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Adriaen van de Venne via Wikimedia // Public Domain
Adriaen van de Venne via Wikimedia // Public Domain

A Rare Dodo Skeleton Is Coming Up for Auction

Adriaen van de Venne via Wikimedia // Public Domain
Adriaen van de Venne via Wikimedia // Public Domain

Here’s your chance to own an unusually rare specimen—and a symbol of humanity’s devastation upon the natural world. The Associated Press reports that Summers Place Auctions in Sussex, England, will auction off a composite skeleton of a dodo this November. According to the Independent, few remains of the hapless, flightless bird—once native to the Indian Island of Mauritius—exist today, and the last time a dodo skeleton came up for auction was more than a hundred years ago.

This composite skeleton is 95% complete, according to the BBC, missing only a part of its skull and one set of claws. (The missing pieces have been cast in resin and added to the skeleton, says the Daily Mail.) It took the unnamed collector who assembled the skeleton about 40 years to make his creation, Gizmodo says; he used bits and pieces of bone from private collections and other auctions, most originally taken from the Mare aux Songes swamp in southeastern Mauritius.

Europeans discovered the dodo in 1598 and drove the birds to extinction less than a hundred years later—perhaps partly due to hunting, but in larger measure to the dogs, cats, rats, and other animals Europeans introduced to the area. Today, there’s only one dodo skeleton in the world that’s made up of the bones of a single animal—it’s on display in Port Louis, Mauritius. The country has since banned exports of the bones. In part because so few complete specimens of the bird exist, little is understood about its evolutionary history, although recent DNA research has shown it is related to pigeons.

The auction will take place November 22, although Summers Place says the deadline for entries is September 30. The skeleton is expected to fetch six figures.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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Martin Wittfooth
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Art
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig
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Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images
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Animals
How a Pregnant Rhino Named Victoria Could Save an Entire Subspecies
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images

The last male northern white rhino died at a conservancy in Kenya earlier this year, prompting fears that the subspecies was finally done for after decades of heavy poaching. Scientists say there's still hope, though, and they're banking on a pregnant rhino named Victoria at the San Diego Zoo, according to the Associated Press.

Victoria is actually a southern white rhino, but the two subspecies are related. Only two northern white rhinos survive, but neither of the females in Kenya are able to reproduce. Victoria was successfully impregnated through artificial insemination, and if she successfully carries her calf to term in 16 to 18 months, scientists say she might be able to serve as a surrogate mother and propagate the northern white rhino species.

But how would that work if no male northern rhinos survive? As the AP explains, scientists are working to recreate northern white rhino embryos using genetic technology. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has the frozen cell lines of 12 different northern white rhinos, which can be transformed into stem cells—and ultimately, sperm and eggs. The sperm of the last northern white male rhino, Sudan, was also saved before he died.

Scientists have been monitoring six female southern white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo to see if any emerge as likely candidates for surrogacy. However, it's not easy to artificially inseminate a rhino, and there have been few successful births in the past. There's still a fighting chance, though, and scientists ultimately hope they'll be able to build up a herd of five to 15 northern white rhinos over the next few decades.

[h/t Time Magazine]

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