Mankind's only alternative 28   JAN.   23  
Mankind's only alternative
Vlad's Daily Gloat - The eXile Blog
MAIN  RUSSIA  WAR NERD   [SIC!]  BAR-DAK  THE VAULT  ABOUT US  RSS
 
 
EXILE BLOGS

The Fall of The eXile For all those wondering what the "Save The eXile Fundrasier" banner is all about, here it is as simply as it can be phrased: The eXile is shutting down.
June 11, 2008 in eXile Blog

War Nerd: War of the Babies in Taki's Magazine The War Nerd talks about babies, the greatest weapon of the 20th century.
May 28, 2008 in eXile Blog

Kids, Meet Your President A website for Russian kids to learn all about President Medvedev's passion for school, sports and family.
May 22, 2008 in eXile Blog

Cellphone Democracy Cam If this girl was exposed to Jeffersonian democracy...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Dyev Photos Yet another hot Russian babe imitating the Catpower look...
May 20, 2008 in Face Control

Proof That Genetic Memory Is Real! Sure, the Ottomans shut down the Istanbul Slavic slave markets centuries ago...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Russia's Orthodox Church Youth Outreach Program The priest is going, "Father Sansei is very impressed with grasshopper Sasha’s...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

More Classy B&W Club Photos w/Russian Dyevs We took the Pepsi Challenge here...
May 15, 2008 in Face Control

Blogs RSS feed

Book Review April 16, 2004
 
A Holy Book
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 3
 
You read a few of these descriptions and your sense of worshipful awe turns nervous--a sense of protective grief in advance. All these creatures, every one worthy of a lifetime's study, and so many will be gone, slipping from "critically endangered" to "extinct" before the next edition can go to print.

Read this book to see how terrible that loss would be. How glorious is our clan, Mammalia! There are familiar zoo mammals who, considered closely, are too glorious to be real, like the Sperm Whale, Giraffe and Orca; mammals who were good as novelty acts but are currently overexposed, like the Meerkat; mammals who are frankly overrated, like the sluggard Giant Panda; mammals so beautiful they deserve a whole planet to themselves, like the Lynx, Serval and Caracal; mammals who seem to have stepped off a Gothic cornice, like the False Vampire Bat -- pictured on page 90 with a thweet widdow thongbird gripped in its jaws (Score one for the mammals over those hammy featherheads!); and mammals far more lovable at first sight than any human, like the Western Tarsier and in fact most of the prosimians and lemurs. (Your newer primate is not necessarily your better primate, folks.)

Some of the most impressive species are the sort of small, discreet scurriers you'd never notice if you didn't have this book. Take the Feather Glider, a tiny arboreal marsupial: I once saw one climbing the vertical glass of its cage in the night zoo at Sydney. Or take the Armored Shrew ("also known as the Hero Shrew"): it's only five inches long, but its spine is so strong that a grown man can stand on it without hurting it. No wonder "local people believe that it has magical properties."

We're not all glossy fur and melting eyes, either. In fact, some of us are downright poison. Who knew there were so many venomous mammals? I knew about the hind claw of the male platypus, of course, but never imagined there were so many other venomous mammals. Take the Hispaniolan Solendon on page 79, which looks like a child in a shrew-head mask. This native of the Caribbean "...scrabbles on the forest floor for prey, sniffing it out with its long, mobile snout and stunning it with a poisonous bite, which it also uses for defence." All the shrews seem to carry poisoned daggers in their mouths; the Eurasian Water Shrew uses "a venom in its saliva," while the North American Short-Tailed Shrew kills with a "toxic bite."

Reading about the shrews cheers you up, because nobody's going to wipe out these little hitmen anytime soon. The small, mean and hyperactive always have an advantage, whether they walk on two legs or four. But for other, bigger, gentler mammals it's already too late...it's hard to read about them without bitter grief and rage, and a longing for the mammal jihad which is so long overdue. Why is there a jihad for every wretched ethnic gang in the world, but no jihad for the mammals?

Some of these species are grief incarnate: the Musk Ox, saddest of all. The African Elephant -- your grandchildren simply won't believe it was possible to wander onto the savanna and actually see one.

But at least those species have had their moment of nature-documentary fame. Sadder still are the species which are going to vanish unnoticed. Topping that list is the Fossa, which may be the most beautiful predator on the planet (though the tiger and orca also deserve nominations). The fossa, which you will find described on page 271 of Mammals, looks like a vampire cat with phosphorescent Weimaraner fur, huge eyes and big paws full of very efficient, comic-book claws. It needs them for its vocation: hunting lemurs (lemurs! You should read the section on lemurs, especially the Aye-Aye!) in the trees of Madagascar. And of course the Fossa is vanishing, along with the lemurs and the trees. And for what? So that villagers can indulge their habit of producing ten children who will take the habit of slash-and-burn cultivation further and further into the last forests of Madagascar?


SHARE:  Del.icio.us  Digg  My Web  Facebook  Reddit

Browse author
dolan@exile.ru
 
 
FROM THE VAULT
Club Review
House Party Hipsters :
Russia
One Day In The Life of Alina (or 24 Hours in a Kiosk) :
Facial Expressions
Russian Facial Expressions :
Russian Rasta
Field Guide To Moscow: Rassclotus Chichimanus :
 

 
 
 
LATEST ARTICLES

Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
Editorial
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
Feature Story By The eXile
Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

Clubbing Adventures Through Time
Club Review By Dmitriy Babooshka
eXile club reviewer Babooshka takes a trip through time with the ghost of Moscow clubbing past, present and future, and true to form, gets laid in the process.

The Fortnight Spin
Bardak Calendar By Jared Lindquist
Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
[SIC!]
Richard Gere tackles this week's letters. Now reformed, he fights for gerbil rights all around the world.

13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
America By Eileen Jones
Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...

 
 
 

    MAIN    |    RUSSIA    |    WAR NERD     |    [SIC!]    |    BAR-DAK    |    THE VAULT    |    ABOUT US    |    RSS

© "the eXile". Tel.: +7 (495) 623-3565, fax: +7 (495) 623-5442
E-mail: office@exile.ru