Coronavirus disease 19 (or COVID-19) is suspected to have originated at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, in the central Chinese province of Hubei, in December 2019. Wet markets such as this – ‘wet’ because of the melting ice used to preserve goods – are where traders sell fresh meat, fish and produce. Some, however, also sell live animals, which can be slaughtered and skinned for the customer upon purchase, to demonstrate their freshness. The Huanan Seaford Wholesale Market, for example, was selling a lot more than just fish – snakes, raccoon dogs, deer, porcupines and pangolins are just a few of the wild species that were also for sale there, both dead and alive.
In the ‘Lost Forever’ series of articles, The Nature Nook will be looking at animal species that have become extinct in the past 500 years or so. Now, I should first point out that extinction is a perfectly natural process. It has always taken place throughout the history of life on Earth. Just as every individual that is born will die, every species that evolves will eventually become extinct. In fact, some 99.99% of all species that have ever lived on our planet are now extinct.
The weasel is small. Really small. Much smaller than most people realise. It is not only the smallest mustelid, it’s also the smallest carnivore in the world. Growing to between 13 and 26 cm in length and weighing as little as 25 grams in some cases – about the same as an AA battery – it is a mere 0.0025% of the weight of the planet’s biggest terrestrial carnivore, the polar bear.
Welcome to Animal World Records! In this regular feature, we’ll be looking at animals that are the fastest, biggest or smallest of their kind. Those that fly higher in the air, or live deeper in the ocean, than any other. Those with the longest tongue, or the largest eyes, or the most number of legs.