A FEW WEEKS AGO WE ASKED VARIOUS BLOGGO REGULARS TO TELL US WHAT WERE THEIR TOP THREE FAVOURITE MYSTERY ANIMALS... AND WHY. AND NOW - AT LAST -IT IS MY TURN
I have enjoyed The Big Three, and in a way I am sad that it is over. In the next few days I shall start collating the information and at some point soon there will be some sort of a summary of information. But for the moment here are my three animals that (at least at the moment) intrigue me more than others...
1. The giant earwig of St. Helena
As regular bloggo readers will know I am fascinated by creepy crwalies. Indeed, it has to be said that my true loves are far less spectacular creatures than those of most people who reside at the CFZ (and I suspect than many of those who read the bloggo). However, as Maxy has written on a number of occvasions, the search for smaller creatures is just as validf cryptozoologically than the search for the more spectacular ones.
The Saint Helena earwig (Labidura herculeana) was the world's largest species of earwig reaching a massive 3.3in in length. It has not been seen in alive for many years and has popularly been supposed to have been extinct for many decades. The last living one was seen in 1967. However a 1995 expedition found dessicated fragments in an unexpected location and proved that they did not only live in gumwood forests and, before breeding seabirds were wiped out by introduced predators, they also lived in seabird colonies. So I believe that there is every hope for them having survived.
2. The British large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) was a well known British butterfly until it suddenly declined and died out in the early 1980s. But sightings of them continue to the present day, and I for one am intrigued to find out whether these butterflies are the remains of the original wild population, or whether they have been introduced by well-meaning amateurs. Intriguingly Nymphalis urticae the small tortoiseshell, which was one of Britain's cvommonest butterflies is also now in terminal decline, and the rise and fall of British buterfly populations is something which is taking up a great deal of my research time at the moment. I believe that if we could understand how these fluctuations happen, and even more importantly why, we would know a hell of a lot more about the natural world than we do at the moment.
3. The British beech marten (Martes foina). Some months ago I wrote a bloggo entry about this tantalising creature, which can be found:
The reason that this animal has always intrigued me so much is that for centuries it was always accepted that both species of marten - M. martes (the pine marten) and M. foina (the beech marten) lived together quite happily across the UK, as indeed they do across much of Europe. Then in 1879, when Edward Alston published an article entitled “On the Specific Identity of the British Marten” for the Royal Zoological Society, what had hitherto been described as two separate species, became lumped together as one.
This act of taxonomoc ethnic cleansing, on the sparsest of evidence, has always seemed so unfair and unjustified that it appealed to the most Gerrard Winstanleyesque traits in me, and fuelled me with the powers of righteous anarchism. I wanted to overturn this ridiculous ruling, and restore the poor beech marten to its rightful place in the textbooks, and nothing that has happened over the last twenty years since I first started to investigate this case has changed my mind!