Unique discover places Campus in international spotlight
“The moment I saw it, I knew that this was something out of the ordinary, little did I know that it would turn life on Campus upside down”. With these words, Ms Jamie Tredoux – a second year BCom student, describes the very first sighting of a curious and unknown species of fish recently discovered on the Campus.
According to Jamie, he was sitting next to one of the dams near Building 6 when his eye caught a very peculiar looking creature below the surface of the water. “I have never seen something like it before,” recalls Jamie and adds that the fish-like creature seemed to have teeth similar to that of humans. On seeing the creature, Jamie immediately called Security.
Apart from Jamie, various other members of the Campus community have reported sightings of “Smiley” – so dubbed by Prof Lirpa Xaoh, a world renowned Biologist from the University of KwaZulu Natal, who is currently visiting the campus in an effort to learn more about the creature.
The name “Smiley” was given to the unknown creature because of the full set of human-like teeth which it possesses. With the help of a team of eager workers from Technical Services, Prof Xaoh was able to catch the creature with the use of special mixture of fishpaste, liquorice and pheromones (chemical hormones).
According to Prof Xaoh the almost accidental discovery of “Smiley” by an unsuspected student will have a remarkable impact on marine biology in South Africa, and even on the African continent. This discovery is regarded as being more significant than the discovery of the coelacanth, a large, snappy species of fish that was presumed to have died out 65 million years ago.
Coelacanths were believed to have survived only until the end of the Cretaceous Period, when flying pterosaurs and a whole slew of dinosaurs perished. But in 1938 a London museum curator shocked the world when she discovered a live, 127-pound coelacanth in the catch brought up by a sea trawler next to the African coastline.
“The world we life in is full of light and noise, seven days a week. We have television, the Internet, computer games, and cell phones to keep us busy and as a result we are not as focused on our surroundings as our ancestors,” explains Prof Xaoh whilst he mentions that these so-called ‘sightings’ do not fit into our framework of science and technology and therefore people tend to think that they are illusions and hence, they do not pay attention.
Professor Xaoh is set to conduct a stringent research study on “Smiley” and all indications are that the Campus’s status as a nature reserve will in the future be heightened to that of a national heritage site. Students who want to take part in Prof Xaoh’s revolutionary research should forward their names and contact details to Annette.Willemse@nwu.ac.za Please note that all participants must be bona vide registered students of the North-West University and should be strong swimmers.
■ For the duration of the research trail, all fishing activities on the campus have been restricted and students are requested to stay clear of the dams behind Building 6.
Published by Sipho Msolo on 06 May 2011.