Monday, June 01, 2009
Just a quick preview of the cover of the new-look Animals & Men. Starting with #46 (which will be out next weekish) the magazine will come out approximately three times a year, although the subscriptions will be for a four issue period as has been the case ever since we started.
It is perfect bound rather than stapled, and for the first time ever is not home-made. I, for one, am rather proud of it.
I am only too aware that it has been nearly a six month gap since #45. As you are aware there have been a lot of changes at the CFZ recently, with the bloggo and the financial problems with the printer company, but I hope that normal service will be resumed blah blah blah
Every so often the media will write a story about the latest efforts to clone an extinct animal. Usually this is just an excuse for the journalist to try to kid their readers and themselves that, thanks to modern technology, extinction need not mean that a species is gone forever or that their childhood fantasies of seeing dinosaurs in the flesh will soon be realised. This is sadly things are never that simple. There is the technological potential to bring back a range of recently extinct species, but there are certain problems inherent in this.
The most obvious problem concerns why a species may have become extinct in the first place. For example if habitat destruction or climate change was a major contributor to the extinction of a species are there still suitable areas where the species can be reintroduced to the wild, where it will not threaten the survival of other species?
The second problem is that of genetic diversity. In order to bring a species back from the dead in such a way that it would not simply end up as a solitary freak show style exhibit in one of the worlds less reputable zoos scientists would need a large number of DNA samples from separate, preferably unrelated individuals. If the clones all share the same genes or similar then this would give the species as a whole very little resistance to disease and an increased susceptibility to genetic disorders. When a gene-pool becomes limited in this way it is known as a genetic bottle neck and it is a contributing factor to almost all extinctions not caused by cataclysmic events. In nature this occurs when groups become fragmented and genetically isolated from one another causing inbreeding. Eventually over successive generations, genes tend to become homozygous amongst the group as a whole further reducing the gene-pool. Typically if a species were extinct, by the time efforts are made to clone them there will only be a small number of genetically viable samples and even these samples will have come from a severely reduced gene-pool.
It is the problem of genetic diversity that most effects two of the highest profile projects to resurrect extinct species; that of the thylacine and the woolly mammoth. Due to the degradation of the DNA over time in both species it is a huge challenge to even obtain one complete sample, let alone the numbers needed if one were to ever see these creatures being reintroduced into the wild.
In some cases it may indeed be possible to bring a recently extinct species back to the wild, if those two main problems can be tackled, and indeed if the vast amounts of funding that would be needed for such an endeavour could be found. However, this also presents an ethical problem too: is it better to send vast amounts of money resurrecting one species that will doubtless have to be mollycoddled to such an extent that they could only just be described as wild, or is it better to spend that money protecting hundreds of other species from extinction in the first place? Personally I’d rather have the money spent on efforts to prevent extinction, but I’m sure other people’s opinions will differ from my own.
The latest edition of a monthly webTV show from the CFZ and CFZtv, bringing you the latest cryptozoological, and monster hunting news from around the world.
This episode brings you:
Mystery ducks - the pink headed duck rediscovered?
Mystery ducks - genyornis
Mystery ducks - `Quackers` of `The Farmers Arms`
New CFZ turtle pond
Cuthbert the unknown terrapin
Breeding success - yellow bellies
Breeding success - cockroach species
"There's more to cryptozoology than monsters"
CFZ OutreachBig Cat Research: Behind the scenes of `Emily and the Big Cats`
Big Cat Research: Eyewitness interview
Big Cat Research: Mysterious footprint
Summer at the CFZ: Hedging
Stuart Rickard has died
New and Rediscovered: Agamas
New and Rediscovered: Madagascan frogs
New and Rediscovered: Northern Atlantic Right Whale
It’s the start of a new week (unless you count Sunday as the start of a new week as some do) and time for more of the latest news as featured on the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog:
Abandoned tiger cub follows in Knut's paws at Stroehen Zoo in Germany
Jaguar mums give up baby secrets
Fifty-five whales stranded on South African beach
I don’t think that the people trying to re-float them back to sea were having a ‘whale’ of a time.
Ameranthropoides loysi Montadon 1929: The History of a Primatological Fraud
Ameranthropoides loysi Montadon 1929: La historia de un fraude primatológico
by Bernardo Urbani & Ángel L. Viloria.
2008. Buenos Aires, Argentina. Editorial LibrosEnRed. 296 pages.
(US/UK-based print-on-demand book)
It has a foreword by the anthropologist Robert W. Sussman. This book is bilingual: English and Spanish.
The first five episodes of his bloggo-serial (I am not sure if I can face calling it a soap opera, although that is pretty well what it is) went much as I had imagined, although it was funnier.
However, episode six has gone off at a totally unexpected tangent: Tim seems to be writing a 21st Century analogue of one of the classic rural children's books by authors like Monica Edwards, who was responsible for several cryptooish books of her own. The Wild One (1967) features the Surrey Puma, Operation Seabird (1957) a rare vagrant seabird, Dolphin Summer (1963) a quasi-fortean interaction between a schoolgirl and a dolphin, and Fire in the Punchbowl (1965) an out of place pine marten, whilst other books in the series have vaguely fortean themes.
Her books have sadly gone out of favour in recent years which is a great shame because they are jolly good, but Tim, as well as lampooning various elements in current forteana who really do benefit from having the mickey taken out of them has managed to resurrect the genre popularised by Ms Edwards for the 21st Century. (The children's mother is somewhat of an old hippy, has a boyfriend, listens to Fairport Convention, and the kids have broadband). This is the last thing that I was expecting, but it really is a highly entertaining development to the character of a man whom I always knew was complex, but now is becoming completely bloody enigmatic.
Well done dear boy.