Thursday, March 24, 2005

I came across an interesting article (at least to me) on the molluscs (clams, snails, etc) of the lower Mesopotamian wetlands. This scientific paper was derived from unpublished material from a 1980 expedition just prior to the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War, when the area was in much better shape. There are quiet a few photos of various gastropods and bivalves as well as some very nice photos at the end of the paper of the houses of the Marsh Arabs.

On another note I've been reading about animals that once lived in Iraq but have now become extinct.

Until relatively recently the Ostrich roamed around southern Iraq and was hunted by the bedouin. In the ruins of Ur near Nasiriyah many Ostrich egg artifacts have been found. The Ostrich is one of a number of large animals that became extinct in Iraq in relatively recent times. Both the Lion and the Tiger were found in Iraq in ancient times. Images and statues of Lions are all over the archeological sites of Iraq. At Babylon there is a famous basalt statue of a man being mauled by a lion. The last Iraqi lion reported killed was in 1918 on the lower Tigris. In 1914 a Turkish governor killed two near Mosul. Also near Mosul at Caspian Tiger was killed in 1887. Another large animal, the Onager or Wild Ass was found in large herds in the southern desert. As with the Ostrich the advent of firearms probably led to their disappearance.

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