Weird Wildlife Wednesday: the Tarsier

This was meant to be posted last week and for some reason never went through so I guess it will have to work for this week. Sorry about that!

The Tarsier, a small primate, are so stinkin’ adorable with their fluffy faces, huge round eyes, and large ears. It’s a shame that they are endangered.

Tarsiers are found on the densely forested islands of Malaysia, Indonesia, and southern Philippines. The social aspects of their behavior are not very well known, although studies have found that some Tarsier species aren’t solitary like once believed. The Tarsiers are named for their long tarsal bone which enables them to leap far distances. They spend most of their time in the trees, resting and checking out their environment for food. The life span of Tarsiers can range anywhere fro 12 – 20 years depending on the species. As small carnivores, they eat little reptiles, insects, and birds.

Like most other species, habitat loss is a main threat for these guys. Unfortunately, captive breeding programs are relatively unsuccessful.

Source: http://a-z-animals.com/animals/tarsier/

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Good News for a Previous WWW Subject- the Vaquita

As some of you may recall, back in June one of the subjects of my recurring Weird Wildlife Wednesday post was an extremely endangered cetacean known as the Vaquita. I recently came across this article at TakePart.com about a single simple way that biologists are saying they could be saved. Check it out at this link!

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Dead California Gulf porpoise, also known as vaquita, is seen in San Felipe

Weird Wildlife Wednesday: the Gharial

The Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), a member or the Crocodilians, is definitely weird compared to some of its more commonly known relatives. If the elongated snout weren’t funny looking enough, the males possess a rounded growth on the tip of their snout.

They are found in rivers of areas mostly in and around India. When they are fully grown, they eat primarily fish, but the young also feed on other invertebrates. They are long lived animals and can grow as long or longer than 13 feet. Fun fact about their reproduction: their eggs are the largest of any crocodilian species.

Unfortunately, these guys are listed as critically endangered and nearly went completely extinct back in the 1970’s. Now they are making some slow recovery. As with a lot of reptiles in that region of the world, they are hunted for suposed medicinal purposes. They are also a vistim of habitat loss. Captive breeding and release is a challenge when decent release sights are in short supply.

Source: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/reptilesamphibians/facts/factsheets/gharial.cfm

When to let go: the Peregrine Falcon

Here’s some news from my neck of the woods. Peregrine Falcons were once on the brink of extinction due to the use of the pesticide DDT which caused thinning of their egg shells. Now, because of conservation efforts and the banning of DDT in the United States, their numbers have been bouncing back quite successfully. In California, the raptors are now threatening other endangered shorebird nesting areas. Because of this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will not allow any more chick rescues from San Francisco Bay Area bridges. This will undoubtedly result in several chicks falling and drowning in the water below. It sounds brutal, the USFWS says it is now time for nature to take it’s course.

This is a controversial issue, especially to those who worked so hard to save the species from extinction. When a species has been so close to extinction, it is often difficult to really know when it is time to step back and let them fend for themselves again. Who’s to say that something else won’t cause their numbers to decline again?

Source: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/07/20/federal-wildlife-officials-halt-peregrine-rescues-on-bay-area-bridges/

Little green bird spotted for first time in a century!

A little green nocturnal Australian ground bird, known as the Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis), was recently seen and filmed for the first time in over a century. The naturalist who found the bird has decided to keep its whereabouts secret to protect it and others from visits by humans. His decision is being supported by the director of CISRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) which is a governmental research body. The bird has been listed by the IUCN as critically endangered since 2012, it’s populations being threatened by feral cats and other animals and by human development since European settlement.

I always find stories like this fascinating when an animal that hasn’t been seen in so long makes an appearance. It gives me hope. To read the full source article, click herehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/05/night-parrot-australia_n_3548811.html?utm_hp_ref=green

Living Fossil Rediscovered

A fascinating rediscovery has been made in Israel! The Hula painted frog, which hadn’t been seen in 60 years and which was declared extinct in 1996, has been rediscovered. In the 1950’s, the Hula Valley, which these frogs called home, was drained and, with that, scientists thought the species was lost forever.

In 2011, the first Hula painted frog was seen after 60 years of hiding. Since then, thirteen more have been found. What’s truly fascinating is not just that this frog isn’t extinct after all. The real fascination is that this frog is the only living member of a group (Latonia) which went extinct 15,000 years ago. It really is a living fossil!

Hula painted frog Source Link

Hula painted frog
Source Link

I find this news very exciting, especially with the recent rate at which amphibians, specifically frogs, are disappearing. As amphibians with super permeable skin, frogs are very susceptible to environmental toxins and degradation and, for that reason, make great indicator species for the quality of the environment.

Link to original story.

De-extinction: Should we or shouldn’t we?

An article posted on USA Today poses as very interesting question: Should we bring back the passenger pigeon and the woolly mammoth?

I recently posted a video about the most well preserved mammoth specimen found which could be an amazing opportunity for scientists hoping to clone the extinct species. This mammoth had liquid blood remaining intact in the frozen carcass. The USA Today article discusses how efforts are being made by “de-extinction” scientists to bring back animals that were driven to extinction by human causes within the past several years.

Two Passenger Pigeons Source Link (Library of Congress)

Two Passenger Pigeons
Source Link
(Original: Library of Congress)

While it is highly controversial, I personally feel that in almost all instances, these species should not be revived. Mammoths, for instance, went extinct in a time where the climate was very different and the human population wasn’t nearly as large an dense. My thought is that while humans shouldn’t have driven them to extinction to begin with, it is now to late for most, especially those who went out thousands of years ago. The passenger pigeon may be a different story as they only went extinct within the last 100 years.

Additionally, there would need to be a large number of genetically unrelated clones produced to start up a viable, non-inbreeding population, and since that isn’t necessarily possible right now, especially with mammoths, it doesn’t seem like we should even bother cloning one. The point of it’s life would just be to get poked and prodded and studied until it eventually dies.

I find this topic really interesting and I would love to hear other opinions on this so please comment with your thoughts!