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homunculus (12)
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Once There Were Billions. And Then None

One hundred years ago today Martha, the last known passenger pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. [more inside]
posted by lharmon on Sep 1, 2014 - 41 comments

And no birds sing

Invertebrate numbers nearly halve as human population doubles. The decline of birds might have something to do with this recent news that half the insects (and spiders, crustaceans, slugs, worms) are gone.
posted by sfenders on Aug 30, 2014 - 61 comments

Inside the giant panda research centre

Photographer Ami Vitale was allowed exclusive access into the Wolong National Nature Reserve managed by the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda as it trains pandas to be released into the wild. [more inside]
posted by latkes on Apr 23, 2014 - 6 comments

"We had an office full of people sitting with our jaws on the table..."

"I had heard about this film through various channels off and on through the years. It had gotten to the point where it was almost apocryphal in my mind.... Nobody knew where it was, nobody had ever seen it, but I was aware it existed. It was like the holy grail." said Wayne Petersen, director of the Massachusetts Important Bird Areas program for Mass. Audubon on the archival footage of the extinct heath hen discovered, restored and premiering at the Mass Audubon Birders Meeting this month. [more inside]
posted by jessamyn on Mar 12, 2014 - 20 comments

De-extinction

The Mammoth Cometh. "Bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening — and it’s going to be very, very cool. Unless it ends up being very, very bad." [Previously, Via]
posted by homunculus on Feb 27, 2014 - 74 comments

The Sixth Extinction

In his 1996 book The Song of the Dodo, David Quammen observed that if you destroy most of a habitat and leave only a small patch of wilderness behind, you have effectively created an island—and islands, for complex ecological reasons, sustain far fewer species and far more extinctions than mainlands. Now watch things get complicated. At the same time that our logging, mining, farming, road-building, suburban-sprawling species is turning the entire planet into an archipelago, “global trade and travel do the reverse: they deny even the remotest islands their remoteness.” The result, as Kathryn Schulz reports, is that we are living through The Sixth Extinction.
posted by shivohum on Feb 11, 2014 - 20 comments

Feeling sad about the Axolotl? This beaver may make you happier.

A beaver is alive and well in England, about 800 years after the last one was seen alive. Of course the big question remains: Where the heck did the beaver come from?
posted by Mezentian on Jan 30, 2014 - 37 comments

RIP Axolotl

It looks like axolotls are gone forever. This may not mean much to you if you aren't into amphibians, but if you read Mad Magazine back in the day the word might conjure up some memories, or even a poem. [more inside]
posted by kinnakeet on Jan 29, 2014 - 77 comments

One year during the sixth extinction

Ten animals that went extinct in 2013, including the western black rhinoceros.
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 3, 2014 - 40 comments

Missing

What Is Missing? is artist and architect Maya Lin's (previously) last memorial, this one to vanishing species and habitats. [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Nov 10, 2013 - 10 comments

Send in the Tanks

Sebastiao Salgado has recently visited the Awa- Guaja, a hunter gatherer people who are on the verge of extinction.
Brazil has sent in the armed forces to try and protect their lands and the animals that live there from illegal logging.
posted by adamvasco on Aug 5, 2013 - 3 comments

"aboriginal landscapes of fabulous hybrid creatures"

Marguerite Humeau is an artist who has made reconstructions of extinct creatures' vocal tracts, extrapolating from extant species and fossil remains. The Extinction Orchestra. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 12, 2013 - 5 comments

The Labrador Duck, the Great Auk, the Carolina Parakeet...

The Lost Bird Project documents the stories of five North American birds driven to extinction in modern times and sculptor Todd McGrain's road-trip to memorialize them. (via)
posted by spamandkimchi on Apr 13, 2013 - 5 comments

Some people just can't let sleeping frogs lie...

Extinction got you down? Try de-extinction! Our species has played a role in the extinction of ... many other species. But now some scientists are proposing a radical turn of the tables: Bringing lost species back from the dead. How to Resurrect Lost Species. [more inside]
posted by heyho on Mar 16, 2013 - 28 comments

Is artificial intelligence more a threat to humanity than an asteroid?

Omens: When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see – human extinction or a future among the stars? [Via]
posted by homunculus on Feb 27, 2013 - 31 comments

New frontiers in invasive species containment

Scientists to drop dead mice laced with Tylenol on Guam from helicopters
posted by silby on Feb 23, 2013 - 51 comments

Driving them to Extinction

The Guinea Worm, which causes Guinea Worm disease (or Dracunculiasis) is on track to be the first parasitic disease eliminated. And with only a water filter. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 25, 2013 - 31 comments

Subspecies Extinction Alert

DNA analysis has confirmed the death, by poaching, of the last Javan rhino in Vietnam. This marks the official extinction of the Vietnamese subspecies of Javan rhinoceros. The entire species is now represented by just 35 individuals from the Indonesian subspecies, all of whom reside in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia.
posted by Scientist on Jan 16, 2013 - 52 comments

Mountain of Dinosaurs

"Mountain of Dinosaurs" (1967) A Russian cartoon, directed by Rasa Strautmane. WARNING: things don't end well for the Dinosaurs. [via]
posted by brundlefly on Oct 16, 2012 - 4 comments

An Adventure 65 Million Dominoes In The Making

The Fall of the Dinosaurs (in Dominoes) [via]
posted by brundlefly on Oct 2, 2012 - 5 comments

The 100 most endangered species

"Priceless or Worthless?" is a handsomely photographed report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature identifying the 100 most endangered animals, plants, and fungi (9 MB PDF) on the planet and what needs to be done to save them. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 12, 2012 - 11 comments

Aurochs

Heavy Breeding. "In 1920, the brothers Lutz and Heinz Heck, directors of the Berlin and Munich zoos, respectively, began a two-decade breeding experiment. Working with domestic cattle sought out for their 'primitive' characteristics, they attempted to recreate 'in appearance and behavior' the living likeness of the animals’ extinct wild ancestor: the aurochs. 'Once found everywhere in Germany,' according to Lutz Heck, by the end of the Middle Ages the aurochs had largely succumbed to climate change, overhunting, and competition from domestic breeds." [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Jul 21, 2012 - 31 comments

Never Tell Me The Odds

Dr. Nick Bostrom puts the probability of an existential event wiping out humanity in this century at 10-20%.

Each time we make one of these new discoveries we are putting our hand into a big urn of balls and pulling up a new ball---so far we've pulled up white balls and grey balls, but maybe next time we will pull out a black ball, a discovery that spells disaster. At the moment we have no good way of putting the ball back into the urn if we don't like it. Once a discovery has been published there is no way of un-publishing it. (Dr Bostrom, previously on Metafilter.)
posted by COD on Apr 28, 2012 - 74 comments

Island exterminators

Islands make up only about 3% of the earth's land area but host about 20% of all species and 50 to 60% of endangered species. The biggest threat to islands are invasive species, mainly rats, but also pigs and cats, who feed on nesting birds and native plants. New Zealand has been the innovator in clearing islands of rats because of its endangered populations of flightless birds which are vulnerable. One species of flightless parrot, known as the kakapo, has only 131 individuals left in the "wild" - they are closely guarded 24x7 on Codfish Island, their nests surrounded by rat traps and cameras vigilantly on the lookout for invaders. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Nov 27, 2011 - 39 comments

The amphibian plague

"There is a parallel between what amphibian taxonomists do these days and what homicide detectives do. Both arrive at scenes of mayhem. Maybe they solve the crime, but they are powerless to undo it." A fungal plague is killing the world's amphibians. Hundreds of species are already gone. There is no vaccine and no cure. There is, however, an ark.
posted by escabeche on Nov 17, 2011 - 29 comments

Pons-Brooks

A reanalysis of historical astronomical observations suggests that Earth narrowly avoided an extinction event just over a hundred years ago in 1883. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Oct 17, 2011 - 29 comments

Agony and Ivory

Agony and Ivory. "Highly emotional and completely guileless, elephants mourn their dead—and across Africa, they are grieving daily as demand from China’s 'suddenly wealthy' has driven the price of ivory to $700 a pound or more. With tens of thousands of elephants being slaughtered each year for their tusks, raising the specter of an 'extinction vortex,' Alex Shoumatoff travels from Kenya to Seattle to Guangzhou, China, to expose those who are guilty in the massacre—and recognize those who are determined to stop it."
posted by homunculus on Jul 16, 2011 - 26 comments

Here, kitty, kitty. Or maybe not.

Cats are apparently the culprits behind several avian extinctions worldwide. So, are cats bad for the environment?
posted by peripathetic on Jul 11, 2011 - 138 comments

William T. Hornaday's "The Extermination of the American Bison"

William Temple Hornaday was an early--and probably a founding--member of the American conservation movement, and was also director of the National Zoological Park. He wrote a tremendously bitter and accurate report for the U.S. National Museum in 1894 on the extermination of the American bison, an absolute head-shaker, detailing the history of the bison in North America and its destruction at the hands of sportsmen, hunters, mindless dolts and many others who massacred tens of millions of the animal ("murdered" is the word Hornaday uses constantly). To put the whole issue in perspective, Hornaday issued a famous map showing the shrinkage of the North American bison herd, setting out the enormity of the issue instantly on one piece of paper, a summary of hundreds of pages of bad stories and big numbers.
posted by Trurl on Jun 15, 2011 - 18 comments

I think I'll call him Rusty.

The red-crested tree rat (Santamartamys rufodorsalis), not seen in over a hundred years, made an unexpected, nonchalant appearance at the El Dorado Bird Reserve in Colombia a couple of weeks ago. Witnesses are unavailable for comment, being too busy with squeals of "Awwwwwww" to respond to questions. Press release here; high-res photos heEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
posted by Gator on May 19, 2011 - 25 comments

Soon, there may be no more bats.

Nine species of bats have been affected by White Nose Syndrome so far, and it has killed over one million bats to date. [more inside]
posted by bibliogrrl on Aug 24, 2010 - 36 comments

What the pangeaists don't want you to know

Don't continue fooling yourself. The earth is growing and expanding rapidly. Despite plate tectonics' popular acceptance in the 60s, Samuel Warren Carey, the father of modern expansion tectonics, was publicly promoting his theories of an expanded earth as late as 1981. One of the theory's most prominent modern spokesmen is comics artist Neal Adams, who has created a number of informative videos about a new model of the universe that even manages to explain why the dinosaurs died out. [more inside]
posted by Lorc on Aug 7, 2010 - 77 comments

At least Michael Bay won't be directing...

In the year 2182 -- 172 years time -- there's a 1 in 1000 chance that we might be hit by a very large asteroid. With two centuries advance notice, will we be able to develop effective asteroid deflection techniques? [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 29, 2010 - 53 comments

Tuna’s End

Tuna’s End Adapted from the book "Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food" for the New York Times. A pretty bleak look at the state of world wide tuna fishing.
posted by chunking express on Jul 13, 2010 - 55 comments

Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species

"Bryn the pygmy rabbit died in 2008, marking the end of her genetic line. This subpopulation lost its sagebrush habitat as the land was developed for agriculture ... In an off-exhibit room at the Oregon Zoo, the staff was quiet, even reverent, as they brought in Bryn. She was one of two Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits left, and since both were old females, this was a solemn occasion." Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species
posted by melissam on May 30, 2010 - 16 comments

Bug-eating slugs, fanged fish, and killer sponges (oh my)

Attenborough's Pitcher, an "Udderly Weird Yam," a two-inch phallic mushroom already immortalized on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, and the "Bombardier Worm" ("Chaff worm" would seem a more accurate name) are just four of the newly described species making the International Institute for Species Exploration's totally arbitrary Top 10 New Species list. [more inside]
posted by dust of the stars on May 26, 2010 - 6 comments

"Did he who cooked the Lamb cook thee?"

China's last tiger... has been eaten. [more inside]
posted by orthogonality on Dec 22, 2009 - 50 comments

Extinked: tattoos of endangered species

Getting something permanently inked upon your body is not to be taken lightly, especially if it is a rare type of fungus. [more inside]
posted by jonesor on Dec 3, 2009 - 32 comments

Circle of death :(

In 20 years, according to one estimate, wild lions could be extinct in Kenya. [more inside]
posted by allkindsoftime on Nov 24, 2009 - 38 comments

Kakapo Love

'You are being shagged by a rare parrot'. Stephen Fry and zoologist Mark Carwardine have been revisiting the animals on the edge of extinction which Douglas Adams described in Last Chance to See. Here they make the acquaintance of an amorous kakapo.
posted by homunculus on Oct 1, 2009 - 29 comments

Alas, poor Quagga! I knew him, Horatio.

Photographs of extinct animals.
posted by shakespeherian on Aug 27, 2009 - 37 comments

This one brief day forget thy children dear...

The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive? In the view of paleontologist Peter Ward life on Earth is intrinsically poisonous. [more inside]
posted by thatwhichfalls on May 12, 2009 - 50 comments

Endangered seeds

These strange alien structures are among the seeds and pollen conserved at the Kew Millennium Seed Bank
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 12, 2009 - 9 comments

"Extinct" Bird Seen, Eaten

This is a metaphor for something.
posted by pianomover on Feb 20, 2009 - 71 comments

First clone of extinct species

In 2000, the Spanish Pyrenean Ibex (a type of mountain goat) went extinct. In early 2009 it was brought back to life, the first time an extinct species has been "successfully" cloned. The newborn bucardo died of respiratory failure minutes after birth, setting a second extinction record.
posted by stbalbach on Feb 15, 2009 - 34 comments

White Nose Syndrome Decimates Bat Populations in Northeastern USA

Bats sleep upside down. They hang by their feet. They have little claws. They use echolocation to catch bugs. They are the only mammals that fly. They sleep during the day. They are dying. [more inside]
posted by Mister_A on Jan 28, 2009 - 86 comments

Clones produced from mice frozen for 16 years

Production of healthy cloned mice from bodies frozen at −20°C for 16 years. Mammoths next?
posted by homunculus on Nov 4, 2008 - 22 comments

One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

A massive global study concludes a quarter of the 5,487 wild mammal species on the planet are threatened with extinction, according to a report released Monday at a World Conservation Congress in Spain. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Oct 7, 2008 - 7 comments

The 4th degree

80 percent of Americans say global warming is real and poses a threat to humanity. Which is good because if the global temperature raises by 4 degrees we're all dead. However only 44 percent would be willing to face any financial hardship in the name of a solution.
posted by Artw on Aug 10, 2008 - 89 comments

Gomphotheres, megafauna, and anachronistic fruits

Osage orange, avocado, papaya, honey locust, paw paw, persimmon, and many more: fruits that have outlasted the gomphotheres and other megafauna. These "anachronistic fruits" can be a key to understanding their intended consumers. More. More. More. And even more.
posted by fiercecupcake on Jul 31, 2008 - 33 comments

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