Sun, May 13, 2007 - Page 14 News List

The one and only 碩果僅存的烏龜?

Lonesome George.
孤單喬治的照片。(照片︰法新社)

PHOTO: AFP

The Galapagos tortoise known as Lonesome George may lose his ranking as the world's rarest living creature now that scientists have discovered he has a distant cousin.

George, who has stubbornly refused to mate with the female tortoises from a related subspecies placed in his pen, has been considered the last of his kind since his discovery in 1971.

His wrinkled face became a symbol of how human activity leads to extinction, and the meter-wide, 88kg tortoise has long held the Guinness Book of World Records title of "rarest living creature."

Three of the 14 species of Galapagos tortoises have become extinct because of hunting and competition for food from goats introduced in the 1950's.

The loss of George — the first tortoise found on the island of Pinta since 1906 — would have brought that number to four.

"Even after 35 years, Lonesome George seems uninterested in passing on his unique genes and has failed to produce offspring," said lead author Michael Russello of the University of British Columbia Okanagan who began working with the tortoises as a postdoctoral fellow at Yale.

"The continuing saga surrounding the search for a mate has positioned Lonesome George as a potent conservation icon, not just for Galapagos, but worldwide."

Researchers now hope that another tortoise from George's subspecies —Geochelone abingdoni — may be living on the neighboring Galapagos island of Isabela.

A multinational team headed by researchers at Yale has identified a tortoise which has half his genes in common with George and is "clearly a first generation hybrid between the native tortoises from the islands of Isabela and Pinta."

They hope that with further testing they will be able to find a genetically pure Pinta tortoise among the 2,000 tortoises living on Isabela and start a breeding program.(AFP)

TODAY'S WORDS 今日單字

1. stubbornly adv.

固執地 (gu4 zhi2 di5)

例: Adon stubbornly refused to get up and make breakfast.

(亞登頑固地拒絕起床做早餐。)

2. extinction n.

絕種 (jue2 zhong3)

例: Taiwan's clouded leopard has been hunted to the point of extinction.

(台灣雲豹因人類獵捕而瀕臨絕種。)

3. offspring n.

後裔 (hou4 yi4),子嗣 (zi3 si4)

例: The mother duck herded her offspring onto the water.

(母鴨把小鴨們趕入水中。)

4. potent adj.

具繁殖力的 (ju4 fan2 zhi2 li4 de5),強有力的 (qiang2 you3 li4 de5)

例: He presented a potent argument in favor of the merger.

(他提出支持公司合併的強有力論點。)


「孤單喬治」加拉巴哥象龜可能會喪失世界最珍稀生物的封號,因為科學家發現他有個遠親表兄弟。

拒絕與送上門來的近親亞種母龜交配的頑固喬治,自一九七一年被人發現以來,就被視為是此種龜類碩果僅存的一隻。

牠滿佈皺紋的臉蛋已成為人類活動導致生物滅種的象徵。這隻寬一公尺、體重八十八公斤的烏龜長期以來也穩坐金氏世界紀錄的「稀世之珍」王座。

由於人類獵捕及與一九五○年代所引進的山羊爭食,十四種加拉巴哥象龜中的三種已絕種。

若失去喬治,也就是一九○六年後在平塔島所發現的第一隻陸龜,就有第四種加拉巴哥象龜絕種了。

不列顛哥倫比亞大學歐堪納甘校區的主筆者麥可.羅薩洛說︰「即便過了三十五年,孤單喬治還是對自己稀有物種的傳宗接代不感興趣,無法生育。」羅薩洛在耶魯大學攻讀博士後研究時就開始研究這類烏龜。

「持續尋找配偶的冒險故事,已讓孤單喬治成為有力的保育象徵,不僅是對加拉巴哥象龜而言,也是全球性的。」

研究人員目前期盼,喬治的遠親另一種亞種烏龜「巨型象龜」,是住在附近加拉帕哥群島中的伊莎貝拉島。

耶魯大學研究員領導的跨國團隊已經發現有隻陸龜與喬治的一半基因相同,「顯然是伊莎貝拉島與平塔島原生陸龜的第一代混種」。

研究人員希望透過進一步檢驗,能在伊莎貝拉島兩千種烏龜身上發現基因純種的平塔島烏龜,以展開生育計畫。

(法新社/翻譯︰賴美君)

SAY WHAT? 說說看

lonesome 孤單

Saying that someone is alone means that there is no one else with them. Saying someone is lonely adds an element of wanting, but not having, company. For example: "Maybe you should go and play with your friend. She looks awfully lonely out there in the garden." Lonesome emphasizes the sense of sadness and yearning. For example: "He often feels lonesome when his wife is away on business."

說某人「alone」意指落單。說某人「lonely」是希望有伴卻沒伴。例如︰「也許你應該出去跟朋友玩。她在花園裡看起來相當寂寞」。「lonesome」則強調了憂傷與渴望的心情。例如︰「他太太出差時,他往往感到孤單」。

OUT LOUD 對話練習

Dan: Man! I can't find my other sock! Where is it? Why is nothing ever where I thought it was? It's so unfair!

Adam: Hey, chill out! It's only a sock. Why are you in such a funk today?

Dan: I'm not in a funk! I'm just feeling a bit ... a bit ... lost.

Adam: You're missing your girlfriend, aren't you?

Dan: Well, maybe a little bit. Okay. Yes, I am missing her. I guess that's why I'm getting upset over little things. I'm sorry.

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