June 06, 2007

Cancri Virumque Cano!

Roman Crab.jpg
"A freshwater crab haunts the ruins of Trajan's Forum in Rome late last month."

This is just intensely coo-el:

The Roman crabs—of the species Potamon fluviatile—were discovered in in 1997. Recent findings from an ongoing genetic study suggest the animals may have been around for more than a thousand years before the ancient complex was completed, around A.D. 112.

Researchers came to that conclusion after the discovery that the crabs' genes are remarkably similar to those of Greek crabs.

"So it's very likely that they were introduced by the Greeks 2,500 or 3,000 years ago, which means they were here even before Rome was founded in 753 B.C.," zoologist Massimiliano Scalici, of the University of Rome III, told the AFP news service.

The Roman crabs' abnormally large size—more than three inches (eight centimeters) long, versus two inches (five centimeters) for animals in the wild—may also indicate ancient roots.

"Gigantism is one animal response to isolation, and it is a phenomenon that requires a long time," Scalici told AFP.

The crustaceans—which inhabit canals built by the Etruscans, a civilization that came before the Romans—are believed to be the only known freshwater crabs thriving in a major city.

BTB, this news, coupled with that about the discovery of a new species of creepy disco frog in Suriname reminds me again that the enviro-cry of, "If we don't do [X] immediately, we stand to lose a quarter of the planet's species!!!" is just so much rhetorical hooey. We don't even know how many different forms of life there are on the planet. Without such knowledge, it is of course impossible to make claims about percentages. (And before you accuse me of wanting to pave over the rainforest, I'm pointing out the dishonesty of the rhetoric, not suggesting that we don't need to be responsible stewards. So thhtppppttt!!!)

Yips! to Gail at Scribal Terror for both links.

Posted by Robert at June 6, 2007 08:52 AM | TrackBack

"crabs' genes are remarkably similar to those of Greek crabs"

Makes sense, as the Romans borrowed a lot from the Greeks. Even their crabs have Greek roots.

Posted by: rbj at June 6, 2007 09:24 AM

I remember telling my dying father that for every question man has on earth there is an answer (God made it that way).
If we wholesale kill off ecosystems we will for ever lose answers to some of our pressing questions.
My father had a PhD from MIT and he seemed to think I was on to something. He died.

Posted by: Babs at June 6, 2007 05:10 PM