Listen to part of a lecture in a biology class.
Most of them are green. It has four legs. It can jump and swim. It both can live in water and land. It eats bugs.
It's a type of bear. It lives in the Poles. It has white fur.
They have long necks. They are quite big. They eat plants. Most of them live in Africa.
They have shell on their back. Their skin color is green. They have four legs. And they walk very slow. And can both live in water and land.
They have black and white fur. They eat bamboo. They live in China.
This kind of animal has two lumps on is back. They live in desert. People ride them like horses in desert.
It's a type of bird. It has white feathers a long neck. It's quite big comparing to a bird. And it can swim.
Most of them have black fur. They can swing on trees. They live on trees. It said that they got smarter and evolved to people.
It has four legs. It is very cute so some people have them as pets. They eat fishes and mice.
It has four legs. A lot of people have them as pets. If it likes you it licks you. And if it gets mad or get badly treated it will bite you. And it has a lot of breeds.
As Italy struggles to deal with burgeoning populations of an introduced giant rodent, a mayor has come up with a novel solution – eat them.
Now, James, you said you had been to the State of Maine, right?
Yeah, actually I lived in western Maine until I was about sixteen.
Coypu were introduced to Italy a century ago from their native South America to be farmed for their fur.
Great. So why don't you tell everybody what is like there in the winter?
The winter? Well, it's cold. And there's lots of snow, you wouldn't believe how much snow we used to get.
But many escaped or were deliberately released after wearing fur fell out of fashion and the species is now thriving.
Actually I would. I did field research up there a couple of winters.
And it really is an incredible environment.
They have fared particularly well in the flatlands of the Po valley in northern Italy, where farmers complain that they devour crops and destroy levees and embankments by digging burrows.
And to survive in that sort of environment, animals have to adapt, to evolve in response to their surroundings.
As you recall, an adaptation is any feature, Um... physical or behavioral feature of a species that helps it survive and reproduce.
Michele Marchi, the mayor of the town of Gerre de’ Caprioli, has suggested that numbers could be reduced if only Italians can develop a taste for coypu meat. He has tried it and says it tastes a bit like rabbit.
And in adapting to extreme climates, like Maine in the winter time, animals can evolve in pretty interesting ways.
Take, for example, the snowshoe hare. OK, the snowshoe hare, and of course, that's H-A-R-E, like a rabbit.
His proposal, launched on his Facebook page, has caused a lively social media debate, with some people in favour of the idea and others revolted by the prospect of tucking it what looks like a cross-between a beaver and a large rat.
Although I probably should mention that technically a hare is not exactly the same as a rabbit, even though it is very similar.
The primary difference is that a rabbit's young are born blind and without fur, while a hare's babies are born with a full coat and able to see.
“The debate about coypu has become bonkers, without coming to any resolution of the problem,” the 31-year-old mayor wrote.
Now, the snowshoe hare, tell me, what's sort of adaptations do you think it has developed that help it survive the Maine winters?
I'll give you a hint. Food isn't an issue. The hare actually has abundant food in the small twigs it finds.
“Here’s my idea – let’s start eating them in restaurants and at village food festivals.”
Well, I don't know. I mean, I know we used to try to look for these rabbits, Eh... hares, ...
... when we went hiking in the winter , but it was often hard to find them in the snow.
However unpalatable the idea, he insisted that he was not joking and said there were regions of Italy that were already warming to the idea of tucking into roast, broiled or braised coypu.
Yes. That's exactly right. The major concern of the snowshoe hare in the winter is predators.
And now that includes humans. So one of its adaptations is basically camouflage.
The mayor said he was speaking from practical experience, having eaten coypu meat. “It’s almost better than rabbit,” he said.
(n. 伪装，掩饰 vt. 伪装，掩饰)
In other words, its coat, its fur, turns from brown in the summer to white in the winter, ...
One enthusiastic backer of the idea wrote on social media: “Coypus are very clean animals and they are herbivores. I’ve tried them a few times. They should be cooked in a stew with onions or baked in the oven. I agree with the mayor – it’s better than rabbit.”
... which makes it harder for the hare's predators to see it against the white snow.
Yeah, but I could swear I remembered seeing rabbits in the snow a couple of times, I means hares, that were brown.
Animal lovers were less enamoured of the idea. “Here’s another genius who thinks he can resolve a problem by killing defenseless animals. And they elected him mayor,” wrote one critic.
Well, you may very well have. Timing is really important, but the snowshoe hare doesn't always get it exactly right.
Its chances for survival are best if it turns white about the time of the first snowfall.
Coypu breed prolifically, with a female capable of giving birth to up to a dozen young at a time.
And it's the amount of daylight that triggers the changing of the hare's coat.
As the days get shorter, that is, as the Sun is up for a shorter and shorter time each day, ...
No one knows how many coypu there are living wild in Italy.
... the snowshoe hare starts growing white fur and shedding its brown fur.
The hare does a pretty good job with its timing, but sometimes when there's a really early or late snow, it stands out.
In the region of Emilia-Romagna alone there are believed to be around one million, while Lombardy has a population of around 1.3 million, with the regional government calling for 300,000 to be culled each year.
Plus, it takes about a month for the snowshoe hare's coat to completely change color.
So if there's a particularly early snowfall, it's very likely that the hare's fur would not yet be totally white.
In their native range they are eaten by alligators, large snakes and eagles.
And that would make this a particularly dangerous time for the hare. OK. What else? Other adaptations? Susan?
Well, it's called the snowshoe hare, so are its feet somehow protect it from the cold?
A lack of such predators in Europe has contributed to their rapid population growth.
Well, this animal's name does have to do with an adaptation of its feet.
Uh... though, not like it has warm furry boots or something to keep its feet from getting cold.
They have also colonised part of the United States, with 18 states reporting significant coypu populations.
You've probably never needed to wear snowshoes.
But, well, snowshoes are not like thick furry shoes designed to keep the feet warm, they are actually quite thin, but very wide.
There, too, is a debate over eating them. In Louisiana, where they have thrived in swamps and wetlands, the state’s wildlife and fisheries department suggests a range of recipes, from coypu fettucini and soup to coypu a l’orange.
What they do is spread out the weight of the foot coming down on the snow.
See, the problem with walking on snow is that you sink in with every step.
But with snowshoes, you don't sink in, you walk on top of the snow.
It makes walking through the Maine countryside in the winter much easier .
Anyway, the snowshoe hare has an adaptation that plays on the same idea.
It has hind feet that act like snowshoes.
I mean, its paws are wide and they allow the hare to hop and run just at the surface of deep snow.
And this is a huge advantage for the snowshoe hare since by contrast, the feet of its predators usually sink right down into the snow.
Now, another advantage related to this is that unlike many animals in winter, snowshoe hares can stay lean and light weight.
They accumulate essentially no body fat. Can anyone guess why this is so?
They don't eat very much? —Well, yes. But not because there isn't enough food around.
It's because, like I said, food is almost always within reach, and they don't have to store up a lot of food energy for the harsh winters.