Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Uluru news

I received a few more excellent photos of Uluru from my Young mate Bruce Hudson. [Well, he's no older than me, and he happens to live on the outskirts of a New South Wales town of that name.]

I was intrigued to hear that, in pools up on the rock, there are tadpoles.

Does this mean that Mr and Mrs Frog climbed (jumped) all the way up there in order to copulate and procreate on the sacred rock? Probably not. I would imagine that it's the familiar story of frog spawn being swept up by gusts of wind and deposited on the surface of Uluru rock pools. Unless, of course, there is some kind of mysterious Aboriginal magic at play...

When I was a child, I was prepared to believe in the spontaneous creation of tiny creatures such as tadpoles from festering mud. Why shouldn't such reptiles suddenly spring into existence, even without the intervention of progenitors? It took me ages to learn that you don't get babies of any kind whatsoever without primordial acts of sexual intercourse... even among frogs. My enlightenment would have been so much more rapid if only my parents had taken me aside, one day, and explained to me: "Billy, we screwed joyfully to produce you... and you'll do the same thing to produce your own children." Funnily, though, parents don't talk to their children like that. Me, for example: I would have never imagined using such crude language in the context of Manya and Chino. Our children, while believing for a while in the possibility of magic tadpoles on top of Uluru, are expected to get around to learning unaided on the bush telegraph that, if they literally don't give a screw (not an unpleasant task), they won't produce offspring.

Would you believe it? The great Charles Darwin believed in pangenesis. In the Origin of Species, he writes: "... every unit or cell of the body throws off gemmules or undeveloped atoms, which are transmitted to the offspring of both sexes..." In other words, Darwin would have found it perfectly normal that his mysterious gemmules might ascend Uluru, with or without help from a stiff breeze, and that these "undeveloped atoms" (!) might participate by devious means in the creation of the tadpoles observed by my friend Bruce.

I remain intrigued (?) by [trick] questions of the following kind:

Accustomed to the influx of tourists, are new generations of Uluru frogs becoming more and more familiar with tourists?

— Have baby frogs inherited this familiarity to the extent that they now hop along to tourists and beg for food?

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