Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record reaches into your imagination and draws you closer to the final days of a variety of extinct animals on Earth. Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record is filled with poignant and powerful first-hand accounts, photographic records, and illustrations. Written by Errol Fuller, a global expert on extinctions, whose previous works include Extinct Birds, Dodo: From Extinction to Icon, and The Great Auk, the book shares with us often tragic, yet humorous stories about some of these animals.
The series of photos by James Tanner with some of the last images of ivory-billed woodpeckers ever taken are especially iconic. The images show a young Mr. J. J. Kuhn with an ivory-billed woodpecker clinging to his arm and sitting on his head. In a sense, the ivory-billed woodpecker is reaching out to us to dare to imagine an Earth where they no longer exist.
They are now considered extinct with no confirmations in over six decades.
Having viewed animals that have gone extinct with my own eyes, it is a haunting experience that challenges our sense of purpose, our sense of order, and our imagination. There is no going back.
On this theme, an interesting article the New York Times’ article The Mammoth Cometh described how scientists in a variety of disciplines are working to restore extinct species through cloning and other genetic techniques.
Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record expands on the themes in the New York Times’ article by personalizing the last days of these extinct species. With a photographic record of extinctions from 1870 to 2004 (the most recent being the extinction of the Hawaiian po’ouli), Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record describes the heroic efforts of many non-expert individuals to protect these last of the species from going to extinct. Some of the remarkable efforts include the personal stories of Anne LaBastille to protect the Atitlán giant grebe (Podilymbus grebe) to the highly personal story the Parr Family and the New Zealand laughing owl (Sceloglaux albifacies).
We now live in a time of mass extinctions with professionals suggesting our extinction rates are 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal background rate. This means we may be losing species each day to extinction.
Where does that leave us today? How do we understand our sense of purpose and order with our home —our Earth—losing its biological splendor to human-induced extinction?
How to order:
Paperback: Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Authors: Errol Fuller
Gabriel Thoumi is a Certified Ecologist and a frequent contributor to Mongabay.com. He is an Affiliated Researcher at the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech.
(02/20/2014) Due to the wonderful idiosyncrasies of evolution, there is one country on Earth that houses 20 percent of the world’s primates. More astounding still, every single one of these primates—an entire distinct family in fact—are found no-where else. The country is, of course, Madagascar and the primates in question are, of course, lemurs. But the far-flung island of Madagascar, once a safe haven for wild evolutionary experiments, has become an ecological nightmare. Overpopulation, deep poverty, political instability, slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal logging for lucrative woods, and a booming bushmeat trade has placed 94 percent of the world’s lemurs under threat of extinction, making this the most imperiled mammal group on the planet. But, in order to stem a rapid march toward extinction, conservationists today publicized an emergency three year plan to safeguard 30 important lemur forests in the journal Science.
(02/10/2014) Almost nothing is known about the little dodo, a large, archaic, pigeon-like bird found only on the islands of Samoa. Worse still, this truly bizarre bird is on the verge of extinction, following the fate of its much more famous relative, the dodo bird. Recently, conservationists estimated that fewer than 200 survived on the island and maybe far fewer; frustratingly, sightings of the bird have been almost non-existent in recent years. But conservation efforts were buoyed this December when researchers stumbled on a juvenile little dodo hanging out in a tree. Not only was this an important sighting of a nearly-extinct species, but even more so it proved the species is still successfully breeding. In other words: there is still time to save the species from extinction so long as conservationists are able to raise the funds needed.
(01/21/2014) Scientific American) magazine recently ran an article on the rediscovery of the smoothtooth blacktip shark (Carcharhinus leiodon) in a Kuwaiti fish market. Believed extinct for over 100 years, the smoothtooth had not been seen since the naturalist Wilhelm Hein returned from a trip to Yemen in 1902. With its reappearance, scientists scoured Kuwaiti markets and discovered an astounding 47 individual smoothtooth blacktips.
(12/03/2013) Bigger than all of Brazil, among the harshest ecosystems on Earth, and largely undeveloped, one would expect that the Sahara desert would be a haven for desert wildlife. One would anticipate that big African animals—which are facing poaching and habitat loss in other parts of the world—would thrive in this vast wilderness. But a new landmark study in Diversity and Distributions finds that the megafauna of the Sahara desert are on the verge of total collapse.