On Sunday, Wisconsin Public Radio’s “To The Best of Our Knowledge” aired an interesting episode called The Bestiary, about cryptozoology, strange biology, and mythology. You can stream it on the website.
I found the handling of the Archaea a bit awkward, as sometimes happens in mainstream science journalism, but I was fascinated by Tim Friend’s suggestion that the microbe-rich rust coating the hull of the Titanic constitutes a novel ecosystem and perhaps a novel communal lifeform. This is not so farfetched, when you consider that each of our bodies contains more bacterial cells than human cells. We are a carefully balanced melange of person and germ.
In the 18th century, one species disappeared every four years. In the nineteenth century, it’s about one species per year. By 1975, it was one thousand species per year. And in 2000, it’s 40,000 per year, in other words, 110 per day. . . .I found this mind-boggling, the idea that, you know, at the end of this day, 110 creatures will have disappeared. . .
I realized after a while that animals that you and I might have known or have seen or known of as children, your children will know of only as stories, and children beyond them will know of really as myths, and in a way some of these books really did chronicle animals that have come and gone.
Via Endicott Redux