squirelawrence: (Brightness)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/7736786/Smallest-water-lily-in-the-world-saved-from-extinction-by-Kew-Gardens.html

Heard this lovely story on NPR this evening, but the print version is even more entertaining.  Apparently, the world's smallest water lily went extinct in its only natural habitat (an area around a thermal spring in Rwanda).  There were a handful of plants preserved at the Bonn Gardens, who sent seeds to the Kew Gardens, Britain's Royal Botanic Garden. 

The problem being that no one knew how the plants actually propagated, and there weren't any natural specimens left.  So you've got a bunch of botanists and horticulturists playing with the last seeds of this plant left on Earth, with no guarantee of ever getting more (in a tremendous stroke of irony, it appears one of the few remaining plants in Bonn got eaten by a rat).  They keep trying things, and not getting anywhere, until they're down to their last 20 seeds and someone has an "Eureka!" moment. 

I literally can't imagine being that . . . obsessed with a tiny, not particularly prepossessing little flower, and knowing you may be the only thing standing between it and complete extinction.  But I can understand it enough to be impressed.  Now here's a guy who gets to meet his Maker with a really, REALLY good answer to the  question "And what have YOU done with your life?"  "Well, I saved a species - that worth anything?"  "Yeah, that'll do."  

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squirelawrence

March 2014

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