Sometime around 1970, a crate, or perhaps it was a cage, shipped from somewhere in South America, landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Inside were monk parakeets, bright green birds native to the savannahs and scrubland of Paraguay and Argentina. Mobsters may have popped the lid to inspect the goods, expecting fine wine or rare art, a baggage handler could have dropped the cargo, or the container may have been cracked or broken to begin with, no one knows for sure. But somehow the parakeets got out, and in certain communities they continue to cause a fracas.
An English turkey breeder named Jesse Throssel brought birds that were so meaty they had trouble mating naturally to the Portland International Livestock Show around 1930. Throssel’s turkeys, called broad breasted bronzes, were a hit. In the 1950s they were bred with white hollands to create a breed called the broad breasted white, which had a creamier skin tone. Reared for maximum breast meat, broad breasted whites became so popular that breeds such as the Narragansett, Bourbon Red and Jersey Buff were nearly driven to extinction.
Ellicottville got buried on Monday; by nightfall the western New York town was under two and a half feet of snow. Glenwood, just twenty miles away, had two inches. The culprit was a lake effect snow storm. Unlike typical winter storms, which can sprawl across states, lake effect snow storms are bands just ten to twenty miles wide. They form as cold air blows across warm water. Inside a band a foot of snow can fall in a matter of hours, accompanied by thunder and lightning, while just outside skies might be blue.
President-elect Obama’s phone has been ringing off the hook. Democrat leaders call to congratulate, world leaders want to talk policy and special interest groups hope that Obama will pay better attention to their cause than the Bush administration did. One group seeking Obama’s ear is the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP).
Beneath the surface of the Earth’s oceans lurks a strange and wonderful world filled with unique sea creatures that no one has ever seen before. But thousands of the marine animals have begun to surface recently, thanks to an Olympian effort by a consortium of roughly 2,000 scientists from 82 countries. The latest findings of the survey, called the Census of Marine Life, were reported this week at the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Valencia, Spain. Since 2000, when the census began, survey scientists have identified 5,300 possible new species (more than 100 have so far gone through the rigorous process to gain the official designation as “new”).