December 30, 2009

Endangered Strangers: The Long-eared Jerboa




Me? Not so great, hoomanz be disturbin my habitatz : grazin' their livestockz, riding their motorbikez. Not cool hoomanz.

The Long-eared Jerboa resides in Northwest China and Southern Mongolia. There are around 25 species of jerboas on our planet. The Long-eared Jerboa's body is around 7-10 centimeters long and their tail can be up to 18 centimeters long!

This Jerboa has some pretty cool adaptations. Tufts of stiff hairs onthe soles of his feet enable the Jerboa to walk on loose sand. His back legs are much longer than his front legs and enable him to hop about like a kangaroo. Not tomention: his ears are 1/3 larger than his head! Even with these big ears the Long-eared Jerboa can run faster than other jerboas. They just press their big ears flat on their back while running to become more aerodynamic.

Astonishingly, the ancient battles of the mongol empire could be having a negative effect on the Long-eared Jerboas of today. According to EDGE fellow Uuganbadrakh "The Mongolian Gobi desert contains many ancient objects, such as rust of arrow, bone of dinosaurs, jewels and so on." Sounds magical; a treasure hunters dream. Except that treasure hunters in the Gobi could be damaging the jerboa's habitat. People digging for rusty arrow heads in the Gobi to sell to China are leaving multitudes of holes in the ground. Uuganbadrakh speculates that these holes are damaging or disturbing the Jerboa's habitat.

I can has cheezburger? Nope, you can have insects, and possibly seeds and succulent plants.

And you, dear reader, can have the first known footage of the Long-eared Jerboa in the wild courtesy of EDGE:

We will be featuring a new Endangered Stranger every Wednesday so be sure to check back next week!

December 28, 2009


This Banksy  piece appeared along London's Regents Canal after the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.  

December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays Animal Nerd Fest! Death Metal Edition.

We thought it best to spread holiday cheer by sharing this video of the Blood-Squirting Regal Horned Lizard.
Thank the gods this guy is not endangered! If he was I would find a way squirt blood out of my eyes at everyone responsible. Even if it required a prosthetic eye-blood-squirter implant.

However in California, Texas, and other states, horned lizards are considered threatened and given state protection. The Texas horned lizard has declined in about 30% of its range, though there is some indication it may be making a comeback.  Development and habitat destruction are thought to be responsible for the population decline. As well as the spread of non-native South American ants which compete and war with the harvester ant, the horned lizard's main food source. Yes that is right: ant wars!

“When harvester ants fight, they grab onto each other with their mandibles and hold on.  Often each ant clamps the other’s petiole, the segment that attaches the abdomen to the thorax…  Sometimes one ant succeeds in breaking the other into two pieces.  Sometimes an ant dies while clamped on to another, but the mandibular muscles of a dead ant maintain their grip though the rest of the ant may break off.  …it is not unusual to see an ant walking around with just the head of its attacker still attached to its petiole.”  - Deborah Gordon in Ants At Work

The overuse of pesticides which kill harvester ants are not helping the matter. If you live in Texas, California or other areas where the horned lizard resides here are some simple things you can do to help conserve these awesome, blood-squirting lizards.

And... If you would like to totally nerd out on ants go immediately to AntWeb. Yes, AntWeb where you can find lots of ant facts along with super high res glamour shots of ants.

 Cylindromyrmex whymperi from AntWeb

Happy Holidays!

December 17, 2009

Tool-use in invertebrates: Octopuses go coo-coo for coconuts!

Following up on Chris' great post about ocean-life, I wanted to share an amazing video that came to me through our pals at Center for Biological Diversity.

Australian scientists have discovered, and documented, an Indonesian species of octopus that uses coconut shells as a means of shelter and protection from predators.

The veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, was observed searching out coconuts, which it then cleaned out, carried some distance and assembled to make a protective spherical hiding place.

Julian Finn and Mark Norman of Museum Victoria observed this behavior four times. Finn comments: "I was gobsmacked. I mean, I've seen a lot of octopuses hiding in shells, but I've never seen one that grabs it up and jogs across the sea floor. I was trying hard not to laugh."
(Skip to 0:50 to see this in action, and try your best not to laugh too!)

These findings constitute an important and truly incredible discovery, as tool use has never before been recorded in invertebrates.

After reviewing the findings, Simon Robson, associate professor of tropical biology at James Cook University, made this inspiring comment, that speaks well to my feelings about this discovery too:

"It's another example where we can think about how similar humans are to the rest of the world. We are just a continuum of the entire planet."

Will wonders never cease?

Nature is so vast and intricate, I suspect they never will!

December 16, 2009

An Endangered Ocean

Stanley Meltzoff
"Two Bonefish and Coral Clump with Crab at Chub Cay"
Oil on mounted canvas
20 x 28 inches

The son of an avid saltwater fisherman, many of my summer days were spent offshore. Departing the Wachapreague, Virginia, docks at 5 AM, the sky broke pink as my father carefully piloted his Boston Whaler through the salt marsh channels. Upon reaching the ocean inlet, we'd begin a thirty or forty mile run toward the sun-soaked eastern horizon. By 8 AM, we'd be trolling for yellowfin and bluefin tuna, dolphin ("mahimahi"), amberjack, or various mackerel species. If that technique proved unsuccessful (or if my father's fishy hunches proved wrongheaded), we'd move west, closer to shore, so that we could bottom-fish for black sea bass, spot, and weakfish over scuttled World War II ships and defeated German U-boats.

Compared to my father, I was unenthusiastic about salt-water fishing. I much preferred fishing on a pond, fly or spin casting into "honey holes," those storied pockets where the giant largemouth bass, perch and bluegill dwell. The relative solitude and meditative character of freshwater fishing appeals to my temperament. I associate the leisurely activity with the soft-spoken stroke of the canoe paddle; the rhythmic, almost ritualized casting of a fly or lure; the temperate spring breezes that lick my bare forearms as they do the banks' willow and maple trunks; the ecstatic chatter of a kingfisher. Above all, I associate it with a sense of universal benevolence. This, in stark contrast to fishing offshore, where Nature's benevolence is tempered by ambivalent and awesome forces.

Still, I enjoyed being on the open ocean. I loved the bounce and glide of my father's Whaler as it motored over the Atlantic chop, and I was delighted by the otherworldliness of ocean life: shadowy hammerheads passing through depth-piercing sun rays; dolphins propelling themselves skyward to get a better look at us; the surprising company of terns and gulls so far from land; loggerhead sea turtles basking on the ocean's surface; hundreds of cownose rays flying just beneath the water's surface. These images, and many others, stay with me. The ocean is a mysterious, thrilling place.

Sadly, it is also a threatened place. The most dire reports forecast that the ocean's fish species will be depleted by mid-century. If that should come to pass, our world's biodiversity and ecological integrity will have been dealt an awful blow.

Time and evolution will march on, heedless of our nostalgic and preservationist impulses, but their ambivalence doesn't mean we've license to shrug and capitulate to the selfish wonts of the average consumer. Future generations should bear witness to the wonderful abundance that we have known and, to a lesser degree, still know. If we live conscientiously, with an open mind and heart, perhaps that can be so.

Image credit: Meltzoff reproduction via MoldyChum

Note: This post originally appeared in a different form on Hungry Hyaena (June 12, 2009).

December 14, 2009

ESPP Welcomes Christopher Reiger to the Blog!

Molly Schafer and Jenny Kendler are very excited to welcome artist and writer Christopher Reiger as the third contributor to the ESPP blog. Christopher has been an ESPP kindred spirit for some time, having helped spread the word about ESPP, and creating an ESPP print of the Red Wolf, scheduled for release in early 2010. We also hear whispers in the trees about other exciting prints that he may have germinating...

We first "met" Christopher a few years back through following his fantastic blog Hungry Hyaena, where he discusses art, ecology, natural history, philosophy and theology. After reading a Hungry Hyaena post on painter Tom Uttech, the two of us encountered Uttech's painting Nin Maminawendam by surprise at Art Chicago, and were left awestruck. We've felt a camaraderie ever since, and are glad to be working together on subject matter that runs deep for all three of us.

Christopher Reiger   
Submerged in His Erotic Mystification
Watercolor, gouache, sumi ink and marker on Arches paper
Christopher shares our wonderment, understanding and concern for the natural world. In his paintings he is interested in "contemporary man's mutable conception of Nature." His skillful and detailed works merge the imagery of science and mysticism into a fluid and evolving whole, which reveals a deep sense of wonder and belonging to an ecosystem unbound by conventional strictures. He maintains a charitable sales model for his art, donating a portion of all sales to select non-profit organizations.
Christopher Reiger
Further Murmuration
Watercolor, gouache, pen and sumi ink on Arches paper 

Christopher Reiger's recent art world activities include his solo show Some Species of Song at Denise Bibro Platform Gallery and a residency at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. He also contributed the monograph foreword for FORTY: Selected Works by Les Seifer (2001 - 2009).

Please take some time to view more of Christopher's work here. And read more by him here.

-Molly & Jenny

December 11, 2009

Thanks to all our supporters...

To date, ESPP has raised almost $1200 for critically endangered species!

December 9, 2009

Meet the ESPP Artist: Jerstin Crosby

Endangered Species Print Project guest artist Jerstin Crosby created our wonderful print of the Golden-crowned sifaka to support the Duke Lemur Center in his previous state of residence- North Carolina. Molly sat down with Jerstin over the interwebs to chat about art, animals, and ninjas. Molly's questions are in aqua below, Jerstin's responses in black.

First off I would just like to say thanks for contributing your drawing "The Foreigner" of a Golden-crowned Sifaka for ESPP.  Researching the Golden-crowned Sifaka for the info part of the ESPP site was eye opening for me. I did not realize how dire the circumstances are right now in Madagascar due to the political instabilty. Your choice of the GCS lemur brought this issue to ESPP's attention. Thanks.

While I worked over the interwebs with the Duke Lemur Center to get the latest info on the Golden-crowned sifaka  population you were at the center shaking hands and meeting lemurs. I'd like to hear more about the live lemur action.  
Basically, all of what I know about Lemurs comes from my visit to the Duke Lemur Center and subsequent follow-up research.  My favorites were in the nocturnal area, which houses some lemurs like the Aye Aye and Loris species which remind me of the token wide-eyed, super-cute and vulnerable characters from Pixar animations.  Also, I didn't realize how rare these animals are- even in captivity.  Most of the species they have at the DLC are only  living either there, or Madagascar.

Jerstin Crosby    
Spider Monkey Rescue
Graphite on Paper

Besides the Golden-crowned sifaka does any animal, plant, or mineral hold a special place in your heart?
I'm always amazed when I spot a wild creature, especially animals that I don't see very often like a fox, or coyote.  I saw an albino deer two years ago which was special, because I'm so de-sensitized to seeing deer where I grew up in the south. I really like to see swampy things, like alligators.  As a kid, I got to see them rather often in lakes or when I'd accidentally waterski past one on the Chatahoochee River.  Last night I was talking to a friend on his front porch and a deer ran past the house down the sidewalk, along the street.  I tried to get a photo but it was too dark.

Jerstin Crosby  
Community News and Events #1
Acrylic, gouache on linen 

Your work, including your recent solo show at Lump Gallery "If You Build It We Will Burn It", deals with animal liberation, or more accurately, the subcultures around animal rights/liberation. Tell us more about your work and what influences it.
My installations, videos, drawings, and other projects are presenting these ideas within a contemporary art context.  I think the strongest thing about "If You Build It....." was that it brought these ideas to a format where viewers could question the reasons behind them.  If I was a writer I would be writing about these people, and if I was a documentary filmmaker I would have made a film, but it happens that the way I am able to process this information is through visual forms.  That is why I titled the back room Lump installation "Visual Representation of Invisible Processes".  The installation served as a location where I could present the visual imformation I gathered through my research all in one mash-up.  The front room installation "La Jolla Crossroads" was a literal recreation of an action by the ELF that brought the viewer into the piece as a way of encaging them within the facts of that arson.  That entire show was influenced by modern art ideas of site-specificity, land-art, kinetic work, as well as advertising, news dissemination, extremism, and a genuine appeal for viewers to contemplate animal rights and environmental issues.

Jerstin Crosby
La Jolla Crossroads
Installation detail
So if you were a trained ninja assasin, would you post up in trees in the forests of Madgascar and take out bushmeat poachers one by one? I would, but I'm not very PC.
I would be more into building elaborate "Home Alone" style booby traps.

Ha ha!!! What upcoming projects are you working on?
Currently working towards an installation that will include a 3-channel video, and a billboard that will be up at Good Citizen Gallery in St. Louis at the beginning of 2010.

Jerstin Crosby is an interdisciplinary artist. Born in 1979 in southern Alabama, he currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA.  For more information please visit

To see Jerstin's print for ESPP or "Peep the Leem" as we like to say go here.

December 8, 2009


Thanks to Little Paper Planes for getting the word out about ESPP! You can read their post here. Little Paper Planes is an online store bringing together a community of artists. Be sure to check out their shop o' tantalizing art and treasures here.

December 7, 2009

Shagged by a Kakapo!

Come a little closer my pretty...

The video at the end of this post is an excerpt from the BBC series "Last Chance to See: A Search for Animals on the Edge of Extinction." It sounds silly from someone who doesn't even own a TV, but the television programs (or, uh...programmes) in the UK are one of the things that I miss most about the time I lived in London; consistently great programming that was both educational and entertaining, with that ever-present dry British humor.

This excerpt is a bit of silliness that we thought our readers would enjoy, where a critically endangered Kakapo --- a highly unusual ground dwelling parrot that is endemic to New Zealand --- attempts to mate with a man's head. Yep, that's right...his head.

As of today, only 125 Kakapo remain, most of which have been given names by researchers. Because of habitat loss, and predators introduced by human being, Sirocco, the open-minded and adventuresome fellow you see here, may be one of the last of his kind --- unless people can step up to the plate to preserve this wonderful bird. The Kakapo's unusual owl-like face and front facing eyes, adapted for nocturnal life in the undergrowth, as well as it's flightlessness and excellent camouflage make it truly a unique species; a rarity, that if lost, would diminish our heritage as residents of planet Earth.

Keep on the look out for an ESPP print of the Kakapo that is scheduled for release this coming spring and enjoy the video!

December 3, 2009

Help Get 2 Million Acres of Habitat Protected for Beluga Whales!

From our friends at Center for Biological Diversity:

Under threat of a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, this week the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed to protect almost 2 million acres of habitat for the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale. The beluga -- seriously imperiled by dangers like industrial development, global warming, and sewage spewed directly into its habitat -- was protected under the Endangered Species Act in October 2008, after petitions and litigation by the Center and allies. But even after putting off habitat protections for a year, the Fisheries Service made no move to safeguard the whale's Cook Inlet home until we threatened to sue.

The Cook Inlet beluga is now down to only about 300 individuals, and no wonder -- its habitat is the most populated and fastest-growing watershed in Alaska. Federally protected "critical habitat" will be a huge help to the whale. But the Fisheries Service is already getting pressure from oil-friendly politicians to curtail the designation. If anything, the Fisheries Service should have designated more habitat, not less, as habitat protections are currently only proposed for the upper part of Cook Inlet. The beluga needs protection in the entire Inlet, and soon, if it's to survive and recover.

Take action here
to ensure that the belugas get all the habitat protections they need!