Monday, April 3, 2017

The Curse of the Labrador Duck

The Curse of the Labrador Duck is a book about the quest of Glen Chilton, who is bound to discover the genome of the Labrador duck. The Labrador duck is North America's first bird species to go extinct after the European migration in the 1800's. The last specimen was harvested in 1875 and the last Labrador duck was reportedly seen in December of 1878. Chilton runs into many problems on his quest for the genome, mainly the lack of DNA. There is only 55 specimens known left in existence, all of which are taxidermy, which leaves nothing but feathers and skin to study. He searched the globe to find other forms to study the ducks, but nothing's true. All of the eggs that were thought to be Labrador ducks turn out to be other species of duck, mostly mallard and red breasted merganser. Today no one knows much about the Labrador duck let alone the genome, without further investigation and DNA to examine, the mystery of the Labrador duck may remain a mystery forever.

This is a fascinating book that covers mystery behind a species that very little is known. With minimal specimens to look at and no quality DNA samples to study the mystery will not be resolved. Some biologists hypothesize about the duck not being its own true species, saying it is simply a cross between a Steller's eider and a common eider. This is a valid hypothesis, except that the two species have completely different ranges and are only found on opposite sides of the nation. The truth behind the Labrador duck may be never known, but it is a mystery that will capture the minds of many biologists and water fowlers alike.

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