A rare Worcester’s buttonquail, a bird species feared to be extinct, was recently discovered! Where? In a poultry market in the Philippines. A television crew photographed it before it was sold as food. Found only on the island of Luzon, the quail was known only through drawings based on museum specimens collected several decades ago. The basis for it to be considered extinct probably owes to the fact that the buttonquail is from a “notoriously cryptic and unobtrusive family of birds,” according to the nonprofit Birdlife International. So, the species may survive undetected. “The bird‘s demise should inspire a ‘local consciousness’ about the region’s threatened wildlife. What if this was the last of its species?” says Michael Lu, president of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines. But, there is one question – if the TV crew could photograph it, why couldn’t they just save it from being sold?
If you think the “super-cool” polar seas are devoid of life… get ready for a reality check! The polar seas teem with an amazing quantity and variety of life. And the interesting bit is that there are at least 235 similar marine species living in both polar regions, despite being 11,000 km apart! This was recently revealed by a census done as a part of the global Census of Marine Life (CoML) report, which will be published in 2010. It involved 500 researchers from more than 25 nations, and was carried out during International Polar Year. “Some of the more obvious species like birds and whales migrate between the poles on an annual basis,” says Dr. Ron O’Dor, CoML’s co-senior scientist. But, the presence of smaller creatures, such as worms living in mud, sea cucumbers and ‘swimming snails’ at both locations is surprising. This find raises questions about how they evolved and became so dispersed. So, scientists will now examine the organisms’ genetic information, which would help them to identify any differences between the seemingly identical species. “It's a new way to mark or classify things,” says Dr O'Dor.
Researchers at Baylor University, US, have developed a new way to transform coconut husks into automotive interiors like trunk liners, floorboards and car-door interior covers. Fibres from the outer husks of coconuts are as good as, or better, than synthetic or polyester fibres, and are less expensive. “They are better for the environment because the coconut husks would have otherwise been thrown away. Also, coconuts do not burn well or emit toxic fumes, which are crucial in passing 10 safety-performance tests required for commercial applications,” says lead researcher Walter Bradley. And if these car interiors become a hit, the income of the coconut farmers would triple! Need any other reason?
While countries are trying to deal with the current economic turmoil, people are willing to invest more than usual. Surprised? Well, this is what at least Asians are planning to do this year, reveals a survey done by global payments firm Visa. What is even better is that people plan to cut down their expenses on “dining (67 per cent), luxury goods (66 per cent) and entertainment (62 per cent)”, says James Lim, regional head of consumer credit and debt for Visa. The survey involved more than 4,100 adult ‘high income earners’ from Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong SAR, South Korea, China, Australia, India and Japan. It shows that more than four in five top earners regularly set aside an average of 23 per cent of their monthly income. Koreans save about 31 per cent of their earnings every month, followed by Chinese at 28 per cent and Taiwanese at 26 per cent. Seems like people are learning to stay away from “wasteful luxuries”!