Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Satanic geckos

The Leaf Tailed Gecko I showed a picture of in class is one of the most amazing animals I know of. I particularly like this picture that shows the impressive degree to which this animal is camouflaged in its natural environment..

The one I showed in class is actually the Satanic leaf tailed Gecko. If you'd like to read a bit about this amazing, endemic and endangered animals then this article at the Tetrapod Biology blog is a good start. It contains the intriguing information that some leaf tailed geckos have as many as 300 teeth.

If you're wondering why these geckos have such ridiculously high tooth counts (among the highest within Tetrapoda), the answer is.... well, nobody really knows, as virtually nothing is known of the ecology, diet or feeding behaviour of the species concerned (Bauer & Russell 1989)

The World Wide Fund lists all of the Leaf Tailed Geckos on their "Top ten most wanted species list" of animals threatened by illegal wildlife trade, because of the demand for it in the pet trade.

Personally I really, really, like the look of these animals. I have no interest in owning one as a pet, nor do I particularly want to go and see one in a zoo. I do, however, like the idea that there is a bizarre island somewhere where such creatures exist in the wild. Even if I never go there the fact that Madagascar exists will somehow have enriched my life. This is a strangely nonscientific concept for a scientist to grapple with.

We will discuss the strange concept of 'existence values' in a future lecture.

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