I can’t think of a happier note for a Christmas Day post than the re-discovery of not one, but two species of animals once thought extinct.
In Australia, there’s the crest-tailed mulgara, a small carnivorous marsupial long thought extinct. It has recently been re-discovered in Sturt National Park, which is located near the center of Australia. Next year, the park had already been planning on starting to eradicate imported predators like rabbits and cats; this program now benefits from the new discovery’s extra energy jolt.
Meanwhile, almost 5,000 miles away, the Oriental blue clearwing, a blue-and-white clearwing moth that pretends to be a bee has been re-discovered in the Taman Negara National Park in Malaysia.
“You think about moths and you envision a grey, hairy insect that is attracted to light,” said Marta Skowron Volponi, a Ph.D. student at the University of Gdansk, co-founder of the ClearWing Foundation for Biodiversity and lead author of the paper. “But this species is dramatically different—it is beautiful, shiny blue in sunlight and it comes out during the day; and it is a master of disguise, mimicking bees on multiple levels and even hanging out with them.”
Among other things, these amazing re-discoveries show beyond a shadow of a doubt the importance of national parks. How many wonders might there be in these parks, hiding and waiting for the right time to emerge?
Well, this is disturbing. The Guardian reports that over the past 25 years, 75% of all flying insects in German nature reserves have disappeared. While it’s not certain if this finding holds true worldwide, it has caused a number of scientists to reflect, “you know, it’s been a long time since my windshield was covered in bug splatters.”
In fact, we may not even need this book anymore: That Gunk on Your Car: A Unique Guide to the Insects of North America. That’s a real shame, not only because it’s incredible that anyone wrote that book, but also because the entire ecosystem depends on insects for food and pollination.
For a lengthier discussion of the same German study (and, in my opinion, a better graphic on the insect population decrease), you may also be interested in this Science Magazine article. Who knew I would one day be getting all misty-eyed for bug splatter?
NYTimes reports potentially exciting news this week. Someone has made a recording of what may be a Java Tiger, long thought to be extinct, on Java island in Indonesia. (The recording could also show a Java leopard, which is very rare, but not thought to be extinct.) It’s very exiting, but also a little terrifying: even as I read the article, I felt I could hear the sharpening of poachers’ knives. I trust I’m being too grim.