LOST WORLD MAY ACTUALLY
Goodbye muntjac; hello lumber industry.
As of early 1996, General Cheng Sanyavog, who
in addition to his Laotian military duties is also
the Mountainous Development Co.'s chief executive
officer, is cutting down much previously undefiled
old-growth coniferous forest. While this is
commercially benefitting his countrypeople, it is
endangering rare animals, some of them not known by
western science until recently.
Affected is Laos's east central area, where
such newly known entities as the barking deer (the
large-antlered muntjac) and the soala are among the
inhabitants of the Annamite forest.
But if the timber industry and the Nam Theun
II hydroelectric dam project prevail, the search for
and conservation of rare fauna may be impeded,
related the February 11, 1996 Washington
A British brewery's plans for renovation of
the oldest pub in Britain were, as of late 1995,
delayed by a haunting curse, reported Australia's Courier
Mail on November 2, 1995.
Six decades had passed since the galleon
suspending from the ceiling in the" Ye Olde Trip
to Jerusalem" pub in Nottingham was last
cobwebless. It seemed no one wanted to clean it,
because of the belief that those who touched it would
meet their death within a year.
Frank Poirier admitted his skepticism, yet
said: "...good science requires some wild-goose
chases from time to time." Poirier is the
chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Ohio
State. Researchers from that university were, as of
early November 1995, conducting an analysis of the
DNA on some hairs taken from the Pacific Northwest
forest site where two ex-forest rangers and one other
man saw some Bigfoots. After the creatures left, the
three men gathered the tufts of hair, as well as
prints of feet and knuckles.
The sighting was from a hundred-foot distance
and in the dark. Scientific analysis might help
clarify what was seen, and whether the gathered hair
was human, known animal--or something else.
As quoted in Fort Wayne's The News
Sentinel of November 7, 1995, Wes
Sumerlin, one of the three observers of the entities,
on November 5 expressed no doubts about his having
Authorities stated that Mary Williams, an
88-year-old resident of Apache Junction, Arizona, met
her doom on October 6, 1995, from 1000 stings by a
swarm of killer bees.
The Africanized bees responsible for her death
lived in an abandoned home. According to the account
in the October 11 USA Today,
the generous dimensions of their hive were eight by
If atomic armageddon occurs, mice may be able
Mutant forms of the rodent are thriving around
Chernobyl, in the Ukraine, where the famous nuclear
disaster occurred many years back.
University of Georgia scientists wore
protective gear to enter that area and find out why
the rodents were coping better than other
The scientists in mid-1995 ascertained that
the DNA of the mice had evolved incredibly quickly
because of the ionizing radiation at the locale.
Chernobyl mutant mice have genes that vary from
regular mice to a greater extent than rats vary from
mice, reported the Los Angeles Times
on or around July 20, 1995. And these latter two
species branched out from each other about 15 million
Humans evolved from small mammals; if the
human race came to an end from nuclear folly, could
the resultant radiation help speed up the arrival of
a possible replacement?
ALARM ABOUT ABNORMAL AMPHIBIANS
Cica late August 1995, Minnesota New Country
School students in Le Seur found frogs with many
unusual features, including having only one eye or an
extra set of hind legs.
A report out of Henderson, published in the
September 1 USA Today, noted
that after a state probe was launched as a result of
these discoveries, officials stated that, at a
minimum, 40% of the frogs from a marsh local to Le
Seur were abnormal.
BRINGING BUTTERFLIES BACK
Dead and extinct creatures mounted in museums
may help bring their species back to life.
The Large Copper butterflies and the Chequered
Skipper variety both went extinct when hedgerows were
Now, matching DNA samples from both the
75-years-extinct butterflies and living ones of other
types, English Nature aspires to bring back the
beautiful insects, reported the Yorkshire
Post on March 27, 1995.
The photo published in the July 6, 1995 Denver
Post really did look like a ghostly
But it actually was a sprite.
Walter Lyons, a meteorologist of Fort Collins
presented study results of sprites at the
International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics'
general assembly, in early July 1995.
In previous decades, the pilots who saw the
sprites apparently dancing atop thunderclouds would
avoid talking about such blobs, which were pinkish
red and resembled jellyfish.
Unlike regular lightning, bolts that generate
the gigantic sprites have a positive charge, instead
of the negative charge common to the other 95% of
Eugene Wescott and David Sentman, both of the
Geophysical Institute of Alaska, were the first
researchers to officially document sprites, after a
satellite made the phenomenon known in 1989. Since
then, video cameras have at night watched the areas
above thunderstorms, and confirmed the things'
Fort Collins has been an ideal place to spot
them--probably due to Colorado's plains and
Charles Fort once speculated about large
lifeforms in the upper atmosphere--so what should be
made of an upper-atmosphere "sea creature"?
New Caledonia, off northeast Australia, is
home to some smart crows. While humans, chimpanzees
and some other animals have used tools, the crows in
this case showed greater sophistication than any
birds heretofore observed. The creatures used twigs
or leaves to make tools for snagging insects, worms
and other things. These leaves and twigs were
modified by the birds for use in holes and
crevices.Gavin R. Hunt, an ecologist of Massey
University in New Zealand, related in the Nature
issue of January 18, 1996 an account of his watching
the bird's tool-use and tool-making.
Pigeons may not be as stupid as they look,
either. The September New Scientist featured
a letters page of reports from riders of the London
subway who observed pigeons getting on, riding, and
getting off the cars with an apparent sense of
purpose--and of their destination.
Scientist, September 1995; Susan Okie in Science
Notebook, The Washington Post, 1/22/96
Circa March 1, 1995, the China Trade News gave
some information to Chinese business persons about
the taboos and superstitions of the British.
It instructed its patrons to praise
Britishers' pets, and to never knock knives against
glasses. Also: "When exporting goods to Britain
make sure you do not put any pictures of elephants on
the trademarks or its packaging."