Magazine article Natural History

Letters to the Editor

Magazine article Natural History

Letters to the Editor

Article excerpt

Biodiversity in the Balance

Thank you for Niles Eldredge's "Life in the Balance" June 1998). I was very much impressed by the lucidity and breadth of Eldredge's presentation. But why must we resort to the "pharmaceuticals-out-ofplants argument" to justify preserving biodiversity? What more exploitative and homocentric argument could there be?

John Simms

via E-mail

Neglected Giants

My husband and I were shocked that your article on Midwestern megasculptures ("This Land," April 1998) failed to mention Salem Sue, the world's biggest Holstein.

Not to milk the story for more than it's worth, but I would advise anyone visiting the Upper Midwest to hoof it to New Salem, North Dakota, to gaze upon this magnificent fiberglass structure.

Anne S. McNulty

Cheshire, Connecticut

You missed the giant strawberry in Strawberry Point, Iowa, and the two renditions of Paul Bunyan and Babe in Bemidji and Brainerd, Minnesota.

Shelley Steva

Thief River Falls, Minnesota

Uncertain Beginnings

Pointing out how hard it is to define the beginning of a human life, George C. Williams notes (in "Life and Death Fallacies," May 1998) that after the conception of fraternal twins, the eggs may fuse to form a chimera-a single organism made up of portions of both fertilized ova.

Indeed, the ultimate identity of any fertilized egg is at first indefinite. From fertilization through day fourteen, the conceptus-a trophoblast and the few cells composing the embryoblastis termed a pre-embryo. A pre-embryo may develop into an embryo proper, an ectopic or a molar pregnancy, a choriocarcinoma, twins or more, a chimera, or-as happens because of genetic defects in at least two-thirds of cases-nothing at all.

Frank Sturtevant

Sarasota, Florida

Fish Out of Water

We enjoyed seeing and reading May's "Natural Moment" on mudskippers. …

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