Tuesday, April 11, 2006

And then there were none...

David Quammen is a noted writer of essays in science (and other topics) and is the author of a well-written book "The Song of the Dodo", on applying the lessons learned from studies on island biogeographies, to understand species extinction and evolution.

In this book there is one particular paragraph that is quite haunting. David takes the reader along a hypothetical scenario where he describes what the final days of the Dodo (Raphus cucullatus) may have been like, reproduced here:
Raphus cucullatus had become rare unto death. But this one flesh-and-blood individual still lived. Imagine that she was thirty years old, or thirty-five...In the dark of an early morning in 1667, say, during a rainstorm, she took cover beneath a cold stone ledge at the base of one of the Black River cliffs. She drew her head down against her body, fluffed her feathers for warmth, squinted in patient misery. She waited. She didn't know it, nor did anyone else, but she was the only dodo on Earth. When the storm passed, she never opened her eyes. This is extinction.

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