Lost & Found News: Galaxies, Whale Dung, Unicorns, & Wild Horses

Unicorns Existed

Lost:  Carl Sagan’s Billions; Earth’s Little Blue Orb

Found:  The Universe Has Two Trillion Galaxies

Back in the 1980’s, Carl Sagan captured the publics imagination with his talk of the Universe’s Billions.  Now, based on images collected over 20 years by the Hubble Space Telescope and the use of 3D imagining, Christopher Conselice of the University of Nottingham and his team have expanded the universe’s estimated galaxies to — 2 trillion.  Sadly, current technology only allows us to “observe” 10% of that or about 200 billion.

Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (2012) each light speck is a galaxy.
Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (2012) each light speck is a galaxy.

Universe has 2 trillion galaxies, astronomers say:

“A galaxy is a system of millions or billions of stars, held together by gravity, with planetary systems within them. Using new mathematical models, the astronomers were able to infer the number of “invisible” galaxies beyond the reach of telescopes, leading to the surprising realization that the vast majority are too faint and far away to be seen.”

It would seem Earth is a mere atom in the speck of the universe’s eye, yet we Earthlings are surprisingly un-humbled …


Lost:  Whales As Expendable Seafood Competitor;  Human Seafood Eaters’ Appitite

Found:  Whale Dung Feeds Bottom of Seafood Chain

Whether in plumes of pink or greeny-gray, whale feces made a splash at the International Whaling Commission where conservationists hoped to turn the tide on whaling by showcasing whales function as “ecologically essential geo-engineers” and whale poop as generators of “swimming rain forests.”whales-tail

Whales’ dung is the real reason we need to stop hunting them:

“Research is revealing that whale dung brings nutrients [nitrogen and iron] to the surface waters, which generates food for more fish by stimulating the growth of phytoplankton, the tiny organisms that are eaten by krill. These then become prey for fish. Phytoplankton also suck carbon dioxide out of the air, helping to limit global warming.”

Of course, human’s waste is also a part of the sea’s food chain. Only plastics and chemicals aren’t “ecologically essential”…


Lost:  Unicorn Wings and Faire Dust

Found:  Unicorns Existed; They Lived In The Time Of Man

Unicorns Existed
(Siberian Unicorn image attribution: Apokryltaros at English Wikipedia)

Unicorns existed.

The Elasmotherium sibiricum, “Siberian unicorn,” looked more like a 8,000 lb. hairy rhino with a single giant horn than it did a horse.  Still, you can see where the mythology began. They roamed the earth during the Ice Age.

Unicorns are now extinct.

Yes, Unicorns Were Real and There are Fossils to Prove it:

“a well-preserved fossilized skull was recently found in Kazakhstan which proved the creatures were still roaming the Earth some 29,000 years ago.  That means they were alive the same time humans were on Earth…

The team behind the discovery hopes their findings will help them understand what environmental factors played a part in the eventual extinction of the unicorn.”

Hint: If unicorns lived in the time of man and became extinct in the time of man, and neither wings nor faire dust have yet to be found — researchers may already have a clue as to who had a hand in their extinction.  (See “wild horses” below)…


Lost:   Government Conservatorship; “Free-roaming”; “Natural Ecological Balance”; Livestock’s Grazing Costs

Found:  Wild Horses Deemed A Government Expendable

Due to slaughtering for food, feed and fertilizer, the population of wild horses and burros in the US went from millions in the late 1800’s to 17,000 in 1970.  In 1971, Congress tasked the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to ensure “wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death and to be considered “an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”

Wild Horses
Wild Horses on Steen Mountain (BLM cc2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

And yet, after more than 40 years, there are approximately 46,000 captured “wild” horses and burros being held in off-range corrals, pastures, and sancutuaries which lead to:

… the recommendation made by the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board on September 9, 2016, to sell without limitation or humanely euthanize excess horses and burros in BLM’s off-range corrals and pastures that are deemed “unadoptable.”  

* Note: “Sell without limitation” means selling to slaughterhouses or to “kill buyers” is acceptable.  “Unadoptable” is defined as “animals that are either more than 10 years old or have been passed over for adoption at least three times.”

How did wild horses and burros get to be so expendable?

It was the part were congress said — “in keeping with the multiple-use management concept for the public lands” that cemented in place the range war between free-roaming wild horse and free-loading livestock ranchers.

In keeping with its historical allocation, in 2015 the Bureau of Land Management deemed the “natural ecological balance” between livestock and wild horses on public land grazing to be 37:1 or…

12.5 million AUM (animal unit month) for privately owned livestock (cattle, sheep, etc.)  — VS —  324,000 AUM for wild horses and burrors (the equavalent of only 27,000 animals)

How does this effect the tax payer?

From Congressional Research Service 2012 report on Grazing Fees:

“…a 2002 study by the Center for Biological Diversity estimated the federal cost of an array of BLM [Bureau of Land Management], FS [Forest Service], and other agency programs that benefit grazing or compensate for impacts of grazing at roughly $500 million annually. Together with the nonfederal cost, the total cost of livestock grazing could be as high as $1 billion annually, according to the study…”

Does that sound like “A sustainable path for the benefit of the animals, the land and U.S. taxpayers“?


What “Lost & Found News” have you seen lately?




  1. What makes me sad about the two trillion galaxies is that as the universe expands, the number of galaxies in the observable universe steadily falls. The event horizon of the universe is steadily diminishing.


    1. Steve — Thanks for stopping by! True. It is hard not to wonder what we have missed or will never see. But it is a core feature of an amazing system that we have no control over. That is mighty humbling to me.


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