Photographs of Extinct Animals

| 16 Comments

A half-dozen actual photographs of now-extinct quadrupeds.

Thanks to my colleague John Scales for the citation.

16 Comments

And to think the last surviving bits of the Dodo are a few taxidermy scraps saved from a fire when the specimen was burned for being too musty. Even though they knew the bird itself was extinct, the only preserved specimen was going to be destroyed because it was dirty.

That sort of begs the question which one was the dodo?

Henry J said:

That sort of begs the question which one was the dodo?

Oh, the irony (inside joke).

Looking at those pictures just made me profoundly sad for these creatures all of which are gone because of a particularly clever and terribly destructive ape… us.

It also makes me angry about the global warming deniers and human comfort and progress and absolutely any cost to nature crowd. How many more pictures will they be able to add to this 20 years from now… 50? It’s like a slow motion car crash. I suspect we could do something significant as a species, but I doubt we will. I hope I’m wrong.

There are times when I need to be reminded that there are consequences to out actions. The only crime these beasties ever committed was simply existing.

There is a price to be paid, but as long as others have to pay the tab, I guess ‘no harm done’.

Now I need a drink, and a hanky.

I won’t deny the threat of global warming (and everything else), I know what it means and what it can do.

But I’m in a mood to be optimistic. We know better now. Well.. kind of. Zoos are more than institutions where the townsfolk can go to see exotic animals before they die. Conservation is more than a buzzword. When it’s possible animals are being reintroduced into the wild, and when it’s not they are being kept in captivity in hope of the day when they can be.

You can go to local zoos and see endangered animals that are being managed. The gene pool is monitored, computer programs are managing the genetic diversity, planning how best to breed the few remaining specimens to keep them going until they might be released into the wild.

I look at these pictures and I see a relic of the past. The pictures of the thylacines are especially haunting to me because of how strange they are, how unlike anything I’ve ever known. But the idea that such a unique animal could be left to languish and die in a zoo as the last of its species is also alien to me.

I’m not saying it’s ideal to have species alive in captivity but extinct in the wild, but it’s better than outright extinction. It’s the potential for recovery.

As to whether we’ll be able to make good on that potential… I am more pessimistic.

Looking at those pictures just made me profoundly sad for these creatures all of which are gone because of a particularly clever and terribly destructive ape… us.

It also makes me angry about the global warming deniers and human comfort and progress and absolutely any cost to nature crowd. How many more pictures will they be able to add to this 20 years from now… 50? It’s like a slow motion car crash. I suspect we could do something significant as a species, but I doubt we will. I hope I’m wrong.

Thank you for sparing me the depression of typing that out myself. Having a sister as a fundie and now watching my nephew turn 5yo I get depressed sometimes looking at him and visualizing Randy’s quote above. Then I wind up getting quietly angry with her. Herein begins the deepening divide. It’s quite like the small seething I get inside when I see some religious survey and one of the questions is “Do you think if a species is going extinct we should do something about it”? You don’t need Freud to dissect that.

To top the evening off, there’s a juvenile squirrel outside that I saw two days ago with a damaged tail under my van. His “parent” was screaming at me from the tree so I left him alone thinking he might be in shock and make it. I found him about half an hour ago all dark and soaked from the rain of the last two days of laying in the grass. It’s raining now so I covered him with a box, but I have to go deal with this. Sorry for the vent.

Dear Fundies, you can slurp it. I don’t have empathy because it’s gods gift. I have empathy because I know I am related to everything that is alive on this planet and everything you can see from it. It’s much more beautiful, connecting, and eloquent than any “bible that is the box” you try to shove your god into. If there was a hell I wouldn’t think you worthy of it, but I wouldn’t mind dangling you over it like a marshmallow for a bit.

To make it clear, the little guy is still barely alive.

We soon may have to include all Tigers. I just heard that there are only maybe 3000 specimens left, a number rapidly decreasing due to the fact that “Traditional Chinese Medicine” uses Tigers to cook up potions for virility.

Here’s another (in)famous extinction, with photos:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_pigeon

Sniff… :o(

There are also videos of Thylocines on the net.

Connectivity Wrote:

I have empathy because I know I am related to everything that is alive on this planet and everything you can see from it.

Make sure your sister knows that Michael Behe, who one of the activists most cited by evolution-deniers as their “savior,” has made it perfectly clear that he agrees that humans are related to other species. It won’t change her belief, but it will make her think twice before pretending that one must either a “Darwinist” or a Biblical literalist (if she’s inclined to do so, as many creationists are), because doing so constitutes bearing false witness.

It’s sad to consider the fate of the Thylacine. Now the race is on to save another unique Tasmanian - the Devil (Sarcophilis harrisii).

Unfortunately after being protected from the road to extinction via hunting, trapping and poisoning many decades ago, its numbers have now been devastated by the highly contagious Devil Facial Tumour Disease.

Nomad said:

The pictures of the thylacines are especially haunting to me because of how strange they are, how unlike anything I’ve ever known.

And yet that creature has been used by creationists to explain that Australia’s strictly marsupial population isn’t really all that distinct from the rest of the mammalian world. I can’t recall the exact argument, but I think they were saying that thylacines were part of the wolf “kind” rather than having evolved separately.

When I heard that, I looked up the creature and found some videos of the last ones in captivity. What a unique and interesting creature it was! Also clearly not a wolf.

Kattarina98 said:

We soon may have to include all Tigers. I just heard that there are only maybe 3000 specimens left, a number rapidly decreasing due to the fact that “Traditional Chinese Medicine” uses Tigers to cook up potions for virility.

Do you think that there might be a market for a virility potion made from cdesign proponentsists? :)

I was literally nauseated as I looked at these photos. To think that these organisms were destroyed either accidentally or intentionally due to humanity’s actions is heartbreaking, and to know that there are those who justify it on the basis of ignorance, religion, or progress is maddening.

There was a letter to the editor some time ago in the local paper in which someone wrote in saying (and this is very near an exact quote): “If these animals can’t exist on half of their original territory, maybe God is calling them home”. What an arrogant, ignorant, selfish, and ultimately, sad attitude. One wonders (since this individual brought up religion) what their religious leaders are thinking and telling their flocks.

Yet I do find hope in some ways. I have a friend who is a Christian conservative - yet has no problem with science. In fact, he studied pre-dinosaurian reptile footprints for his PhD, and quite happily accepts the ages and other scientific data used in his research. When I commented to him several years ago that I thought we should view ourselves as stewards of the environment rather than owners, he surprised me by commenting that I “sounded like a Christian”. And since then, I have heard or read about some prominent conservative religious figures who have expressed similar views. So the tide may be turning. I certainly hope so.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on August 27, 2009 2:27 PM.

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