Year 2020 ... Twenty Twenty. We’ve made it to the two thousand years, plus 20, since our evolution and now homo sapiens are in what we call the 21st century.

We are 20 years, 20%, into this century, and all is good. Mankind has solved the matter of getting along peacefully with others of his species regardless of minor physical appearance differences. War is a forgotten instrument. And we have learned to live with respect for and care for Planet Earth.

The following was originally printed in the Jan. 7, 1990, Jackson Hole News:

“Birds living, oh, 130 million years ago and earlier had teeth. Their fossils had teeth, which is sufficient evidence. Modern birds don’t have teeth. Do they?

“Well, the egg tooth. This is a horny tubercle near the tip of the upper mandible of a newly hatched bird. It reaches its greatest size just before the bird hatches, and is used to ‘pip’ and break apart the egg shell. This ‘tooth’ is soon lost in most species, possibly reabsorbed without directly falling off. Pretty nifty arrangement. There’s even a special hatching muscle.

“And it turns out that modern chickens retain some of the genetic material which is required to develop real teeth. Teeth are, according to the dictionary, ‘hard, bony appendages that are borne in the jaw or, in many of the lower vertebrates, on other bones in the walls of the mouth or the pharynx.’ Teeth result from the conjunction of cells from two entirely different cell layers. One cell layer forms the interior tooth structure while the other creates the enamel layer.

“Cells responsible for enamel were taken from 5-day-old chicken embryos and grafted to interior structure cells taken from molar buds of mouse embryos, then these grafts were implanted in experimental mice. (There is no end to what people do to animals.) In at least some of these mice, complete teeth resulted with the enamel layer having been provided by chicken cells.

“Not only that, these particular teeth did not exhibit the cusp pattern of mouse molars. No, these teeth were rather reptilian.

“But of course.”

Field notes: Thursday, a group of about 24 sharp tail grouse flying rapidly over hill north of Kelly Warm springs were seen by Susan Marsh and Frances Clark. Bernie McHugh found a dipper on Fish Creek, just north of the Highway 22 bridge.

The following day, several groups of splashing Barrow’s goldeneye were seen from the dike north of Emily’s Pond by Kay Modi and Frances Clark. Then on Saturday Dick and Nancy Collister reported unusual winter visitors: five black-headed grosbeaks at their feeder.

Mark your calendar for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. The Jackson Hole Bird and Nature Club will host Franz Camenzind, who will share his perspectives on the rapid loss of natural values in an increasing landscape of mechanized “recreational” experiences in “A Very Special Evening with Franz Camenzind.”

For almost 50 years, Franz — a biologist, writer and cinematographer — has been one of Jackson Hole’s and the Greater Yellowstone’s leading advocates for wildlife and wilderness. He is a prolific conservation writer, respected researcher and award-winning wildlife cinematographer. He was the first person to film giant pandas in the wilds of China.

Franz has also produced films featuring wolves, grizzly bears, black rhinos and pronghorn. He was executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance for 13 years, establishing it as a powerful voice for conservation and responsible planning. Camenzind was also a founding member of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

He holds a B.S. in biology, an M.S. in zoology and a Ph.D. in zoology. His doctoral research on the ecology and behavior of free-ranging coyotes in Jackson Hole was the first to document hierarchical and territorial behavioral patterns in relatively unmolested coyote populations.

Bert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature. Contact him at columnists@jhnewsandguide.com.

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