The Woolly Mammoth: making a comeback

Two researchers at Penn State University have mapped the genome of the extinct Woolly Mammoth using DNA extracted from hair found frozen in permafrost. According to scientist Hendrik Poinar, this means it wouldn’t be hard to recreate the Mammoth and put it in a Pleistocene era-themed amusement park.

Mammoths on Parade
Mammoths on Parade, coming soon to a Six Flags near you.

Maybe there will be a baby Mammoth in next year’s Neiman Marcus Christmas Book? Which other animals should we think about bringing back? Oh wait, things didn’t work out so well in Jurassic Park, did they? It would actually be pretty hard to find DNA for dinosaurs, but maybe some more recently extinct animals would be easier to find. Maybe dodos will be the new dogs?

Your next pet
Your next pet

My trip to Ohio

Exterminator’s Window

While I probably have more to say about my weekend trip to Ohio than what is summed up in this photo, I found it very amusing that these exterminators thought it would be good marketing to make a display of stuffed animals having a picnic. Exactly the same types of animals they specialize in killing. If you are ever walking up High Street in Columbus, be sure to take a look.

I suppose it isn’t much worse than having a talking chicken in an ad for fried chicken…

Warning signs: reasons to stay inside

Snakes! Mountain Lions! Mountain Lion/Rattlesnake warning at Mt. Tamalpais State Park

When venturing into the outdoors, there is always a certain amount of risk involved. I think people used to take that for granted. The State of California (probably because they don’t want to be held liable) recognized that people probably aren’t as savy as they used to be, and therefore has posted signs about every dangerous animal you could possible encounter on your adventures into the wilderness.

Mountain lions and rattlesnakes are, to some small degree, avoidable while hiking. Especially rattlesnakes- at least if you are aware of them you can watch where you step and take precautionary measures. The sign about mountain lions at least tells you to wave your arms over your head and try to scare it away. I really don’t understand this sign:

Sharks! Shark warning at Stinson Beach

“A shark attack occurred here in six feet of water.” Oh great. Something tells me waving your arms in the air isn’t going to do the trick if an 18 foot long great white thinks you are a seal.

Finally, my favorite sign from the Montreal Bioshpere:

Ne Pas Toucher the otters Don’t touch the otters!

Blog Action Day: go vegetarian to save the earth!

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Happy Blog Action Day! This is the day when thousands of people around the world are blogging on environmental topics. I’m going to write about a simple way you can reduce your impact on the Earth.

Everyone knows that some people become vegetarian solely because they care about animals, but how about becoming vegetarian to save the environment? While cars, power plants and industrial emissions all contribute to pollution by putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, going vegetarian is one of the single biggest things a person can do to reduce their own impact on the environment.

From In a groundbreaking 2006 report, the United Nations (U.N.) said that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Senior U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization official Henning Steinfeld reported that the meat industry is “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.”

Bear in mind that PETA didn’t write this report, the United Nations did. Hardly a radical animal rights organization, it’s refreshing to see that they have recognized the startlingly effective impact of cutting meat out of our diets. The efficiency of eating lower on the food chain pays off in lower water use, less methane and carbon dioxide emissions, and less water pollution.

turkey farmI’ve been vegetarian since I was 16 and I’ve never regretted it. Start small, possibly by reducing the meat in your diet and eating organic and local foods. Or, go “cold turkey” (well, “no cold turkey”) and immediately cut animals out of your diet. Even Burger King has a veggie burger on the menu, so there isn’t any excuse to put your change to a meat-free diet off any longer.

If you want to get a Vegetarian Starter Kit from PETA, click here and fill out their easy online form.

Gray Whales: rebounding here, not in the West

On the west coast of North America, people are used to the annual migration of Gray Whales that are viewed from whale watching boats and places like Pt. Reyes, in Marin County, CA. These whales migrate between Baja Mexico, where they have their young, and Alaska, their summer feeding grounds. Gray whales have returned from the brink of extinction thanks to the ban on commercial whaling. Unfortunately, the Western Gray Whale on the other side of the Pacific is not so lucky.

“Noise threatens last western gray whales” >Read more at Far North Science.

Coyotoes on the Loose

Coyote on the loose

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, wild coyotes attacked a pet dog in Golden Gate Park today. It’s not a surprise that the coyotes live there, there have been a number of them living in the city for some time. People are a bit taken aback by the fact that they are lashing out at dogs (after all, dogs are the new babies).

In a statement to the Chronicle, the Animal Control Department says that “We have officers looking for the coyotes, and we are letting the public know about these coyotes.” Okay, great. What exactly does that mean. They are “looking” for the coyotes? What are they going to do to them? Is that like when parents tell a kid that their dog “went to live on a farm”?

I think people should keep an eye on their pets and learn to live with wild animals. You can’t be 100% insulated from natural world all the time, especially if you choose to go to a huge park that has a lot of nature in it. The Chronicle article says that “the coyote bit a Rhodesian ridgeback, a large type of dog that can weigh more than 100 pounds and was originally bred to hunt lions.” According to wikipedia, the end-all be-all authority on every topic, the average coyote weighs 31 lbs. The average adult Rhodesian ridgeback (also known as the African Lion Hound) weighs 70-85 lbs. and has been known to grow to 160 lbs. If a dog that was bred to assist in the hunting of lions can’t stand up to a coyote less than half its size it’s clearly a case of the dog being a total wuss.

I hope that people leave the coyotes alone and let them do whatever they normally do. There isn’t a whole lot of space left for nature, which is made very obvious by this sign on Ocean Beach:

Endangered Species Area

Apparently unleashed dogs bother endangered animals, but people having drunken, out of control parties on the beach and massive amounts of graffiti do not bother them.

And now, for Matt, an embarrassing photo from his birthday party at Zeitgeist:

Matt and Mark

Extinction: Not just for dinosaurs

Boreal ChickadeeAs if enough things aren’t going wrong in the world, it looks like the populations of many common types of birds are disappearing in North America. In an article titled “Populations of 20 Common Birds Declining” the Associated Press is reporting that birds as familiar as the grackle and the meadowlark are seeing huge declines. The numbers of 20 different birds are at least half what they were in 1967. Greg Butcher of the National Audubon Society authored the study that the article draws upon and he is quoted as saying.

“Many of the birds that are disappearing are specialists, while the thriving ones are generalists that do well in urban sprawl and all kinds of environments, Butcher said. In a way it’s the Wal-Mart-ization of America’s skies, he said.”

If you want to read more about this issue, I highly reccomend the Audobon Society’s website. They have a page about declining bird populaions.

Jesus. With a dinosaur.On a lighter night, this image caught my eye today. Monty Propps, a contributor to created it and I think it is great occaision to mention how much support there is on the internet for the concept that dinosaurs and humans coexisted on Earth within the past few thousand years. In fact, some creationists have pointed out that that Noah brought them along on the Ark! If you’ve never been to the Answers in Genesis website you are really missing out.

I never would have known that it’s entirely possible for Noah to have brought along enough animals to repopulate the earth without reading this site. Because the ark held roughly the same volume as 522 stock railroad cars, each of which can hold 240 sheep, it would have been EASY for Noah to pack a couple of dinosaurs down there below deck.

“Without getting into all the math, the 16,000-plus animals would have occupied much less than half the space in the Ark (even allowing them some moving-around space).”-

I think someone should offer a prize to take this site up on their statement that “a Christian doesn’t have to have a blind faith to believe that there really was an Ark. What the Bible says about the Ark can even be measured and tested today.” Get some wood, nails and about 240 railroad cars full of animals…

Living dinosaur, maybe.

Loch Ness Monster!

I’m sure everyone is familiar with the Loch Ness Monster. Despite the fact that scientists are generally unconvinced, many people are not. Recently, Gordon Holmes of Scotland shot a video that is so “convincing” even the BBC Scotland showed it on the air. Personally, I don’t find the video that convincing but I really like the idea of the Loch Ness Monster being real so here’s the link:

Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in Alabama. Following up on the “giant hog” story from the other day, a jealous farmer questions whether the 1000+ lb hog killed by an 11 year old boy was actually grown in the wild.