Thursday, March 31, 2011

Night of the Lepus II?

My idea of the only giant rabbit worth knowing:
Years ago, my mother used to say to me, she'd say "In this world, Moira, you can be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart... I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

With Easter revving up (at least in those stores where the chocolate rabbits have been on display since New Year's Eve), I was taken aback by this news item this morning. According to a report in The Scientist - Magazine of the Life Sciences:
The skeletal remains of a 26-pound rabbit was found on an island off the coast of Spain. Dubbed the Minorcan King of the Rabbits, this ancient rabbit lived approximately three to five million years ago and now adds evidence to a curious rule concerning the evolution of animals in islands. The so-called "island rule" states that big animals will get smaller and small animals (such as rabbits) will get bigger when the population is isolated on an island, perhaps due to the lack of mainland predators. In this case, the King is a whopping six-times larger than living European rabbits, but due to a rigid spine and short legs, it was also unable to hop.
Above: an artist's rendering of what a rather portly giant rabbit, called "N. Rex" by his friends, might have looked like when he roamed the island of Minorca. Note the puzzled look on the face of that crouching modern rabbit on the right. (See more about this beast at National Geographic)
Thank goodness Jimmy Stewart never had to explain the presence of N. Rex to his sister--much less to the boys down at the local bar.

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