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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Are these animals too 'ugly' to be saved?

Of course not!

Montage of evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered creatures (Clockwise from top left: Sunda pangolin, Chinese giant salamander, Mallorcan midwife toad, long-beaked echidna and Ganges river dolphin)
Clockwise from top left: Sunda pangolin, Chinese giant salamander, Mallorcan midwife toad, long-beaked echidna and Ganges river dolphin

People are used to being asked to help save photogenic pandas, but are there animals whose strange appearance hinders conservation?
Creatures that achieve world fame for being under threat - the panda, the mountain gorilla, the tiger - tend to be conventionally aesthetically pleasing, even cute.
But the scientists who study the planet's rarest beasts say that many of the most precious and threatened creatures have physical characteristics that, although perhaps not adorable in the most orthodox sense, make them truly unique.
A project run by the Zoological Society for London (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) is trying to raise awareness of these less appreciated creatures.
"I love all the species on the Edge list," says Carly Waterman, director of Edge.
"But I think some do need a little extra help to get them a place in hearts of the general public."
Here are a few of the less doe-eyed and fluffy and more spiky, scaly, big-nosed and slimy animals that might be conservation icons.

The long-beaked echidna

Researcher holding a long-beaked echidna (c) Peggy Rismiller
This extraordinarily long-nosed, sharp-clawed character is the oldest surviving mammal in the world.
It is a one of just three egg-laying mammals, or monotremes - a group that includes the duck-billed platypus. It has been around for 120 million years.
"A lot of medical researchers would like to reveal the secrets of their success," says Dr Peggy Rismiller from the University of Adelaide in Australia.
Rismiller has studied echidnas since the 1980s and says that if scientists could closely examine their biology, "we might be able to learn from them".
  • Found in: Papua New Guinea
  • Status: Critically Endangered
  • Population: Unknown

From BBC


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