But don’t worry; no one is in any immediate danger, not even Jeff Goldblum. That’s because the “dinosaurs” in question are about the size of a dime. And, in case you are envisioning teensy tiny T-rexes running around, you should know that we are talking about moths.
Yes, that’s right. Just like in the old Japanese monster movie Mothra, except a lot smaller. “Tokyo is under attack,” the reporter would say in loud, staccato English while his lips said something else entirely. “Quick–wake up Mini-Godzilla!”
Anyway, this Australian insect is the enigma moth, and it is being called a “living dinosaur” because so many younger, more technologically-capable moths have passed it by. No, wait, that doesn’t sound right. Let me check the article again…
Oh, okay. Although it’s true the enigma moth is totally inept at using social media, the reason it is referred to as a “living dinosaur” is that it basically has the same features as ancient ancestors that lived up to fifty million years ago. It is called the enigma moth because it uses the same secret code employed by the Nazis during WWII, as depicted in the excellent film The Imitation Game in which Sherlock Holmes tries to defeat Captain Kirk by leaking state secrets with an extremely large computer, although it’s possible I’m getting my Benedict Cumberbatch projects mixed up.
Where was I?
Right–the enigma moth. It has striking iridescent gold and purple wings which, along with its miniscule size, would make it known as the Insect Formerly Known as Prince, if lepidopterists had any knowledge of popular culture. A lepidopterist, in case you didn’t know, is someone who studies moths and butterflies, as opposed to entomologists, who study insects in general, and ophthalmologists, who study how many times they can get a person to read rows of random letters without feeling foolish.
The really interesting thing about enigma moths isn’t their longevity; in fact, just the opposite. The life span of each individual moth is one day. This makes it really hard for enigma moths to save for retirement, but also largely unnecessary.
And here’s something you may not know: Australia is home to 22,000 species of moths and butterflies, only half of which have been named. It seems to me that there’s a lot of money to be made by selling the naming rights, just like they do with sports stadiums.
I mean, your small business may not be able to afford to have its name on an arena, but perhaps you could shell out a few bucks to have a moth named after your company if for no other reason than the entertainment value of forcing scientists, when writing scholarly papers, to refer to the mating habits of the Tony’s Pizza Moth.
In Other Animal News…
Your first question upon hearing this might be “What was a camel doing on a farm in Texas?”
What a silly question! It was the Camel Kisses Camel Farm, of course! What did you expect them to have there…armadillos?
Evidently, the Camel Kisses Camel Farm has been a major attraction in Wichita Falls, TX (motto: “We don’t know why we’re not in Kansas.”) for nearly 20 years. Children and adults of all ages come from miles around to be kissed by a camel or occasionally trampled by one.
I’m not sure which outcome is more horrifying.
According to reports, one particular camel was not feeling amorous one day in January and indicated that it was not in the kissing mood by killing the two people. The victims were taken away for autopsies even though the hoof-shaped* indentations on their chests made the cause of death fairly obvious, especially since the alleged perpetrator was found nearby with blood on his chest and mouth, which is generally not how camels are depicted on cigarette packs, although maybe it should be.
Ringling Brothers has announced that all its elephant performers will be retired and sent to the circus’s 200-acre conservation center in Florida, where they will be fed dinner at 4:30 pm. and try to learn how to use computers.
This is a huge victory for animal rights activists, although it may be somewhat less than thrilling to watch a trainer have his head sat upon by Jumbo the Ferret.
See you soon.
*I know–camels do not technically have hooves. However, if I had referred to “camel toe indentations,” people might have gotten the wrong idea.