Monday, November 10, 2008

It's no snail darter, but...

Today's Commercial Appeal has a fascinating article: Unusual spider may put Memphis on scientific map.

Two years ago, while Baker and two other researchers were in the zoo's 17 acres of old growth forest, an unusual spider with a body as shiny as black patent leather and bright red legs scurried across their path.

They captured the insect, and the research began. They're now compiling their work for submission to The Journal of Arachnology, a publication from the American Arachnological Society.

It's great to see the Memphis Zoo exploring the scientific value of the old growth forest of Overton Park. If our forest is a global hotspot for the purseweb spider, as the article implies, just imagine what other rare creatures could be thriving in those ancient shadows.

In February we lost four acres of this unique and irreplaceable habitat because the Memphis Zoo chose to clearcut new ground rather than redevelop outdated exhibits.

Over the summer, the Memphis Zoo has done extensive chainsaw clearing and other unnecessary "cleanup" work inside the 17 acres of fenced-off forest. The botanist who is currently doing a comprehensive plant survey of the Old Forest has not been permitted to enter the 17 acres.

Maybe the purseweb spider can teach the leaders of the Memphis Zoo to read the writing on their own walls.


Stacey Greenberg said...

i was just coming to post about this! you beat me! i noticed a similar article in the Zoo's latest Exzooberance newsletter. They make sure to mention that the spider will be "featured as a resident of the forest in the [Chickasaw Bluff Trail's] interpretive graphics.

Naomi Van Tol said...

So they're already up to the interpretive graphic stage?

Wow. Looks like the Zoo is going to finish the plan for its Chickasaw Bluffs exhibit without any public input. Then presumably Mr. Brady will invite the public to view the final $50,000 work product, at which point it will be too late to change anything of substance.

I wonder who's paying for this plan?

Unknown said...

"SOME PIG" was Charlotte's original comment, right?

Unknown said...

I shudder every time I see that "web of life" text at the Zoo. It's from the famous "every part of the Earth is sacred to my people" speech attributed to Chief Seattle in 1854. That "speech" was actually from a work of fiction written in 1970, incorporated into the narration in an environmental documentary film called _Home_. The producers of the film (ironically enough, it was the media wing of the Southern Baptist Convention) decided to suppress the fictional status of the text and promote it as Chief Seattle's actual words. The unintended hoax status of the text means that any well-meaning conservationists (or green-washing facility managers) who cite it instantly expose themselves and their cause to scorn and embarrassment from conservative critics who seek to discredit sustainable conservation and smart growth.

Naomi Van Tol said...

If you stack up enough ironies, do they cancel each other out? Or do they explode?

Unknown said...

Uh... Thanks, Commercial Appeal, for making everyone a little dumber. SPIDERS ARE NOT INSECTS.