I keep an eye out for new discoveries that I can share with my kids around the breakfast table. I’m sorry that the current public school curriculum focuses almost exclusively on the negative aspects of humanity. History and English classes are dominated by subjects like overpopulation, pollution, poverty, and victims of oppression and war. Each day my children get a full helping of depressing and pessimistic education from their teachers.
To fight back, I try to find interesting stories that show the amazing complexity and beauty of our world, and the scientists and adventurers who are still exploring it. Here are three news items that made my kid’s eyes light up. Mine, too!
1.) The Pallas Cat of Nepal.
The pallas cat is a brand new species, unknown until a year ago. This beautiful feline is slightly bigger than a housecat and lives in the mountains of Nepal in Asia. The discovery was made by the Snow Leopard Conservancy researchers who had placed trail cameras to find leopards and instead found an entirely new species. The secretive little cat is known now, and will be protected. And no, you can’t have one as a pet. But aren’t they just gorgeous?
2.) The Lost Forest of Mount Mabu
Isolated by geography and war, the mountain of Mabu remained untouched and pristine in the jungles of Mozambique, Africa until five years ago, when scientists from the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens noticed the forest plateau at the top. Scientist Julian Bayless was noodling around with Google Earth and realized he was seeing something that looked totally unexplored. An expedition to the area found an astonishing, untouched forest filled with rare birds, monkeys, butterflies and insects. Julian Bayless put together a trip through some of the most dangerous terrain on earth and found a paradise. This is a hero to admire.
Recently Mozambique has started steps to make this area a protected conservancy. In the midst of political conflict and poverty, the political leaders of Mozambique are willing to help preserve a natural wonder. That’s a different kind of heroism, and also worthy of our admiration.
3.) The Purring Monkey of the Amazon Rainforest
An expedition of scientists from the World Wildlife Fund headed into the jungles of the Amazon in South America and in four years of research discovered more than 400 new species of birds, insects, fish, and primates like the “purring monkey,” the Caqueta titi monkey.
Thomas Defler, one of the scientists from the WWF, discovered this little fellow in Columbia, part of the Amazon basin. These explorers endured incredible conditions in the Amazon, a jungle that has swallowed entire expeditions, to find and document these new species. That’s dedication, and how exciting to think that there are more places in the Amazon that have never been explored. What will future explorers find in the wild and unknown places of Planet Earth?