Feral Cats and Red-Haired Neanderthals
ALISON STEWART, host:
All right, you're listening to THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. Are you buckled-up, Robert?
ROBERT SMITH, host:
STEWART: Because we're ready to take off on a journey where I can't even say where we might end. It's called The Ramble.
SMITH: The first talk(ph) on The Ramble is lovely JFK, John F. Kennedy Airport here in New York City. And what are those little things moving on the ground? That's your landing? Those are feral cats. Yes, several dozen cats have been living peacefully in old, abandoned cargo carts near Building 67. That's fine. We expect that. Well, it turns out now that airport operators of JFK had announced that they will begin removing the cats and turning them over to animal authorities.
SMITH: I know that does not look good. Apparently, an airport spokesman told the New York Times, we've got a situation here where the cats are being fed and the food attracts rodents. And the rodents attract the birds. And the birds, of course, can cause planes to crash. And I don't know why she swallowed the fly.
(Soundbite of laughter)
But you know how that ends. Well, this has got animal rights people very upset who…
STEWART: Of course.
SMITH: They've actually been feeding these cats. And they estimate that there are a hundreds of cats just living in the airport there - some of which have escaped from those little carriers.
STEWART: Oh, come on.
SMITH: And some of which have been dumped there when people go into their planes.
STEWART: All right. I'm stopping you now.
SMITH: I know.
STEWART: You're breaking my heart.
SMITH: I know.
STEWART: You're breaking my heart. Let's talk about something a lot nicer like bunnies or, say, lady bugs.
SMITH: Aww, lady bugs.
STEWART: We love that. 700,000 plus lady bugs have been invited to New York City. They've been invited to a certain complex. People know it as this Stuyvesant Town over like East 14th Street. They have been brought in to try to control the other bug population - aphids, mites - other all kinds of pest. They were imported on a plane from Bozeman, Montana.
And it's estimated that each bug can eat its way through bug's larva and eggs about 19 square inches a day. Of course, everyone in Manhattan just wants to know if they get rid of roaches. But the good thing is that apartment complex will have very good luck.
SMITH: Well, lady bugs are the new roaches. That's - it's going to be 30 years from now, people are going to be saying, how do I get rid of these lady bugs?
STEWART: Lady bugs.
SMITH: Well, it turns out, by the way, in a new study - that's why I love science - that cavemen were carrot-topped. You know, we think of caveman as hunched over with the dark eye and the big, old brow. Well, some DNA samples suggest that perhaps Neanderthals had pale skin and reddish hair. They're considered to have been close relatives of us, humans, and they went extinct about 17,000 years ago.
But, I mean, this gene which obviously got passed on…
STEWART: Explains Carrot Top the comedian I think.
SMITH: I - explains Carrot Top and Lucy O'Ball and Carol Burnet. And, in fact, as part of this process, they discovered that Neanderthals also have a gene known to influence speech.
SMITH: So that might explain why redheads are known to be somewhat loquacious.
STEWART: There you go. Finally, as long as we're on the hair beat…
SMITH: This is all connecting.
STEWART: An update.
SMITH: You're weaving this together.
STEWART: Tatatantadan(ph). Update: Che Guevara, eBay. Remember, I don't know if you were listening earlier in the week, someone was selling a lock of Che Guevara's hair on eBay. It was suggested perhaps a high donor from Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, perhaps was bidding on it - not the case. The winner of Che's hair was Mr. Bill Butler, a Houston bookstore owner. He snagged the lock of hair for $100,000, the asking price. He turned out to be the only bidder. He is a collector of '60s memorabilias. So I guess he's a happy guy.
SMITH: I'd go to his bookstore just to see that lock of hair.
STEWART: Just to see the lock of hair. Hey, you can unbuckle now, Robert. We have made it through The Ramble.