A brief thought for the day. How does it make you feel, knowing that the image above represents fully seven percent of the world’s population of Devil’s Hole pupfish?
Interesting how knowledge changes context. A San Francisco Chronicle article from today discusses the fate of the pupfish, and it’s not exactly rosy. Forty-two of the fish remain, and the population doesn’t appear to be on the rise. But above, you see a picture of a few—a few members of a species about to disappear forever. How does knowing that change the image?
More critters today, albeit slightly larger than yesterday…
A Reuters story today tells the story of the Yariguies Brush-Finch, newly determined to be a new species residing “ in a Colombian cloud forest accessible only by helicopter.” The results were reported in the Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club.
Interestingly, the above photo seems to be the only one readily available, courtesy of The National Ledger. In the Yahoo version of this story, the same image appears, albeit blown up and blobby. It’s the only image that crops up when one googles “Yariguies Brush-Finch” at the moment.
Now, this is all well and good, but for context, allow me to present the (complete) table of contents from the latest Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club:
“Recent Avian Extinctions”
“New Zealand’s extinct giant eagle”
“Going or gone: defining ‘Possibly Extinct’ species to give a truer picture of recent extinctions”
“The rise and fall of wildfowl of the western Indian Ocean and Australasia”
“Recent avian extinctions on Réunion (Mascarene Islands) from paleontological and historical sources”
“Unpublished drawings of the Dodo Raphus cucullatus and notes on Dodo skin relics”
“How confident are we that a species is extinct? Quantitative inference of extinction from biological records”
Seems like we’re missing part of the story here—i.e., discovering a new species bucks a bit of a trend in the biz. Didn’t this merit a line in the story? I can imagine one of the scientists saying, “In an era when we mostly report on the extinction of species, it gladdens one’s heart to discover a hitherto unknown species before it, too, goes the way of the dodo.” Soon photos (perhaps only low-quality versions from the web) are all we have left of such creatures.
Hmmm. I think my inner eco-freak is showing.