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IVORY-BILLS  LiVE???!  ...

=> THE blog devoted to news and commentary on the most iconic bird in American ornithology, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (IBWO)... and... sometimes other schtuff.

Web ivorybills.blogspot.com

"....The truth is out there."

-- Dr. Jerome Jackson, 2002 (... & Agent Fox Mulder)

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

-- Hamlet

"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

-- Arthur Schopenhauer

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


-- Jurassic Whatever… --


I s'pose I have some ambivalent feelings about this, but iconoclast Stewart Brand (with others) has a current project underway, called "Revive and Restore" to bring back-to-life various extinct species, using modern genetic techniques. Although their current focus is on the Passenger Pigeon, both the Ivory-billed and Imperial Woodpeckers are among other candidate species being considered.


Oh my, Stewart Brand! Perhaps we should issue a challenge to the 80's and younger crowd to identify him and explain CT's labeling him an Iconoclast. I might argue that one, even, and suggest icon is more apropos. But it wouldn't be very forcefully.

Note to the under 55 crowd: there's no need to resort to Google; the video in the second link gives the full story, although you may find yourself asking what the hell was The Whole Earth Catalog?

Answer: It was what we read late at night back when there was no Internet.

We are as gods, and may as well get good at it.

Note to Frank and Mark: I still have my dogeared copy somewhere, and I think I even know a used bookstore that probably has a better one as well. Somebody needs to collect stuff like this...

Okay some IRL stuff: I'm not a geneticist, but I've done some editing and writing for a really good one, and I get nervous about proposals involving Jurassic resurrections... Not because of the likelihood, but rather the opposite. It's a far cry to move from the sequences snipped by enzymes and "amplified" by other enzymes--that's how they sort out the millions of "letter sequences" in the code--to creating functional DNA strands which then have to be inserted into host nuclei (relying on suitable mitochondria from closely related species, I suppose). I had some hopes when I read of frozen mammoths in Siberia (using Asian elephants as surrogates), but I'm doubtful on Passenger Pigeons or Carolina Parakeets. It's to much of a "technical leap," IMHO, although, of course I would delighted to be proven wrong.

Incidentally, it's easy for me to see Stewart's fascination and hope with this one and its origins. It comes from the "duck and cover neurosis" of our generation. There was a writer (Desmond Morris?) who spoke of conservation ordinarily being the province of older folks contemplating their own demise. We, however, faced that issue in October, 1962, and I suggest that event defined our generation as much as any that followed.
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