Monday, July 20

#29 - animals (1 of 2)


You have ascended to a position in which you are a representative on a small but powerful panel that monitors and oversees all wildlife, worldwide. Unfortunately, soon after this panel has formed, a dangerous epidemic begins sweeping the globe, and it is feared that the death toll could eventually stretch into the tens of millions.

Your panel has been in contact with many different individuals and groups since the outset of the crisis, and nearly every scientist surveyed recommends the same radical course of action.

The scientific community believes that intense, exhaustive research on a single species of mammal would almost assuredly lead to the development of a successful vaccine for the spreading disease. The specific choice of species is not critical, it could be any mammal currently present in nature. However, the discomforting fact is that the proposed research and tests would lead to the extinction of the selected species. The consensus is that there is no way around this.

The decision has already been made to pursue this course. Your panel will meet in one week to choose the species that will be used for the study. What animal do you tab for this research and inevitable extinction, and how do you make your choice?

5 comments:

Mike said...

Apes. They are going to take over the world, so might as well beat them to the punch....

But no, seriously, I feel like this question exposes my lack of concern for nature. I think as long as it isn't like, the dog or cat I wouldn't care that much. It's sad, I wish I knew more about nature.

Aaanyways, I would try and pick an animal that is already going extinct (unless that hurts the research?). I mean, if its almost gone already, it can't have had TOO big a part to play in the grand ecosystem.

Then again, perhaps I would just pick the common woodland deer. Yes, they are pretty, and yes Bambi would be even more sad to watch. But seriously, deer kill people via running onto the road. I am no ecologist so I am not sure the impact here, but I think we kinda get a double benefit here for humanity.

HeatherR64 said...

I'm thinking either some kind of rat or something like a mole or possum. I guess the problem with the rat might be wanting to use them to test other things later, but there's more than one species of rat, right?

Chris said...

Could you use a hybrid animal such as a mule and avoid the extinction problem?

If you do the research and the mule species becomes "extinct" you can make more mules with some horses and donkeys.

Matt said...

Chris, that is a brilliant idea. So brilliant, that I am going to have to disallow it to keep the question interesting. No hybrids.

I like your idea too, Mike, so long as there were enough of the species for the research to work.

If I were making the decision, I would look at food chain diagrams, and also poll kids everywhere about their most and least favorite animals. I want to make sure I am limiting the heartache amongst children, who in general probably care more about and are more fascinated by animals than adults.

Another factor would be the perspective of language. I would try to avoid, by eliminating a species, rendering a common saying obsolete or confusing ("blind as a bat"). I guess that would apply to general history too. Do humans have a long history with this species?

Apart from these approaches to the problem, I would like Heather lean towards some rodent or some other pest. Though "molehill" would not make as much sense, would we really miss seeing this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Close-up_of_mole.jpg

HeatherR64 said...

Matt,

Don't worry about phraseology - phrases can totally outlive their animal associations. Dodo for example, though not widely used, still definitely is understood. And since the extinction itself would be historic I think people will still discuss this animal for a long time to come.