Is there any help for pearl mussels?
We hear and read so much about plants and animal species being threatened by extinction, but not all species make headlines, like for instance the freshwater pearl mussel with the beautiful name Margaritifera margaritifera. Not only oysters and other marine molluscs produce pearls: the freshwater pearl mussel of the holarctic region on both sides of the Atlantic has for centuries yielded valuable wild pearls, too. But the times when these bog mussels were literally plastering the beds of fast flowing streams of areas poor in nutrients and calcium are nearly over – and that despite the fact that this animal can probably reach an age of 200 or even more years. —>—>
Suspense is a way of (arrested) Life
The idea that the earliest forms of life arrived on Earth from elsewhere in the universe and then “took off” here, is not mine. It is not even new and some learned “savants” subscribe to it. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe once suggested that this kind of “seeding” still occurs and life on Earth has a cosmic ancestry. Irrespective of whether that’s the case, let’s examine which multicellular organisms, now present on Earth, could perhaps survive space travel. —>
The good, the bad, and the evil
On an expedition to the Onabasulu cannibals of the Southern Highlands in the mountainous interior of Papua New Guinea near Mount Bosavi with my companion Tom Ernst, at that time a PhD-student and later university professor in the USA, we were constantly pestered, beleaguered one can almost say, by blood-sucking terrestrial leeches. They were sitting on slippery stones, clinging to wet foliage, attached to any vantage point on logs or trees that allowed them to wave their menacing front ends around in circles, ready to leech on to their victim as soon as they sensed our approach. These annelid animals are so adept at taking meals from the occasional passers-by that in spite of our utmost vigil, we once counted 42 individual bloodsuckers all simultaneously taking blood meals from Tom’s covered legs. —>