07 February 2006

Lost and Found, Soon to Be Extinct

What's is the first thing you do when you find something valuable? Keep it a secret. What you don't do is go global, tell the world, especially if you expect to go back next year and find it still there.

Scientists are a wierd lot, full of brains, but not much common sense. They're a duplicitous bunch who evidently have no understanding of things outside the precepts of "laboratory conditions". Which is why I'm bemoaning the announcement of a new Lost World somewhere in Malaysia. They've found lots of things we thought were extinct, along with some new things we never knew existed. Like when you move house; you move the furniture and discover Auntie Agnes (who arrived to visit in 1983 and who no-one could recall seeing leave) and some mould on the fast track to cognisence.

The problem with this, although it makes us feel marginally less guilty about global warming and human expansion, is that we've now told The Naughty Men where they are. It's like a big sign pointing right at the rare and exotic treasures who are too naive to run away. And unlike "Golf Sale", this is a sign of which someone might take note. Will take note. One imagines wealthy and insane billionaires the world over putting in orders for Long-Beaked Echidna posing pouches and Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo jumpers (sorry).

It's like saying to a child; "Here is more chocolate than you can comfortably eat. I'm going to go over there and when I come back, I expect all this expensive, imported chocolate to still be here." You know what's going to happen. You can see it their eyes. You'll come back to be confronted by a chocolate-coated, child-centred abomination, who when asked "Did you eat the chocolate?" will quite innocently reply "No", the undertone being "And I'm quite hurt that you don't trust me".

If you want something this valuable scientifically to remain safe from poachers and the like, it would seem more sensible to wait until the whole lot has been documented and written down, before you leak the location. Even then, it would be wiser to lie about the location; at least be deliberately evasive. "So, you've discovered the extremely rare Long-Necked Spotted Tree Eater, thought to be extinct. And you're sure it's not just a giraffe? In Southern Canada, you say? When it has only ever been seen up one tree in Madagascar? By a myopic lemur with a penchant for cocaine and a flair for the dramatic? OK, you sold me, get me on the next plane to Winnipeg".

I fear that the scientists will get back next year, armed with specialised Echidna detectors and Kangaroo jump leads (again, sorry), to find a three storey white stucco mansion populated with bronzed, aging millionaires sporting Golden-mantled toupees and drinking Krug from suspiciously Long-Beaked champagne flutes.

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