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Your Questions About How To Discover New Species

Mark asks…

How do you get a groundhog to stay away?

I recently discovered a groundhog had dug a hole right next to my house. I have some animal repellent spray. Will that be enough to make sure it doesn’t come back?

New Niche Finder answers:

Get some coyote pee – no joke.
I have five dogs of various heritage, and that meant nothing. Granted, none were Jack Russells – but still. Groundhogs aren’t scared of dogs.

I had a groundhog burrow under my front porch – which was far better than having skunks, so I let her stay to raise babies that summer. The next spring, the skunks came cruising, so I posted some coyote pee by the porch to ward them off, and never saw Mrs. Whistlepig again.

The coyote pee is available at garden centers. It’s pricey, but as they say, a little goes a long way.
Here is one of my all time favorite websites:
http://www.predatorpee.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=CU

It’s far better than poisoning them or blowing them up. They’re otherwise fairly hard to get rid of, and beneficial to other species like garter snakes and rabbits. But so much better than skunks!!!!

Mary asks…

How do creationists explain the 615 newly discovered species in Madagascar, if evolution isn’t true?

New Niche Finder answers:

With Non Sequiturs, a Book, and a lot of opposition and narrow mindedness.

Ruth asks…

How long can a lizard survive without food and water?

I was gone on a two week trip only to discover there was a lizard behind my bed thanks to my cat im assuming and it ran away before I could catch it. It has been there for at least two weeks since it can’t leave my room how long will it survive and how can I catch it? I’d hate to have a dead lizard lying around my bedroom.

New Niche Finder answers:

Depends on the individual and species but often quite a long time. I once had the same problem–a lizard escapee indoors. When I finally caught it it had been on the loose for 46 days yet still seemed in good shape–very hungry and thirsty but basically little affected.

Charles asks…

Can an ancestor be considered an extinct species?

So if humans evolved from Homo Erectus and all other ancestors? Those ancestors evolved into different species. But if they no longer exist, but didn’t die off. Can an ancestor be considered an extinct species?

New Niche Finder answers:

You have tapped into a key problem of the word ‘species’ when comparing two living things separated by *time*, rather than *genetics*.

A genetic barrier makes a pretty clear case for when two living things can be classified as two separate *species*. It’s not always clear when that genetic barrier is “complete”. But we can recognize that when it is complete … I.e. When the two individuals belong to two thriving populations whose members cannot interbreed with each other, then we can clearly call them two ‘species’.

But when the fossil record shows a population of individuals A to be most likely ancestral to a living population of individuals B, and we have no way of even considering the question of whether members of A and B could interbreed … Then it is somewhat arbitrary whether we call them the same ‘species’ or not.

For example, what we call the Cro-magnons of central Europe (about 35,000 years ago) are not considered a separate species, but “early modern Homo sapiens.” They have noticeable differences from modern humans, (taller and more robust on average, with a slightly larger brain size), but these differences are not enough for paleontologists to classify them as a different species.

Homo erectus, on the other hand is sufficiently different that paleontologists classify it as a different species than Homo sapiens. Ditto a later species Homo heidelbergensis.

This all serves to remind us that life isn’t a tidy “A evolves into B which evolves into C” story. Species branch, and branch again. Two populations of species A can get isolated from each other for hundreds of thousands of years and each evolve very differently into species B and C … And they in turn can get split in to sub-populations D, E, and F … And all while an isolated population of the ancestral species A can continue to thrive, relatively unchanged (because its environment is stable) to co-exist with all its descendants.

(E.g. Look up Homo erectus soloensis, a subspecies of Homo erectus discovered to be living on the island of Java as recently as 50,000 years ago.)

And all of this we have to piece together from fossils found in the ground. We can consider A to be an ancestor to B for many decades until we find a new fossil that has distinct characteristics of “late A” or “early B” that indicates that the two species continued to co-exist at the same time.

It’s complicated … And really interesting.

Chris asks…

How well has the potential uses of botany been researched?

How many plants are there that we don’t know about? Think of how many species there must be and what they can do for us. How many plant species are there estimated to be that we don’t know about? What can/is being done about this? Any information on this matter would be appreciated. Thank you.
How well have****

New Niche Finder answers:

How many plants are there that we don’t know about?

Well from one to an infinite number. We cant have a clue of how many plant species have yet to be discovered.

There are actually specialist that work for pharmaceutical companies, as well as free lance botanist, that search the jungles and swamps and woods in far away places, looking for plants that may have a use in drug making or research.

Noni Plant May Yield New Drugs To Fight Tuberculosis
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001219074537.htm
Wonder Drugs Waiting in the Weeds?
Http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/05/0503_050503_weeddrugs.html

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