Famous Quotes & Sayings

Stephen J. O'Brien Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 8 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Stephen J. O'Brien.

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Famous Quotes By Stephen J. O'Brien

Stephen J. O'Brien Quotes 1040262

The evidence of cheetah genetic monotony would only grow. Bob Wayne, a talented postdoctoral fellow in our lab, examined cranial measurements and the bilateral symmetry of cheetah skulls. Although no one is certain why, in most livestock, asymmetry in skeletal characteristics (the difference between right and left measures of a trait) increases with inbreeding. Bob measured sixteen bilateral traits in thirty-three cheetah skulls held in natural history museums in Washington, Chicago, and New York. The study was not perfect because several of the skulls were incomplete due to a bullet hole in the skull. Nonetheless, in nearly every case, cheetah skulls were more asymmetric compared to the skulls of leopards, ocelots, or margays. When I explained these skull results in a television interview, the correspondent asked, "Dr. O'Brien, are you telling me that these cheetahs are lopsided?" Not exactly, but the cheetahs certainly looked very inbred. — Stephen J. O'Brien

Stephen J. O'Brien Quotes 103101

Taxonomy, also called systematics, is the science-based hierarchical classification of the world's species. The area had traditionally been an obscure academic discipline dominated by erudite and professional dons who would memorize and interpret thousands of Latin species names. Advances seldom made the newspapers and caustic disputes lingered in the dust scientific literature for generations. That academic innocence would be lost forever when precise taxonomic recognition of species and subspecies came to be the basis for protection under the Endangered Species Act. — Stephen J. O'Brien

Stephen J. O'Brien Quotes 1446077

Field biologists studying large and charismatic animals wanted to know if their own species had genetic problems. I listened carefully to stories of koalas in Australia, giant pandas in China, black-footed ferrets in the Midwest, elephants, rhinos, and leopards in Africa, and orangutans in Asia--all threatened or endangered species attended by packs of worried field biologists. If cheetahs paid a price for their brush with extinction, did these species suffer the same? — Stephen J. O'Brien

Stephen J. O'Brien Quotes 1726061

Left alone, the Florida panther would be remembered as a textbook exercise on how to go extinct while your abundant and vociferous advocates argue about the process. — Stephen J. O'Brien

Stephen J. O'Brien Quotes 414895

The cause of these great extinctions, the most extensive in the seventy-million-year record for mammals, is a mystery. The two prevailing guesses, climatic environmental pressure or the destruction caused by human immigration in these regions, are at a stalemate. Nearly all regions of extinction were briefly inhabited by early humans, which is why some feel they played roles. I was not there at the time, so I can only speculate, but surely a global catastrophe of some sort triggered the cataclysm. — Stephen J. O'Brien

Stephen J. O'Brien Quotes 645165

Over the past sixty years a rather impressive assembly of respectable taxonomists and evolutionary biologists have tried to unseat the biological species concept for a wide variety of reasons. Most of them failed, probably because Ernst Mayr is alive, adroit, and articulate at ninety-six years young as I write these words, and most critics are no match for him. — Stephen J. O'Brien

Stephen J. O'Brien Quotes 1354757

Within a few months Mitch Bush, head veterinarian at the National Zoo, and David Wildt, a young reproductive physiologist working as a postdoctoral fellow in my laboratory at the National Cancer Institute, were on a plane bound for South Africa. Bush is a towering, bearded, giant of a man with a strong interest and acumen in exotic animal veterinary medicine, particularly the rapidly improving field of anesthetic pharmacology. Wildt is a slight and modest Midwestern farm boy, schooled in the reproductive physiology of barnyard animals. His boyish charm and polite shy demeanor mask a piercing curiosity and deep knowledge of all things reproductive. Bush and Wildt's expedition to the DeWildt cheetah breeding center outside Pretoria would ultimately change the way the conservation community viewed cheetahs forever. — Stephen J. O'Brien

Stephen J. O'Brien Quotes 1921040

It seems a shame that less than 1 percent of all the species that ever lived survive today and that only about 5 percent of the sum of the world's living species have names. Yet, our preservation efforts must be built on a solid foundation: an ordered taxonomy of living species. So we are forced to do as politicians do--compromise and move forward--often before all the required data are at hand. Every good scientist I know finds such an exercise counterintuitive, difficult, and sometimes impossible. But the really good ones try anyway. — Stephen J. O'Brien