Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Fanged Frogs and Kangaroos in Trees?

A corner of the world that seldom gets world attention is Papua New Guinea. Scientists have returned from a jungle area in Papua New Guinea breathless with excitement at a treasure trove of heretofore unheard of species that have come to the attention of science. The Guardian reports as follows.

"They found the three-kilometre wide crater populated by spectacular birds of paradise and in the absence of big cats and monkeys, which are found in the remote jungles of the Amazon and Sumatra, the main predators are giant monitor lizards while kangaroos have evolved to live in trees. New species include a camouflaged gecko, a fanged frog and a fish called the Henamo grunter, named because it makes grunting noises from its swim bladder.

"These discoveries are really significant," said Steve Backshall, a climber and naturalist who became so friendly with the never-before seen Bosavi silky cuscus, a marsupial that lives up trees and feeds on fruits and leaves, that it sat on his shoulder."

Although the land that is being explored is owned by local tribes, it remains so unexplored by humans that local species have no fear of humans. The species have bred and developed over centuries to the extent that they are separate and distinct from species that exist elsewhere. The rain forest in Papua New Guinea is reported to be destroyed at a rate of 3.5% a year, leading to fears that many species could become extinct even as they are being discovered.

An alternative to destroying jungles to make room for humans would be to look to the rain forests for medical remedies and replenishable resources that could enhance human existence. A middle road between destroying ecosystems and turning our back on development would be to tread softly, to look for renewable plant life that could enhance life without destroying the system from which it came.

Papua New Guinea also has interesting human resources. Before it was colonised by Europeans, its people spoke a multitude of languages. Colonisation and development made it necessary for its tribes to communicate with each other, and to communicate with Europeans. Pidgin English developed as a result. Pidgin is a generic term for a language composed of a few hundred words drawn from a colonising language and local languages. There are many such languages, such as Chinese Pidgin English and assorted African pidgin languages. The process also occurs in other colonising languages.

A sampling of PNG Pidgin English is as follows. It is drawn from a dictionary I found on line.

bury - planim
bus - bas, PMV
bush - bus
bush knife - busnaip
bush Pig, wild pig - welpig
businessman - man bisnis
busy - i gat wok
busy (doing something) - wok long
but - tasol
butter - bata
buttock - as
button - baten
buttress root - kil bilong diwai
buy - baim

cabbage - kabis
cake - kek
calendar - kalenda
calf of leg - baksait bilong lek

I have also included a Pidgin English translation of the story of creation with which the Scriptures begin in one of the videos with this posting.

It is a humbling thought that so much remains unknown and undiscovered on our small planet after so many generations of history and after so much technological advancement. The newly discovered species in Papua New Guinea and the intelligent manner that their design and function matches their unique environment is a reminder that the human race should tread softly in the earth of which we are citizens. With greater knowledge comes greater responsibility.

There is much to be learned from this remote corner of the world. We should learn from it in a manner that leaves it a better place

Pidgin English rendition of biblical creation story

Video of newly discovered life forms in Papua New Guinea
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