19, 2009, doi:10.1073/pnas.0905183106
People that have more money than you'll ever had, but subconsiously wants, are often in the hotspot of being identified as greedy and/or egoistic (unless you think you have a chance for a pice of the cake...then you'll probably like him more than life itself). Take this together with that the guy is way past the vital part of his life, yet get's more young and fertile (and bleached) females than you'll ever had. Now, that's not really someone you'd think of as a nice, everyday guy whom you'd see as your equal. Rather, this guy would most likely be the target of journalists who's only goal is to sell you nonsense, and knows that subconciously you don't like people who stick up from the great grey mass, trespassing on your morals, and has things that your inner human primate desires but your enlighted soul knows is out of hand.
So if I say "Hugh Hefner", you probably have loads of negatively or patronizing thoughts in the back of your head. He's not really been associated to saving the world, or working free in soup kitchens for the homeless. Well, just like any other being, he probably has things that are good about him in a social/environmental context and things that are bad. I just read a good thing though, because he's just donated money (and given his name) to a bunny species, Sylvilagus palustris hefneri, that's on the verge of extintion.
I may be naive, but I bet that's better for our worlds flora and fauna than looking in magazines and get upset over "the rich and the famous" and get satisfied by how good moral you have compared to these characters. No species saved there! But then again, I also bet that the (in)famous house of Mr Hefner is quite an environmental fiend in terms of energy waste and such.Either way, we may be able to keep another species thanks to his donation, which is neat in many ways. Sources: http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2009/06/playboy-bunnies-bouncing-back.html http://blogs.discovery.com/news_animal/2009/06/playboy-bunnies-close-to-extinction.html