Karen Lips, Research Fellow, London discussed on BBC World Service


Survive in the presence of this fungus Dr Karen lips was speaking to a hundred mountains and joining us for the rest of this hour is doctor James hands for its research fellow at the institute of zoology in London he specializes in extinctions so I'm the issue of the frogs it's still with us even though this is hope that perhaps they might evolve to counteract the fungus yeah I'm we have a huge problem with the catcher fungus affecting amphibians across the world today but we have a global effort of scientists to try and perception how we might be able to counteract in understand which species might be able to survive as well but it wasn't human action the because this was a natural fungus which involves to attack the frogs what humans didn't invent a fungus or try to created in any way but they'll probably responsible for transporting across the world and acting as a vector to impact everywhere ground love creating and pandemic of this infection just shows how one little knock to the delicate balance of an ecosystem can have such a dramatic impact absolutely once you start affecting species of animals or plants of fungus is and start changing the makeup of an ecosystem it's so complex that we don't understand how it might spiral out of control change irrevocably over the vast span of these to the planet there be many extinction episodes of many animals have gone extinct as as the phrase goes one of the main threats at the moment which of the species which you would be most concerned about well getting back to the amphibians and the public the catcher fungus I think the something around five hundred spaces on fibbing have gone extinct and lost fifty is a site about these con exactly be exactly linked to the fungus itself the send the other problems associated with it such as habitat transformation climate change and the way humans are impacting the world and if you can I bring it down to one defining point is probably humans but in terms of the the species which are most attractive mean we hear about the rhino for example and but that there must be others that are right there at the top of the threat list yeah I am when you think about extensions we tend to think about these icons that we look at but there are an incredible number that we have to focus on and trying as of today if you think about in a global matter a party Southeast Asia is the biggest target geographically but I'm Fabian's under incredible amount of threat mammals birds everything from efficiency as well Dr James Hansen from the institute of zoology in London for the moment many thanks the next extinction story from the past is arguably one of the most famous for this we're going back to the beginning of the seventeenth century that was when European explorers reach the uninhabited island of malicious in the Indian Ocean on it shows they discovered a remarkable flightless bird they named it the dodo and within a few decades it would be completely extinct Simon what's is used written records from the time to chart its fate is generated the dodo which the shape and read this man taken eyes the Phoenix of Arabia her body is round in fact few way less than fifty pounds on a is a small warned like to diamonds round in routing train three small plumes shorts and in proportional appetite strong and greedy well they look like birds yes but not like a typical bird that you might see in the in the garden not like a spiral responding these look like very extreme things Errol fuller is the author of data from extinction I calm they look rather like say a a great big fat Turkey if you can imagine or even a a formula chicken this sort of three times the size the wings were very significantly reduced because this was about the couldn't fly and the most important features this massive head and a great big baby looks rather I'm real it is sort of gross fatness why do we think the data you had developed in that way I wanted it lost its wings and develop this is huge belly what we think happened is the a group of pigeons chanced on the island of Mauritius I'll be there were blown by storm what they found a Mauritius when no mammals no catch no dogs no bears nothing that could endanger them also they found plenty of food so the gradually that evolved into bigger heavier things until eventually though too heavy to actually take off into the air soon basically they involved into a a specialist eating machine yes that would be absolutely the truth so why did they decide to cool this extremely creature of day today there are various explanations one of them is that it might be just a fanatic rendering of the birds cool Toda another is a Dutch word double Dawson which I think meant clumsy or some such thing another explanation is that maybe it was a Portuguese word which meant stupid but really pay money to your choice so it all comes you'll stupid neither of which is particularly flattering absolutely not it may have been clumsy and stupid but the day to day captured the European imagination it was a popular subject for Dutch painters and at least one life specimen was taken back to England as I walked the London streets I saw the picture of a strange looking for hello hung out upon the clock I myself with one or two more in company went in to see it it was kept in the chamber and it was a great file somewhat bigger than the law just Turkey cult what's the altar I'm thinking the keep the cold it's due to but sadly for the day to day it's very promptness led to its down full to sailors crossing the Indian Ocean the defenseless birds what irresistible although not necessarily tasty there are conflicting stories some writers said that I tasted absolutely horrible thought the fact is to stopping the same and that probably been living on hot biscuits and goodness knows what C. rations for weeks and weeks and weeks from the enemy tasted quite delicious I imagine and it wasn't just the sailors who ate the birds the animals that arrived on European ships also fed on the helpless Thursday we didn't just settle it by our own prisons we on settled it by taking all sorts of mammals their cats dogs monkeys peaks and these creatures they may not be big enough to hold the adult data but they would certainly hunted that shakes and might be stolen their X. wraps and things would go there right so we don't know to what level all of these things because the extinction but the combination of old seventy it was us that took everything there that brought about the extinction within just a few decades dodos were wiped out on the mainland of Mauritius the lowest recorded sighting was by a Dutch sailor whose fleet was shipwrecked in the sixteen sixties he saw a small colony of dodos who'd Kong home on one of malicious is offshore islands one of the ships most of the people manage to struggle ashore eventually although there are various horrible stories about what happened to them before they go to show some of the most sacrifice to the wives some of them were going to be eaten by their ship mice that didn't actually happen but anyway the whole thing was a bit of a disaster but eventually Stephan Avison managed to stragglers shore onto a an island just off the coast of Mauritius that was linked by so sandbars and things and and he maintained the on the small island there weren't does and like others before him he managed to catch some of these does need them one party of us would chase them so they would run towards the other party who then grab them when we had one tightly gripped around the lack he would cry out and then the others would come to its aid and they be called as well and then as now come to be regarded as the lost definite record we have of the dodo all intents and purposes this bird was extinct within sixty is of the Europeans arrival Mauritius over the next two hundred years the day to day was slowly forgotten them in the nineteenth century natural history became fashionable in Victorian started wondering about the flightless birds they just came a time when people realize that this creature in the stopped buying jeans and these are the descriptions could no longer be found so it was assumed that might be it never even existed maybe it was just a a mythical creature they made up and then bones of the Duggar were found in immersion swamp which confirmed by and large the early descriptions and the early paintings naturalists were able to reconstruct dodo skeletons from these buttons on the bird featured once again in books and exhibitions then the dodo was immortalized once and for role in the fictional world of Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll and the little girl that was to be immortalized Alice used to go for walks around Oxford one of their favorite Wilkes was to go visit the dodos head in the Ashmolean museum anyway what could have been more natural I suppose when Lewis Carroll's watching this book for this little girl was fantastic done in as one of the characters the dodo sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead well the rest waited in silence I'd lost the dodo said everyone has won and all must have prizes but who is to give the prizes quite a chorus of voices Aust why she of course said the dodo pointing to Alice with one finger he gives it a very anthropomorphic attitude it's adultery data it's innocent ten dot three does the yeah yeah and there's a story that Lewis Carroll whose real name was George seven pound has some sort of stocks and he's going to that that that that that that that that does for you that's one reason why I identified with the data and it was Lewis Carroll's inclusion of the dot on in Alice's adventures in Wonderland that sort of rocketed the dodo to what we might call an extinct superstardom because before the publication of that book the Duggar was just a footnote in the logical history after it the data was something that was on everyone's lips so it was Lewis Carroll very much that created the cult of the delta I'm the cult of the dodo continues the clumsy stupid giant Mauritian pigeon currently appears in books and on posters mugs and stationery and every child knows that nothing's as dead as a dodo Simon what's with doctor James hands for a research fellow at the institute of zoology is still with me can get very nostalgic about the dodo and is this emblematic bed I one of the first extinctions that people were really aware of I think the danger is probably the most famous extinct animals of the modern era of what we can say from about the seventeenth century but I I have a you know to have beef with the data but a pop to gets too much press for my liking I am more interested in some other giant bites from the Indian Ocean region I've spent my last years of my life for searching the Addison pads of Madagascar which included some of the largest buys the.

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