Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Four Animals, Twenty-One Legs

It's been an interesting fortnight for water-based critters. Current Biology published an analysis of DNA from two whales that beached in New Zealand in 2010, announcing they are a new species; the only known whale species never to have been seen alive.  The closest we can get is to something with a similar skeletal structure, the ginkgo-toothed beaked whale, which is also almost (though not quite) entirely unobserved whilst alive:

No matter how often it happens, I never get over the thrill of being reminded just how much life exists in the sea about we know almost or entirely nothing.  I mean, what is this shit?

Or this?

Or this?

Oh, wait.  That's not a deep-sea-dwelling perversion of the natural order. That's a frog messed up by flatworms and reprogrammed to have eight legs. Nice.  And apparently it's our fault.

I guess it's nice to know that as we catalogue more and more of the species the Earth produced for us, we don't need to worry about running out of things to engage our curiosity. We can just mutate the everliving fuck out the most common of animals, and play around with them for a while.

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