The Tip of the Iceberg
Monday, July 27, 2009 | Author: eventer79
Now that your life is positively empty because of a missing Friday Fun Fact (can you find it in your hearts to forgive me?), I return but let this article do most of the talking.

We are caught at the intersection of two trend lines. Species are disappearing off the face of the earth faster than we can even give them a name. At the same time, in the last four years, we have discovered about 400 new species just among the mammals, like the spectacular monkey at left, found in the Brazilian Amazon. MAMMALS -- not tiny little insects that live only in one flower at the top of a volcano.

Current estimates say that we have only described (the process by which a species becomes offically named by science) about 15% of life on this planet. So let's say there's 10 million species out there. That means there are 8.5 million critters and plants that we don't even have names for yet (and by we, I mean the scientific community and thus, society at large. These animals, of which many are invertebrates, may very well be named and known intimately to secretive indiginous cultures who don't generally publish in scientific journals or grant interviews with New York Times columnists.).

The article is well and thoughtfully written, I encourage a read. It also brings up an interesting point: perhaps the reason we are finding all these new species is that places that were previously inaccessible are now noticeably not so, what with logging and building roads and whatnot. Sadly, what this means is that if the researchers can get there, so can those who have only short term greed and destruction in mind.

Even the animals we HAVE named, we still do not know well. Looking at the big picture, we understand so little about them, yet arrogantly assume that we are the masters of their fate. So many questions we still cannot answer, despite decades of study, of watching and measuring and photographing and testing. How many of those answers could change our own lives and how many of those undiscovered species could teach us a better way live?
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3 comments:

On July 27, 2009 at 5:00 PM , lifeshighway said...

A spectacularly beautiful monkey. If it does not compromised the animal, I long for a photograph.

 
On July 27, 2009 at 7:01 PM , eventer79 said...

The best I can find of its relative, the saddleback tamarin. http://travel.webshots.com/photo/1173244991052179691BbzsFf

 
On July 27, 2009 at 9:16 PM , lifeshighway said...

hmmm, looks pretty similar to me. The photo does give me a better understanding of the pattern markings that make up the "saddle". Thank you for the quick research.