Posts Tagged ‘extinction’

The Last Tapu

23 June 2010

All images from the fantastic collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library

Got to wondering why my four-year-old post about the Huia, a fascinating and sadly extinct bird from New Zealand, was suddenly seeing a deluge of web traffic (well, by microecos standards), broken links and all.

Turns out, a single Huia feather just went to auction in Auckland and fetched NZ $8400 (about $6800 US), setting a new world record for the auction value of a single feather.

Huia feathers were important status symbols among the Maori.  The variation in the number of feathers worn in the hair of the individuals pictured above probably correlates broadly with their social standing, though it is interesting that the number of feathers in the images appears to dwindle with time.  An echo of the Huia’s decline, or a society in peril?  Perhaps a bit of both, certainly the two seem to have something of a common cause in the influx of European invaders, of the two-legged and four-legged variety.

Also noteworthy is that some of the photographs postdate the last confirmed sighting of a wild Huia in 1907.

One suspects the anonymous winner in the recent auction had status on their mind as they cast their bid.  As, I suppose, did their unnamed adversaries that  helped them drive the price up well above the expected NZ $500.  I mean the Huia’s tail feathers have a striking beauty to them, though I can’t help but find them more beautiful when the rest of the bird is attached:

When seemingly deeply vacuous contemporary status symbols like this fetch $10K, $7K for a Huia feather almost feels like an injustice.

But then, I guess that attitude misses the real injustices at work here.

New Evidence Points to Younger Dryas Impact

1 April 2010
Actually, this picture doesn’t have anything to do with the text, but we thought it looked cool. Copyright whomever we stole it from.

The PR office of some university announced the discovery of compelling new evidence that an extraterrestrial impact triggered a pronounced planetary cooling spell known as the Younger Dryas approximately 12.90512 thousand years ago, and ultimately led to the extinction of mammoths and those other things whatever they’re called as well the demise of distinctive Clovis Culture of North America.  Although the Younger Dryas cold interval has been recognized by paleoclimatologists for decades, scientists (well, physicists mostly) have only recently proposed that a comet or asteroid might have been the culprit behind the global cooling.  However, the theory has remained controversial…………………………………………………………….until now.

In a new study published in a scientific journal (you’ll have to figure out which for yourself we don’t “do” citations around here) a global team of experts have stumbled upon a surprising source of compelling evidence for the impact: the absence of compelling evidence.

“The complete lack of solid evidence for an impact at the Younger Dryas is pretty strong evidence that some type of cosmic cover-up has taken place here,” Jones says.  Who is Jones? You probably haven’t heard of him, but he’s an authority on the subject trust me.

“Of course, we can only speculate as to the nature of the super-intelligent space/time faring entities at work here, but I’m going to go with Terminator style robots.  I mean, we’ve seen this kind of thing before.  We’re talking something like Tunguska but times, like, a bajillion.  It was all like ‘sssssheeeew…….KA BOOM!!!!'” according to some other guy who wasn’t involved in the latest research but his e-mail came up when we Googled “comet killed the ice age mammoth dinosaurs.”

That other guy says more research is needed to confirm the non-findings, ” it’s scary stuff man, trippy, scary stuff.  I am SO high right now.”

Source: some press release, I didn’t have time to actually read the paper.

An artist’s depiction of something that almost certainly happened, say scientists.
Okay so actually I just ripped this off from Valin as usual. All Rights Reserved Unforgivable Realness