Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bark: Supersize m(ic)e

Here's another story of how man's interference in the natural order of things is having calamatous consequences on native species. At the height of British Imperialism, we colonised the Tristan de Cunha islands in the South Atlantic ocean. One of the southernmost of these islands is Gough Island, one of the largest Albatross and seabird colonies in the world.

When British sailors first visited the island a couple of hundred years ago they unintentionally brought the humble house mouse with them. In a worrying demonstration of Darwinism, they've quickly adapted to the colder climes by evolving into larger, stronger, more aggressive mice. Now roughly three times the size of normal house mice, these carnivorous pests have developed a taste for Albatross and are systematically wiping out the population by up to a million a year, by eating their chicks alive. Yuck.
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