Links. October 4.
- In agriculture cloning animals has become routine. Cloning your favorite but old pet is getting fashionable. What’s next? A younger version of your husband or wife? To me, it’s somewhat unsettling.
- The Lidl budget supermarket is shifting to 100% animal welfare friendly meat. A problem: slower growing chickens use more feed, which is less sustainable.
- After London and New York (and some other places) the spectacular exhibition Animals Inside Out visits my hometown, Leeuwarden! It is at the natuurmuseum Fryslan, the most innovative natural history museum of the Netherlands. Its business model is based on a mix of money from local charities, volunteers and spectacular shows which draw loads of visitors.
- We’re still discovering amazing new animals, like this insect which has the largest wingspan of all insects. And a truly spectacular and romantic story is the rediscovery of the tree lobster:
The S.S. Makambo a sea liner travelling from Britain ran aground. And from its destroyed hull scurried several small mammalian survivors — European black rats. The omnivorous mammals soon found an indigenous food they were quite fond of — the tree insect. Soon, thanks to the invasive species, the insects — which locals affectionately referred to as “tree lobsters” had joined the likes of the Tasmanian Wolf — extinct. Their last sighting was in 1920.
But 13 miles away from the tiny Lord Howe Island (modern population: 341) sits an even tinier island, the spire remnant of a sea volcano, dubbed “Ball’s Pyramid” after the British naval office who first spotted the 7 million year old spire in 1788.
Ball’s Pyramid [Images Source: John White (left); Google Maps (right)]
The spire is utterly uninhabitable and remote, but proved a joyous climb for adventurers with a solid set of equipment. And those climbers discovered the island’s secret — a spindly bush located in a nook 225 feet above sea level.
Climbers in the 1960s first noted insect corpses resembling the famed tree lobsters. But confirmation was difficult as the beasties were nocturnal. But in 2001 a pair of Australian scientists David Priddel and Nicholas Carlile and two assistants scaled the island. At first they were discouraged at seeing only crickets.
But under a melaleuca bush they spotted insect droppings. Returning with flashlights at night they hit pay dirt — 24 scurrying tree lobsters climbing on the bush and in the dirt below it.