Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dissapearing Act... The Rhino

Saw a sad article today: that Africa's Western Black Rhino has been declared extinct.  It hurts for two reasons, the first being I have always loved rhino's, they are such an amazing unique creature.  The second being that this was another reminder that animals species are going extinct everyday.  Many of the larger species get noticed when they are on the decline simply due to their size, but species of all sizes are going extinct daily.  I'm not writing this to depress you but more as a call to action.  I'm including another link to a list of some species we have lost in the past 40 years and ways to prevent more species from disappearing forever:

Now, for your weekly dose of animal facts.  Rhino's have a human cause for their decline, they are hunted for their horns.  Some cultures believe their horns have medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.  To cut down on poaching in many areas rhinos have had their horns removed.  A rhino's horn consists of keratin only and do not have a bony core like cows horns.  Keratin makes up the outer layer of our skin, our hair, and nails.  The only other biological matter known to come close to the toughness of keratinized tissue is chitin which is found in tree trunks.  Understanding keratin structure could make a great biological marker because keratin expression is helpful in determining epithelial origin (where the cancer started) in anaplastic cancers.  Tumors that express keratin include carcinomas, thymomas, sarcomas, and trophoblastic neoplasms.  Who knew rhino horn could be a clue to diagnosing and finding cancer? 

That's all for now,

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