Camel horde besieges Australian town

November 26, 2009

When camels come, they come not single spies but in battalions

A town in Australia’s Northern Territory has been besieged by legions of thirsty camels, The Times reports.

Residents of Docker River, NT, are even now trembling in their homes as a thundering herd of feral dromedaries lays waste to their town in search of liquid sustenance.

Townsfolk first noticed the vanguard of the humpbacked horde in October, as a few desperate dromedaries sought respite from Australia’s endless drought. As the weeks wore on, the thirsty beasts gradually swelled in number, cracking open fire hydrants and moisture condensers in an attempt to slake their burning thirst.

“Some people are opening their windows and all they see is camels,” Graham Taylor, chief executive of the MacDonnell Shire Council, told The Times.

Taylor has secured emergency funding from Northern Territory’s local government to hire helicopter-borne marksmen in an effort to exterminate the marauders from the air.

However, reports have emeged that a division of camels has seized control of the local airport, “causing problems with medical evacuations.”

“More and more keep arriving! The numbers are building daily!” Taylor screamed into a shortwave radio, moments before he was replaced by the sinister hiss of static.

Camels were introduced to the antipodes in the mid-nineteenth century in an attempt to tame the arid interior. Having lately cast off the shackles of human bondage, the creatures have successfully established a feral population that is estimated to exceed a million in number.

Through wanton environmental destructiveness, they have earned themselves an A$19m price on their heads. But if this month’s developments are any guide, the Australian federal government has had its work cut out.


Algal blooms menace Pacific, Channel coasts

August 18, 2009

Recent news confirms the suspicions of hydrophobics everywhere: the oceans are revolting. Last month, the Anchorage Daily News reported a vast flotilla of marine gunk, the likes of which had never before been seen by residents. A “thick, dark, and gooey” mass drifted across the Arctic ocean, indiscriminately sullying pristine snowbound coasts and emerald icebergs alike in its inexorable advance toward Anchorage.

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“No parking” sign is new species of tree

March 6, 2009

A previously unknown species of tree discovered in Devon has been named the No Parking Whitebeam.

Long known to Watersmeet residents as the “No Parking Tree” because of the sign affixed to its trunk, botanists have given it the Linnaean binomial Sorbus admonitor. Classically-educated readers may now indulge in a knowing chuckle.

The tree is one of fourteen newly-discovered species of rowan and whitebeam classified by botanists from the Universities of Wales, Bristol, Exeter and Oxford, and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

Novel plants don’t ordinarily get the coverage afforded newly-discovered species of animals, but are of course no less important in a biodiversity assessment. The IUCN Red List puts the total number of described plant species at around 299,000 (compared with 61,000 vertebrates and 1.2 million invertebrates). 3% of plants are classed as “threatened”.

In 2007, the BBC reported the discovery of a new species of tree in Scotland. It too is a Rowan-Whitebeam hybrid, though Sorbus seems particularly susceptible to hybridisation, and debate continues over whether they can be classed separate species.

The present study used genetic evidence to tease apart the trees’ heritage.