21 December 2004

Just think of a monkey, it'll cheer you right up!

I always had such high hopes for those people who chased after the Loch Ness monster, sasquatch, and Ogopogo. Unlike lots of other fringe ideas that violate the laws of physics flat out, these critters seemed at least plausible: that there were just big, undiscovered animal species out there. Indeed, the finding this year of the species Homo floriensis in Indonesia -- and that we may have missed seeing them by only thousands of years, which is nothing in biological time -- adds a certain plausibility to the idea. I always thought finding something like Cadborosaurus (from my old stomping grounds of Vancouver Island) would be so good for conservation and people's awareness of the natural world.

Sadly, the field of cryptozoology (which more or less means "hidden animals") has yet to yield one single noteworthy finding. Nonetheless, I still find the idea of new species unknown to science a thrilling one. Of course, new species are still being described every day, but the vast majority of them are small invertebrates. And while I have a great and deep appreciation of small invertebrates myself, I still have to admit there's a certain appeal in finding a new species that's a big vertebrate.

Today, I read this story about the discovery of a new species of monkey being discovered in India, one of the most heavily populated countries on the planet. Very, very cool. Maybe there's hope that we'll find a lake monster yet...

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