O-Bits: Endangered Species Edition

Which went last—the chicken or the egg? Big Mama might know the answer. That’s because Big Mama, a 16-year-old bird adopted by the Sword  family of College Point, Texas, has gone to that big free range in the sky. Yes, Big Mama is dead. But she remains in the heart of those who remember her, and the readers of the Eagle, the local paper where the Swords placed Big Mama’s obituary, and the thousands who have read her obituary, since it went viral. “Not many chickens deserve an obituary,” their memorial begins. but Big Mama became part of the family, even appearing on their Christmas Card last year. She died, peacefully, in her favorite part of the coop, according to KPRC-TV.

OK—this might not be about death, per se, but it’s about regeneration, which, while not death, exactly, is death adjacent. Something needs to die before ie can be regenerated, right? And it’s pretty damned cool.  Can we get a judge’s ruling? (After looking at the replay, it qualifies!) Did you know that the Mexican axolotl, an endangered salamander, can regenerate body parts better than any vertebrae on earth. Pretty cool, huh? Even cooler, scientists at Northeastern University have sequenced its genome. And a mighty big genome it is; ten times as big as one of our (now sadly puny-looking) genome. This is a big deal—the end game is to figure out why those axolotl can regenerate and hopefully mimic it in humans. (On the other hand, if regeneration is so damned great, why are they endangered?) Of course, it’s possible that some humans already have spliced some salamander genome into their own…and won’t they be pissed when they find out it’s from Mexico

Finally, a New Jersey man appears to have tanned himself to death. According to the New York Post, a 27-year-old man was found in a tanning bed at a Crunch Fitness in Hamilton, NJ. Official say no foul play is suspected. the paper says the young man’s passions were music, going to the gym, and cooking. If he was found wearing ear-pods, we’re guessing he found a way to combine all three…

Steven Mirkin

Steven Mirkin’s diverse career has taken him from politics to pop culture to high art, offering him a front row seat to some of the most fascinating events and personalities of our time: writing speeches, fundraising appeals and campaign materials for Ed Koch, John Heinz and independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson; chronicling the punk/new wave scenes in New York and London; interviewing musicians such as Elton John, John Lydon and Buck Owens; profiling modern masters Julian Schnabel, Paul Schrader and Jonathan Safran Foer; and writing for TV shows including 21, The Chamber, Let's Make A Deal, and Rock Star: INXS.

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