Ted Turner Ranch in New Mexico Conserves Thousands of Acres in Federal Deal


Bats exiting a cave at Armendaris Ranch
New Mexico Nature Conservancy

Habitat for about a million bats will be protected from human impacts through a deal between a nonprofit and the federal government.

About 315,000 acres of southern New Mexico land owned by billionaire media tycoon Ted Turner were protected from development in a partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense and New Mexico Land Conservancy.

The deal saw a conservation easement added to Armendaris Ranch, owned by Turner, due to perceived cultural significance and biological diversity on the land in Sierra and Socorro counties.

The ranch land supports more than 500 vertebrate species, per a report from the Land Conservancy, including multiple listed for federal and state protections.

It also contains the Fra Cristobal Mountain Range, home to 230 desert bighorn sheep, and lava fields that include the Jornada cave system that houses bats of multiple species.

I love the area around Socorro anyway. This will give me another excuse to wander down that way. I’m presuming some sort of public access is part of this deal – if it doesn’t already exist.

How cockroaches survived the asteroid impact that killed off dinosaurs

When the rock now known as the Chicxulub impactor plummeted from outer space and slammed into the Earth 66 million years ago, cockroaches were there. The impact caused a massive earthquake, and scientists think it also triggered volcanic eruptions thousands of miles from the impact site. Three-quarters of plants and animals on Earth died, including all dinosaurs, except for some species that were ancestors of today’s birds.

How could roaches a couple of inches long survive when so many powerful animals went extinct? It turns out that they were nicely equipped to live through a meteoric catastrophe.

If you’ve ever seen a cockroach, you’ve probably noticed that their bodies are very flat. This is not an accident. Flatter insects can squeeze themselves into tighter places. This enables them to hide practically anywhere – and it may have helped them survive the Chicxulub impact.

When the meteor struck, temperatures on Earth’s surface skyrocketed. Many animals had nowhere to flee, but roaches could take shelter in tiny soil crevices, which provide excellent protection from heat.

The meteor’s impact triggered a cascade of effects. It kicked up so much dust that the sky darkened. As the sun dimmed, temperatures plunged and conditions became wintry around the globe. With little sunlight, surviving plants struggled to grow, and many other organisms that relied on those plants went hungry.

Not cockroaches, though. Unlike some insects that prefer to eat one specific plant, cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers. This means they will eat most foods that come from animals or plants as well as cardboard, some kinds of clothing and even poop. Having appetites that aren’t picky has allowed cockroaches to survive lean times since the Chicxulub extinction and other natural disasters.

My native cynicism isn’t the only reason why I agree these critters will probably outlast our species. They have a better track record.