California Grizzly Bear – It Was Very Good

California Grizzly
Monarch, preserved specimen at the California Academy of Sciences

California Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos californicus)

The California Grizzly Bear, once considered its own species Ursus horribilis, was a subspecies of the North American Brown Bear or Grizzly Bear. The California Grizzly was very closely related to the Grizzly Bears of the southern coasts of Alaska. The bear was known, and lauded, for its size, strength, and beauty. The bear shared its physiology with the Kodiak Bear, though it appears to not have had the pronounced shoulder hump those bears do.

California Grizzly

Experts estimate that the California Grizzly population was approximately 10,000 at its peak, around the 1820s and 1830s. The bears were a common sight to the Indians, the Spaniards, and the flood of Americans arriving during and after the Gold Rush. The animal was endemic to the lowlands and foothills of the state from the Sierras down to the deserts in the south. The expansion of humans into California and Grizzly habitat after the Gold Rush lead to direct competition between the two species. California newspapers of the late nineteenth century were replete with accounts of grizzlies raiding livestock and occasionally killing humans. By the end of the 1800s, the animal could only be found in the Santa Ana Mountains, the Southern Sierra Nevada, the mountains of Santa Barbara County, and the San Gabriel Mountains.

It is believed the last California Grizzly was killed in 1922 in Tulare County.

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Bushwren – It Was Very Good

Bushwren
Bushwren, John Gerrard Keulemans, 1888

Bushwren (Xenicus longipes)

They are at least as active, however, on their legs as on their wings. The hop of the bush wren is a remarkable performance. During the first salutary movement the bush wren carries himself parallel to the earth; at the termination, however, of each leap he telescopes upwards on his toes, momentarily erecting himself in the oddest way to his full height. When the two movements are blended in rapid action, what with his whitish feet, short toes and long thin legs, and tightly folded body plumage, he resembles in no small degree a barefooted bairn running on sands with tucked-up garments firmly fastened around the waist. He passes through the darkling underscrub like a forest gnome, like a woodland brownie.

~Guthrie-Smith, Bird Life on Island and Shore, 1925

The New Zealand Bushwrens were a group of nearly flightless wrens, consisting of three subspecies, endemic to the three islands that make up New Zealand. The birds were small (about 3.5 inches in length and 16 grams.) with bodies that were mostly covered in yellow feathers with dark green to purple feathers covering their faces.

Bushwren

The Bushwren was driven to extinction due to the introduction of invasive species to New Zealand. Rats, Mustelids (ferrets and martens), and felines all decimated the population which had no history of mammalian predators. The last members of the species were died in the 1970s after a failed attempt to preserve them by moving them to a small island uninhabited by the invasive species.

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Television Watched – Wrapping up 2016

TV 2016
Image by Gawker

Last year (link below) I commented on the very large amount of TV that I watched over the course of 2015. I said that I wanted to watch less TV and do more of other things or try and make TV a more social activity. I did watch less TV in 2016 and near the end of the year, I did begin watching it more socially with friends. I can’t say that the time I freed up not watching TV went towards more ‘useful’ projects though…

Stand outs for 2016? I’m upset there is no more Poirot for me to watch. House of Cards got weird. I want more Galavant. I need more cooking shows and Top Gear is very, very addictive. Clickthrough to see the list.

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Bulldog Rat – It Was Very Good

Bulldog Rat
Bulldog Rat, Charles William Andrews, 1900

Bulldog Rat (Rattus nativitatis)

The Bulldog Rat lived on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. The species was first described in 1886 when Captain Maclear of the British vessel, H.M.S. “Flying Fish,” formally surveyed the island. The island’s rat population (Two species) was described as “abundant” in 1887.

The Bulldog Rat was an average sized rat with a body length between 9 and 10 1/2 inches. The rat’s tail was relatively short for the species at about 6 1/2 inches but was very thick. Their head was relatively small, slender, and delicate.  The rats had very broad and strong claws on their thick, heavy feet. The rats were uniformly dark brown coats of fur.

The habitat, range, lifestyle, and food sources for the Bulldog Rat are largely unknown with the description of the species coming from one single survey, while educated guesses may be made from the gathered specimens much it just not known.

Bulldog Rat
Skull of Rattus nativitatis, Charles William Andrews, 1900

The Bulldog Rat went extinct due to epidemic disease or diseases. In 1901 when a Scientist visited the island he was unable to collect or find a single specimen even after offering cash rewards for one from the island’s human population. The disease or diseases responsible for the death of the Bulldog Rat were probably transmitted by the common Black Rat that was inadvertently introduced to Christmas Island in 1899.

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