NewsBits 05- Rare sand creatures, Thylacines, and killer cats

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Arabian sand cats, Felis margarita harrisoni, were seen by camera traps for the first time in ten years. One of six subspecies, this cat lives in desert environments. Beyond that, not much is known. Check out the article.

There’s a recent home-made video from South Australia that claims to show a Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, alive and well. The only thing is is that these creatures were declared extinct in 1936. They were hunted to extinction, but it seems their genetic diversity was limited before they went extinct.

According to a recent study, that looked at the overall impact of invasive predators, found that feral cats have contributed to over 60 extinctions and threaten the most species overall (430). Check it out, and then keep your cat(s) inside.

On the other side of the spectrum, a group of researchers looked at the socioeconomic benefits of re-introducing cougars into the Eastern U.S. The models predict that if cougars successfully recolonize the area, then over 30 years, deer density and deer vehicle-collisions would be reduced by 22%. The total avoided costs in North Carolina alone over 30 years would be just over $30 million, according to the models.

Here’s a fascinating story about Peter and Rosemary Grant and their quest to find evolution in action. The Grant’s are well-known for studying finches in the Galapagos. After decades of studying these birds, they are now focused on looking for the genetic factors driving the adaptations.

We can all agree that there is little downside to taking a walk outside. There may even be benefits.

Want to learn more about the CRISPR-Cas9 technology? Here’s a nice introduction of how it works, and this article explains how it could be used in conservation.

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