Sunday, July 20, 2008

What all you do to appear in the right light in the New York Times...

"To reach Edward O. Wilson’s office on the Harvard campus, one must first push through a door with a sign warning the public not to enter. Then, enter a creaky old elevator and press two buttons simultaneously. This counterintuitive procedure transports one into a strange realm.

It is a space that holds the world’s largest collection of ants, some 14,000 species. Curators are checking the drawers, dominated by the tall figure of Dr. Wilson, who is trying to contain his excitement: the 14,001st ant species has just been discovered in the soils of a Brazilian forest. He steamrolls any incipient skepticism about the ant’s uniqueness — the new species is a living coelacanth of ants, a primitive throwback to the first ant, a wasp that shed its wings and assigned all its descendants to live in earth, not their ancestral air. The new ant is so alien, Dr. Wilson explains, so unlike any known to earthlings, that it will be named as if it came from another planet.

There are nowhere like 14,000 ant species known, rather than what we figure out are 12,451 species (see antbase.
There are no curators (a description normally used in the museum's world for a professor like position) in the collection, unfortunately.
Why to make up such stories?

Nicolas Wade, New York Times, July 15, 2008.


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