Retraction Watch has the puzzler of the day this morning, and I think I can safely make that claim even though I haven't finished scanning the day's news.
It has to do with Przewalski's horse, which somehow seems to come up in my reading more often than it should, considering its numbers. According to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., there are about 1,500 of them in zoos and breeding facilities--derived from 14 founders--and some 400 that have been reintroduced to the wild in Mongolia and China.
If you haven't heard of this creature, here are some "Cool Facts" from the zoo, before we discuss today's news:
- Przewalski’s horses have never been tamed for riding, which means that they are the last truly wild horse in existence today.
- Przewalski's horses have 66 chromosomes, two more than domestic horses.
- The Mongolian name for these horses is "takhi," which means "spirit". Horses are central to Mongolian culture, and takhi are a symbol of their national heritage.
- The Chinese call the Przewalski’s horse "yehmah." [PR: Why this is a cool fact is not entirely clear to me.]
- These horses were scientifically described in the late 19th century after Polish naturalist Colonel Nikolai Przewalski obtained a skull and hide of this seldom-seen animal and shared them with scientists at a museum in St. Petersburg.
Now, today's news. In a post on Retraction Watch, Ivan Oransky writes that the Equine Veterinary Journal has retracted a six-paragraph study on Przewalski's horse--and has done so for mysterious reasons, adding to the mystique of this rare creature. The editors of the journal write, "The retraction has been agreed due to the identification of several errors and inaccuracies in the information presented in the article."
Oransky's take? '''Several errors and inaccuracies' seemed like a lot in a six-paragraph paper." I'm with him on that one. See Oransky's post for other cool facts on Przewalski's horse. And stay tuned as the mystery unfolds; we'll update here.
- Paul Raeburn