Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A loss and a win

As was feared, The Yangtze River dolphin is officially extinct.

"After more than 20 million years on the planet, the Yangtze river dolphin is today officially declared extinct, the first species of cetacean (whale, dolphin or porpoise) to be driven from this planet by human activity.

"An intensive six-week search by an international team of marine biologists involving two boats that ploughed up and down the world's busiest river last December failed to find a single specimen."

The loss is even worse, if this is possible, because it was not only the first large mammal to disappear in 50 years; it was, according to the Independent, the first genus in 500. (But surely so was the Thylacine?) HT Odious.

On the other hand, the black- footed ferret of our plains, once feared extinct, is bouncing back faster than expected after a slow start. I do wonder about VERY long term survival-- like the sage grouse and a fox ( I am uncertain of the taxonomic status of the fox), it lives entirely within the area of the Yellowstone Supervolcano.

I await comments from John Carlson who worked with the species when its status was precarious.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Steller's Sea Cow?

I'd say those were fairly large, certainly heavier than the river dolphin in question.

(I seem to recall that the dolphins were called su-sus locally)

If your definition of large extends down to the kilogram range, the pig footed bandicoot and west indian rice rats are also extinct genera from the last 500 years.

-R. A. Wilderson