Wednesday, 3 March 2010

"Plump but not tasty"

Last week I finally finished reading "A Short History Of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson. The last chapter was called 'Goodbye', about extinction, it was very sad. Here are some extracts:

"A rather less desirable milestone was being passed on the island of Mauritius, far out in the Indian Ocean some 1,300 kilometers off the east coast of Madagascar. There some forgotten sailor or sailor's pet was harrying to death the last of the dodos, the famously flightless bird whose dim but trusting nature and lack of leggy zip made it a rather irresistible target for bored young tars on shore leave. Millions of years of peaceful isolation had not prepared it for the erratic and deeply unnerving behaviour of human beings.
You would be hard pressed, I would submit, to find a better pairing of occurrences to illustrate the divine and felonious nature of the human being - a species of organism that is capable of unraveling the deepest secrets of the heavens while at the same time pounding into extinction, for no purpose at all, a creature that never did us any harm and wasn't even remotely capable of understanding what we were doing to it as we did it. Indeed, dodos were so spectacularly short on insight, it is reported, that if you wished to find all the dodos in a vicinity you had only to catch one and set it to squarking, and all the others would waddle along to see what was up.
What is known of the Dodo is this: it lived on Mauritius, was plump but not tasty, and was the biggest-ever member of the pigeon family ... It was a little over two and a half feet tall and about the same distance from beak-tip to backside. Being flightless, it nested on the ground, leaving its eggs and chicks tragically easy prey for pigs, digs and monkeys brought to the island by outsiders. It was probably extinct by 1683, and most certainly gone by 1693. Beyond that we know almost nothing except of course that we will not see its like again"

"The lovely Carolina parakeet. Emerald green, with a golden head, it was arguably the most striking and beautiful bird ever to live in North America - parrots don't usually venture so far north, as you may have noticed - and at its peak it existed in vast numbers, exceeded only by the passenger pigeon. But the Carolina parakeet was also considered a pest by farmers and easily hunted because it flocked tightly and had a peculiar habit of flying up at the sound of gunfire (as you would expect), but then returning almost at once to check on fallen comrades."

Those parakeets sound so sweet and cute :'( it made me cry reading about them. Poor green birds, the world would look so much nicer with them flying about the place. BASTARD HUMANS! Also imagine if there were still Dodos waddling about the place too, it would be so cool, poor defenseless creatures! So yes I was too sad to go to sleep after reading all that, I turned the TV on and watched an ep of Curb Your Enthusiasm, that distracted me and cheered me up enough to go to sleep.
I drew this in my visual diary to remind me of the day:

"Nobody knows quite how destructive human beings are, but it is a fact that over the last fifty thousand years or so, wherever we have gone animals have tended to vanish, often in astonishingly large numbers."


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