Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Echidnas in the News

It's always nice when echidnas make the front page of the daily newspaper. Even if the AP story everyone's running describes 'em as "primitive", and other accounts call them "bizarre". That's not a very nice way to talk about an animal that, of its own free will, deigned to permit researchers pick it up. It didn't have to, you know. I do think the whole "Lost World" thing is a bit overstated and romanticized. The actual new species are all birds, frogs, and so on. Everything bigger than a bird was already known to science, but just rare and poorly understood. Calling the place the "Lost World" is just hanging out a welcome sign for the inevitable ravaging hordes of well-heeled ecotourists. The echidnas won't be so friendly the umpteenth time someone spills their soy chai latte on 'em.

Meanwhile, down Australia way, echidnas can be a significant road hazard. Here, a small local newspaper congratulates a motorist who managed not to hit one. And thanks to the magic of the Internet, the whole world knows about it.

Also in Australia, a new anti-litter campaign features a computer-generated Echidna, who's sick and tired of people messing up his habitat. Ok, I guess that might work, if you're going for the cute angle, but I still like Tim Cahill's proposal to enlist Rodan as the ultimate anti-litter spokesmonster.

Echidnas make popular mascots, it seems. Back in 2000, one of the trio of Olympic mascots was an echidna named Millie. Which is great unless you think the whole idea of Olympic mascots is stupid, like the author of this amusing article. Be sure not to miss the gallery of mascots from Olympics past.

Here's a weird, recently-discovered fossil creature from China that's giving paleontologists fits. The front half looks like a shrew, and the back half looks like a monotreme.

And while we're talking half-n-half creatures, there's the Echidna of ancient Greece, half woman, half snake. In this article, a writer for the local paper in Bangalore, India, marvels at the weird creatures of Greek mythology.

And since no post of mine would be complete without at least a little politics, here's a recent Usenet post to alt.politics.republicans about that current "Lost World" news story, into which some random fundie inserts "editorial" comments bashing evolution and making a variety of cheesy know-nothing wisecracks. He's just read the press release, and already he knows infinitely more about the whole subject than those gol-durned commie pinko liberal scientists. It's just amazing how that works.

No comments :