The nautilus is also a living fossil. Animals extremely similar to today's nautiluses can be found as far as 500 million years back into the fossil record. That means they saw the dinosaurs come and go without missing a beat — but overfishing and disappearing niches may put an end to that long history. "As it stands now, nautilus mining could cause nautiluses to go extinct," Ward said. He isn't optimistic about upcoming talks to classify the nautilus as a protected animal, either. But nautiluses didn't survive two mass extinctions and half a billion years of sharp-toothed competition by being pushovers.Gets two major points exactly right, points that science writers nearly always fuck up. (1) If a creature has lasted through many changes of climate and chemistry, it's going to continue. The fact that it's still here tells us that it's adaptable. (2) Overfishing and overhunting are the actual causes of extinction. We may crowd out subpopulations with urban sprawl, but that doesn't have a long-term effect on the whole species because the critters can usually move elsewhere. If we shoot or net a critical mass, they can't move elsewhere.
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.