Thursday, 30 October 2014

Do you have Leopards and Cows in your own back yard?

Field Cow-Wheat - a real rarity in this country!
I expect many of you will have read about the discovery of a brand new species of frog found living under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty in New York City, one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

The new species of leopard frog was located in ponds and wetlands in the area of Staten Island, and it was only discovered because a scientist who had been studying Leopard frogs elsewhere in the States, did not recognise the distinctive call of this particular frog. He sent tissue samples away to be analysed and with the help of modern genetic techniques, aided by an acoustic analysis of its characteristic mating call, it was indeed deemed to be a brand new species!

If a totally new species can be found in such an area as New York, just imagine how many species remain un-discovered in the rest of the world! In fact this story reminds me of another amazing find in this country a few years ago.

There was a wonderful old lady who lived in Wiltshire, who grew quite naturally, a lovely little flower in her garden. She had no idea what it was but as it was so pretty, she let it get on with life, just turning the soil over a little every year to help it re-seed itself.

Then, just by chance one day, she happened to sit down and watch a television programme on endangered British plants, including one called “Cow-Wheat” which she learnt was now only found in 3 sites in England, and on one of those sites it was thought to have probably become extinct!

“I recognised it immediately as the little flower in my garden, but always thought that it was just a pretty weed” she told the botanist who visited her garden. However the botanist was not really listening - he was concentrating on trying not to faint, as he surveyed the incredible display in front of him. He eventually counted 7000 plants happily growing in her back garden!!

So, it does not matter where you live or maybe take the dog for its daily walk. Keep your eyes and ears (and maybe nose!) open, as you just never know what you might discover in your own back yard!

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