Tag Archives | Species

Are Humans Meant to Be Monogamous?

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Is monogamy best for our survival as a species? Is it a social engineering practice to keep us in tow? Should we all join a sex cult and do whatever/whomever we please?

via Live Science

News of politicians’ extramarital affairs seems to be in no short supply lately, but if humans were cut from exactly the same cloth as other mammals, a faithful spouse would be an unusual phenomenon.

Only 3 percent to 5 percent of the roughly 5,000 species of mammals (including humans) are known to form lifelong, monogamous bonds , with the loyal superstars including beavers, wolves and some bats.

Social monogamy is a term referring to creatures that pair up to mate and raise offspring, but still have flings. Sexually monogamous pairs mate only with one partner. So a cheating husband who detours for a romantic romp yet returns home in time to tuck in the kids at night would be considered socially monogamous.

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The Nazi Plan To Breed Lost Animal Species

Jurassic Park fifty years prior? Cabinet Magazine on a strange form of zoology in Nazi Germany, centered around the cordoning off of untainted forests for the re-creation of pure, ancient breeds of ponies, boars, and a mystical striped oxen called the auroch:

In 1920, the brothers Lutz and Heinz Heck, directors of the Berlin and Munich zoos, respectively, began a two-decade breeding experiment. Working with domestic cattle sought out for their “primitive” characteristics, they attempted to recreate “in appearance and behavior” the living likeness of the animals’ extinct wild ancestor: the aurochs.

This conflation of biological and aesthetic destiny coincided with a strain of Nazi thought that sought to apply pseudo-Darwinian theories in support of a racialized conception of the state. In this mode, the zoologist Konrad Lorenz identified parallels between the changes he observed in animals as the result of their domestication and what he saw as the deleterious genetic effects of civilization.

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New Shark Species Found In Food Market

Photo: Laurent Bugnion (CC)

Photo: Laurent Bugnion (CC)

Biologists are finding new species constantly, but it took a hungry market and working fishermen to find this new shark species. The National Geographic reports:

It’s unlikely anyone’s ever complained, “Waiter, there’s a new species in my soup.” But the situation isn’t as rare as you might think.

A monkey, a lizard, and an “extinct” bird have all been discovered en route to the dinner plate, and now a new shark species joins their ranks, scientists report.

Fish taxonomists found the previously unknown shark at a market in Taiwan—no big surprise, according to study co-author William White.

“Most fish markets in the region will regularly contain sharks,” White, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Hobart, Australia, said via email.

[Continues at National Geographic]

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Number Of Species On Earth Estimated At 8.7 Million

SpeciesEver wonder how many species are sharing this Earth? Apparently it’s 8.7 million, give or take a few. This takes into account the few thousand plant or marine species we haven’t discovered yet or documented. Via Physorg:

That is a new, estimated total number of species on Earth — the most precise calculation ever offered — with 6.5 million species found on land and 2.2 million (about 25 percent of the total) dwelling in the ocean depths.

Announced today by Census of Marine Life scientists, the figure is based on an innovative, validated analytical technique that dramatically narrows the range of previous estimates. Until now, the number of species on Earth was said to fall somewhere between 3 million and 100 million.

Furthermore, the study, published today by PLoS Biology, says a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

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Is Earth Due For Its Sixth Mass Extinction?

FishShould we all be on the endangered species list? Science Daily reports:

With the steep decline in populations of many animal species, from frogs and fish to tigers, some scientists have warned that Earth is on the brink of a mass extinction like those that occurred only five times before during the past 540 million years.

Each of these ‘Big Five’ saw three-quarters or more of all animal species go extinct.

In a study to be published in the March 3 issue of the journal Nature, University of California, Berkeley, paleobiologists assess where mammals and other species stand today in terms of possible extinction, compared with the past 540 million years, and they find cause for hope as well as alarm.

“If you look only at the critically endangered mammals — those where the risk of extinction is at least 50 percent within three of their generations — and assume that their time will run out, and they will be extinct in 1,000 years, that puts us clearly outside any range of normal, and tells us that we are moving into the mass extinction realm,” said principal author Anthony D.

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Scientists Discover New Lizard Species – On The Menu

There are a lot of strange animals on the menu in Vietnam, but usually you can tell what they are. This entree wasn’t even documented until recently. From CNN:

It may be an old menu standby to Vietnamese diners, but it’s turned into a smorgasbord of discovery for scientists.

Researchers have identified a previously undocumented species of all-female lizard in the Mekong River delta that can reproduce itself by cloning, and the story of how it was discovered is almost as exotic as the animal itself.

Leiolepis ngovantrii is a small lizard found only in southern Vietnam. A Vietnamese reptile scientist who came across tanks full of the remarkably similar looking reptiles at small diners in rural villages in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province became intrigued when he noticed that all of the lizards appeared to be female.

So the scientist, Ngo Van Tri of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, contacted an American colleague about what he was seeing.

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