Friday, October 25, 2013

extinction everywhere

/ antique lithograph of australian (and new zealand!) fauna /

it seems like i have been constantly hearing about a similar strain of extinct or nearly extinct animals over the past couple months. it all started with american museum of natural history's scicafe entitled reviving the mammoth, which was quite a really fascinating lecture about many of the considerations that must be made in order to de-extinct a species. while the idea of being able to see a once extinct animal in person sounds initially appealing, i personally think time, effort, and money can be better utilised on other projects.

then there was the book carnivorous nights (which was on my reading list and just happened to be part of AD's library) is all about the extinct thylacine, or tasmanian tiger. actually, the aim of the book is to show how many people believe the tiger might still be living somewhere in remote tasmania. it also touches on research efforts at resurrecting the tiger, but much like the scicafe lecture pointed out, there is laundry list of issues that act as barriers to any success so far.

today i listened to radiolab's rebroadcast of famous tumors, whose first story is about the tasmanian devil facial tumor. it's a heartbreaking story, but the devils have a lot of conservationists on their side that are making strong efforts to slow the spread of this disease.

and now tasmanian devils are now at the san diego zoo! this is not only great for exposing the north american public to this amazing animal, but it is also important for preserving the species should the facial tumor be unstoppable in australia.

and, funnily enough, the last story in radiolab's tumor episode is all about henrietta lacks and the book written about her is next on my reading list. i might add the song of the dodo (also in the episode) onto my list as well. ok, i might as well just add the whole radiolabreads to my list...


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