Sunday, March 20, 2016

sandias (and aurochs)

The Sandias - so called, it's alleged, by the Spanish invaders because they thought that the range looked like a watermelon, but probably so called, in fact, because they found lots of gourds there - tower above Albuquerque.  This picture flattens them, but at the same time it gives a sense of what was once a huge sea on the right.  The mountains themselves are young, pressed and folded up about ten million years ago by the Rio Grande fault.

I have geological age on the mind, since I was reading (and much recommend) Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction.  It's chilling, indeed, to learn once again that we of the Anthropecene are destroying the earth as we know it, of course - but the big impact of the book for me was the sense long-time, successive periods of destruction: in other words, once we destroy the earth, some forms of life will surely, somehow, remain, re-evolve .. Somewhere into this came a mention of aurochs - a word I didn't believe that I'd seen before; meant to check.  What was super-weird was that there, in the next book I read (Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree - an historical novel with - so far as I've got - Victorian natural history at its heart) - there, again, were aurochs.  They turn out to be a form of primeval cattle that went extinct in Poland in 1627, but farmers and genetic scientists are trying to resuscitate the type ...

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