1 – Why should we care if species become extinct?


It’s a reasonable question.

There’s a little guy that lives in one of the driest places on Earth – the Namibian Desert in south-west Africa. The place may be dry but even a little fellow needs water. So where is he to get it? Where indeed? 

A thin fog, so weak that we humans cannot see it, drifts in from the Atlantic Ocean. There are prospects in that. It may not be much – but water is water. So this little guy, a beetle, looked at the problem a long time ago and came up with an intriguing method of capturing from this fog the little amount of water he needs. 

To do this he stands in the path of the fog with his back towards it. The word ‘stands’ is not exactly correct. He stands almost on his head so that the greatest amount of his back faces into the fog. The drifting fog condenses on numerous bumps on his back to form tiny droplets of water. These droplets are channeled down his back and into his mouth.

We can only speculate on how such a process of water catchment evolved. It must have taken thousands of years of trial and error by this Namibian Fog Beetle. We can only stand in astonishment at what these beetles have achieved. For just this wonderment alone they should have a place in our hearts.

Scientific studies of the behaviour of these beetles has resulted in the production of fog nets covered in thousands of glass beads that can be used to capture water from fog.

So even a tiny insect like this can be of direct benefit to us. We would be wise, therefore, to take care that NO species becomes extinct. We simply don’t know the potential value to us of ANY species into the future.

Three cheers for Namibian Fog Beetles!

(More on species extinction to follow.)



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