Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chinese giant salamander

National Geographic photo.
I may not have much of an imagination, but I can imagine this crawling out of a swamp 160 million years ago. It is considered a living fossil, gets up to 5 feet long, and of course it is critically endangered. It happens to be a delicacy. Why am I not surprised?

Click the box below to see one in motion.
National Geographic has a 2003 story about finding the fossils of its ancestors.

I've been fascinated with "living fossils" ever since I was a kid (many many moons ago) and read about the 1938 discovery of the Coelacanth. I still act like a kid if I see one. I have squealed with delight and run over to gaze with reverent awe at pickled coelacanth specimens in Natural History Museums in both San Francisco and London.

More fascinating amphibian photos on the National Geographic website can be found here.

1 comment:

artificialhabitat said...

I think sometimes these 'delicacies' are only considered to be such because they are rare - and not really because they taste particularly good.

Some people (I don't want to be accused of being racist or of over-generalising, but perhaps people from certain Asian countries, shall we say) seem to get some sort of gratification out of the fact that what they are eating is rare or endangered - they'd lose interest if it was common.

It's a vicious cycle: animal is (or becomes rare), demand increases along with rarity, price goes up, increasing the allure and fuelling unsustainable harvesting (even to the point where the animal is worth so much that people will even risk prison for the potential gains).... on and on the cycle goes until none are left!