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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of


CURWOOD: One hundred and twenty-five years ago the German zoologist Ernst Heckel coined the word "ecology" to describe the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has become just one of the many dry, scientific words we use to describe the natural world. There are more colorful words, of course, some more scientific than others. Here are a few phrases that have crossed our desk recently. The "hopeful monster;" no, they're not referring to Frankenstein on Prozac. A hopeful monster is a scientific term describing a mutation that is of no benefit to an individual but may benefit its descendants. "Charismatic megafauna." That's a phrase used by environmental activists to describe the large animals that strike a friendly chord with the general public. That's why you see bear cubs on wall calendars and not the more threatened Krechmar cave mold beetle.



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