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The Green Life: Zombie Species Roundup

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February 22, 2012

Zombie Species Roundup

Shearwater zombieUpon hearing the exciting news that the Bryan's shearwater, a seabird that was announced as a new species in 2011, may not be extinct, one might be compelled to root for the little guy and its repopulation efforts (it is extremely cute). However, this got us thinking: Maybe the rediscovered seabird is not alive, but undead. Skeptical? Check out Harvard ethnobiologist Wade Davis's research on zombies in Haiti, or, if you're seeking video evidence, find a copy of just about anything ever made by George Romero.

If human zombies aren't scary enough, here are five other recently rediscovered species that may be looking for some fresh blood:



Grizzled Langur: As early as 2008, scientists at Kutai National Park in Borneo feared the worst for the grizzled langur, but last month researchers captured the undead on video plotting a widescale revenge on humankind. According to some unverified reports, the grizzled langur may also double as a wizard. Luckily — assuming you don't live in Borneo — you should be safe from these hungry, bearded monkey-monsters.


Giant tortoise

Galápagos Giant Tortoise: When Charles Darwin visited the Galápagos Islands in 1835, he found 15 different species of giant tortoise; now, only 11 are documented. So when researchers from Yale realized that they might be able to save another species from extinction, they jumped at the opportunity. However, they only found descendants of the species, no purebreds, which gives some cause for zombie-infection concern.



Black Kokanee: In 2010, a team of scientists rediscovered this species of salmon in Lake Saiko, Japan; the black kokanee was thought to have died out after its habitat was made acidic by a nearby hydroelectric plant. The prospect of a mutated Japanese-salmon zombie may sound more like a Godzilla opponent than a reality, making the black kokanee all the more terrifying.



Neonothopanus gardneri: Though N. gardneri, a type of bioluminscent mushroom, could not be said to have been extinct — "forgotten" would be a better word — it has been rediscovered in Brazil. The glowing fungus had last been seen in 1840. Now researchers at San Francisco State University have collected samples and are attempting to discover the mystery behind the mushroom's unique glow. The strange appearance of this 'shroom alone accounts for the possibility that it is, and always has been, a zombie.



Woolly Mammoth: OK, so it wasn't a woolly mammoth after all — it was just a bear eating some salmon. But always fear for the worst: All indications are that woolly mammoth zombies are far more dangerous than human zombies.

Still don't believe in zombies? We totally get it. Word is, nobody likes an alarmist. Fortunately for you, there are some fringe groups, like the Stanford philosophy department, that also are skeptics. 

—Justin Cohn

Photos from top: Bryan's shearwater by Smithsonian/Reginald David, zombie hand by iStockphoto/Bliznetsov, giant tortoise by iStockphoto/CraigRJD, bioluminescent mushrooms by Cassius V. Stevani/IQ-USP


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