The Incredible Journey (1963)

Kat Eschner's newsletter about animal-human relationships Vol. 3 Iss. 1

This week’s issue of CREATURE FEATURE is brought to you by the World Conference of Science Journalists 2019, which I’ve been fortunate to attend as a travel fellow. I’ll be posting a longer report on some of the biodiversity sessions in the near-ish future.

I’m also so happy to announce that CREATURE FEATURE is now also covering fiction! The newsletter will be sharing a quote from one story per week, with a link to where you can read it online. 

Image: An Arctic fox in its grey-and-white summer coat. This photograph is not of the female Arctic fox discussed in a below article. It was taken at Stone Zoo, an AZA-accredited facility. (Credit: Eric Kilby/Flickr)


Sam Wasser knows where the poop is 

TIL there’s a conservation biologist who tracks poaching and wildlife crime around the world using genetic evidence from poop. Samuel K. Wasser of the University of Washington’s elephant poop work made a big dent in the ivory trade, writes Sahana Ghosh for Mongabay and is now working on pangolins.  

Fun fact: Wasser’s work has the side effect of creating new DNA samples to be added to a reference library, writes Ghosh. Though this reference library will be used to track the global pangolin trade, genetic libraries of nonhuman species have a lot of other roles.  

Arctic fox takes the sea ice from Norway to Canada in less than three months

Researchers tracking a female Arctic fox thought her GPS collar had been taken on board a boat, it was moving so fast, writes Alison Rourke for The Guardian. But it turns out she was just speedy.

Arctic foxes are incredibly hardy animals that can survive brutal freezing temperatures as low as -50C (-58F). The animals have furry-soled paws, short ears and a short muzzle to help them manage cold climates.

Maybe gene-edited mice could help combat Lyme in the US

Although they’re a less well-known vector than deer, mice play a big role in Lyme disease’s spread. Unlike deer, mice are carriers for Lyme, which then gets transmitted via tick bites from them to other animals and humans. But some mice have heightened immunity to the pathogen, and researchers are hoping to genetically engineer it into their population, writes Emily Mullin for Medium

Extra credit: Did you know about moose ticks? Now you know about moose ticks. You’re so welcome.


“Matthew had been free and then he had been captive and he had continued living in exactly the same way.”

-- “Threnody for Little Girl, with Tuna, at the End of the World,” Seanan McGuire, Nightmare.


Bonus round

More things I read this week.


Questions? Comments? Complaints? Contact me at my email or on Twitter. If you enjoy this newsletter and would like to tip me, I am on Ko-fi.

CREATURE FEATURE is edited by Tracey Lindeman.

All images in CREATURE FEATURE are used under Creative Commons licensing. Efforts have been made to ensure that photographs of living animals or natural scenes have been taken ethically, in responsible pet ownership conditions, at AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums or under safe, non-damaging conditions in the wild. If you see an issue with any image we share, please notify me.