“It’s always devastating when you witness a species’ extinction, for what you are seeing is the dismantling of ecosystems and irreparable genetic loss.”—Tim Flannery The Weather Makers (2004, 118)
This blog is one response to the seventh mass extinction. It will publish obituaries (500-1000 words in length) in honor of species that are threatened, near endangered, or extinct in an effort to raise awareness, inform, educate and entertain. Such an obituary would treat an entire species the way a typical obituary treats an individual. An extinctuary might include a biographical sketch, a discussion of major evolutionary accomplishments, a description of its niche, some reference to closest family (or genus) relations, who in particular will miss this species, and some accounting of what will be lost. It would be reasonable to expect the tone of such a genre to be a some mixture of dark, informative, and humorous. The tone may be tongue-in-cheek, but the topic is deadly serious. This blog is meant to help us remember these absences, these gaps in the fabric of various ecosystems, and account for the genetic libraries of Alexandria that are lost when an unbroken thread of thousands of millions of years of continuous evolutionary experimentation is suddenly broken. It is very difficult to see what is no longer there, and this blog would help illuminate what is absent.
In order to write these obituaries, we will canvas the widest possible audience of biologists (i.e., ornithologists, herpetologists, entomologists, ichthyologists, botanists) and find those individual experts who focus on endangered species, and showcase their work in extinctuaries.
In addition, this blog will publish articles on the topic of extinction, repost the latest news, offer reviews of books on the subject, and collate resources for environmental activism and further reading—broadly, we aim to build a hub of death.