10 October 2006
Driving birdos bonkers
Because now there's just one more for their life lists.
I love it when new species are found, particularly "charismatic" species, like this gorgeous little bird found in South America, whose discovery was announced today. I just keep hoping that these findings will drive home the point about how liitle we know about our natural world. And what behaviours might these guys have that have never been described before? A Ph.D. is just waiting for someone...
I was listening to this weeks's Ockham's Razor podcast , and had one of those "Aha!" moments that are always so cool: where you connect two previously unlinked facts. This episode described eminent eighteenth century scientist Francois Peron, who, when he was my age, had been dead for five years. (Apologies to Tom Lehrer for pinching that joke.) Peron did a lot of very intereesting science in many areas, not the least of which was biological surveys around Australia. The presenter mentions in passing that "many Australian species bear Peron's name as specific epiphets" (e.g., "sapiens" in Homo sapiens).
I heard that little one line comment and the light bulb went off. I suddenly realized I not only knew such an animal, I had actually published two papers about it: the slipper lobster species, Ibacus peronii.
I love not only the flash of putting two previously unconnected facts together at the moment, but also that reminder of past science as something conducted by real, breathing people with great stories to tell.