The Database

 

Section: Animals

Section: Plants and their allies

Section: Fungi

Section: Bacteria and diseases

Section: Euglenozoans

Section: Oomycota (Water Molds and Downy Mildews)

Section: Breeds and Cultivars

Section: Most Recent Global Extinctions

Section: The Thylacine Archive

Section: Local Rediscoveries

 

The various recognised taxonomic groups have changed radically since Carl Linnaeus enumerated them in 1753 for plants (Species Plantarum, first edition) and 1758 for animals (Systema Naturae, tenth edition). With the creation of seemingly ever more trivial taxonomic ranks (e.g. McKenna & Bell, 1997) and the surgence of cladistics in the late 20th century, higher taxonomy has become both über dynamic and über complex. The situation is increasingly being recognised as artificial, since Linnaeus' taxonomic system is essentially predicated upon false bifurcations. While speciation (the evolution of new species) certainly entails genetic divergence, at the biological level it is far more subtle than incorrigible divisions. Populations often freely hybridise and introgress long after they have "diverged". In reality life is like a long, winding, labrinthyne river. It's salinity level may differ here and there, but such changes are just as natural as the clear continuity of one droplet with the next as they move together through genetic space and time. The odd one being liquidated through evaporation (i.e. extinction).

The conservation status assigned to each entry should be taken as, to varying degrees, tentative. Cases where there is no suitable habitat left are rare, and they may still persist in captivity (knowingly or not). Thus an airtight case for extinction is very difficult to build. While most cases of rediscovery are due to a failure to have previously surveyed significant parts of known or suitable habitat. Or the organism was not, or at least should not, have been feared extinct in the first place. Decades without a record means absolutely nothing in and of itself. While the taxonomic validity or synonymy of a given taxon is somewhat subjective, and there is the very slight risk that a taxon will be (consciously or subconsciously) synonymised in order to reduce the number of extinctions.