Monday, June 27, 2011

"In praise of the weird"

Page 30 of the 18 June 2011 issue of the "New Scientist" magazine carries an opinion article written by William Laurance (click here) , a professor at James Cook University, Cairns, Australia, titled "In praise of the weird."

It opens with the recent publication of an 8 second long amateur video, taken in Northern Tasmania. This blurry footage shows a long tailed mammal "...trotting across a meadow with an oddly stilted gait." The person who took the video believes the animal is the extinct Tasmanian Tiger.

Laurance himself, upon seeing the animal on the video thought that it was in fact a red fox. A faecal sample obtained from the animal, was subjected to a DNA test which said it was, indeed, a red fox.

The article then goes on to talk about "cryptobiology" "mythical, mysterious or supposedly extinct species."

Laurance acknowledges that there are some credible people undertaking this study. He names David Bickford, National University of Singapore, a tropical ecologist (click here) ; and Aaron Bauer, an evolutionary herpetologist, from Villanova University in Pennsylvania. (Click here.)

"But for mainstream scientists being a cryptobiologist isn't easy. Some have paid for their efforts."

However, he notes that new animal discoveries continue to be made including that of "The Mindoro fruit bat, discovered in the Phillippines in 2007, has a 1 metre wingspan." (Click here.)

In conclusion, "...we should celebrate the intrepid efforts of cryptobiologists. Yes, they chase bizarre creatures and flit around the fringes of conventional science, but we ought to appreciate their adventurous spirit rather than be disdainful."

No comments:

Post a Comment