Kamis, 27 November 2008

On the Line with The Conservationist

Mr Jatna was about to withdraw himself from the crowd. it was fun to see someone ushered him back to the stage. to a group of SMU students he talked of how males in animal kingdom "beautify" themselves to attract females.

i agree with him. males can be as bling as peacocks. (It reminds me of an old mag article, "Meraknya Boy George", back to the Hamid Rusdi days.)

I was glad to meet him in person two weeks ago at an event for honoring the achievements of Darwin's correspondent, Russell Wallace. Jatna Supriatna, PhD. of Conservation International Indonesia, an executive director r& egional VP for Indonesia is himself a recent Habibie Award 2008 laureate .

That he agreed to talk to me on the phone made me happy, even after I mumbled "for my blog".

He talked of his recent discovery at Danau Tempe (where a Loch Ness monster-like creature is rumored to reside): new "kind" of monkeys. "....once again, it's females that made journey to find males." The hybrid macacas have characteristic of small size (smaller than parents) and webbed feet. anomaly no? that's interesting. He talked of lesser or lost genes that reappeared.

Is this evolution?
"I haven't concluded yet. It can be a mere adaptation, a modification, or evolution."

Adaptation. Modification. Never heard of these before!

Hearing this, I felt like, I'm still thee hundreds credits away to get my degree in science. Many a time I just made ooh, ahh responses. (very unscientific ha? lol)

"That's the wonder of nature's lab," he concluded.

nature's lab. how cool is that!

to be honest, I din understand many of his descriptions but it was nice of him to share knowledge.

To my surprise, the primatologist's first book was on poisonous snakes of Indonesia (published in 1981). creepy!

He: "Ever heard of flying snakes?"
Me: uhm-uhm.
He: "I often find them whenever I go to the jungle. when i sleep on my hammock, they often take refuge inside my body."
Me: how could you escape alive? or not get bitten.
He: "well, they're gentle creatures. if we aint afraid of them, they wont bite."
Me: gentle? How do they know we're afraid of them?
He: "If we're afraid of them, we release 'hormone of fear'. They'll become defensive when they smell this particular hormone."

Later he told me of the relevance of studying animals and everyday life. And also about primates' "office politic" i din know it exists hahahaha

a cool scientist he is!

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