specify that disgust is complex; It is the result of a combination of morphological and chromatic features that are not perceived in the same way in all branches of life. “An ugly or obnoxious bird will not necessarily have the same qualities as any mammal so judged,” she adds. However, pink or gray insects, with eyes and heads small compared to the rest of the body and infested with warts or other skin defects, have little chance of winning beauty contests.
The plant world does not escape the harsh judgment of humans. Evidenced by the comments of researchers at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew, a British organization that annually compiles an inventory of new plant species discovered on the planet. The 2020 classic featured 156 plants and mushrooms, including a beautiful bromeliad from Brazil with orange petals. but this Gastrodia agnicellus which received the most media attention. This small plant, whose brown flower resembles a suspicious hole, has been given the nickname “The ugliest lizard in the worldby the team.
ugliness free? Not so fast. By displaying the ugly duckling, botanists have shed light on the noble cause of preserving biodiversity. “Since two out of five plants are threatened with extinction, it is a race against time to find, identify, name and preserve plants before they disappear,” the statement said in a more serious note. Gastrodia agnicellus It is no exception to the rule: it occupies a small habitat in Madagascar, a country that suffers from one of the largest deforestation on Earth.
“It is true that it is easier to protect charismatic species, such as the polar bear or the panda. Plants are often also victims of underrecognition compared to animals, and some have even gone so far as to speak of a cognitive bias called “plant blindness.” In this sense, the Kew Gardens Initiative Interesting to draw attention to this plant, but also to many of the other species mentioned in the inventory, comments Simon Jolly, researcher at the Montreal Botanical Garden. To paraphrase what Senegalese forest engineer Baba Daume said, we keep what we like and we like what we know.”
So why not follow in the footsteps of Kew’s botanists and bring ugliness to the fore? This is what was proposed in 2017 Researchers from Johns Hopkins University. According to their study, with some marketing efforts, such as posting photos and details about the species’ conservation status, conservation societies can increase fundraising for animals with a burly physique tenfold. And even make new amulets for them. Shouldn’t we say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
>>> Read also: When evolution prefers stupidity, ugliness, and insignificance
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