Articles on the Current Biodiversity Crisis


Fritsch's Quagga Photo (1864) taken in South Africa Has Been Rediscovered - written by Branden Holmes and Jasper Hulshoff Pol. Announces the rediscovery of a stereophoto slide copy of Fritsch's photo of a living Quagga in South Africa taken on 8 April 1864.


What's in a name? The nomenclature of the thylacine - written by professional historian Chris Lee (BA and MA from the University of Leeds). Examines the many historical names for the thylacine, both scientific and vernacular, and compares the appropriateness and fortunes of older terms for the species that are no longer in general use with the favoured terms that we use today such as thylacine, Tasmanian tiger and Thylacinus cynocephalus.


The Damage Forrest Galante Has Done to Conservation Biology - The television host Forrest Galante is actively doing damage to conservation biology and it's public perception by constructing false narratives in episodes of Extinct or Alive. He makes out as if he has rediscovered many species, which implies that professional conservation biologists are either ignorant or incompetent. In reality, they are neither, and do a critical job in very trying conditions.


How Smart Were Neanderthals? Or, How Dumb Are We? - A short article that raises people's consciousness to the fact that our shared evolutionary history with Neanderthals means that we should expect them to be highly intelligent too, even without specific evidence of it.


Thylacines and Dingoes - Discusses the arrival of the dingo in Australia, and its possible effect on the thylacine. Did it reach Tasmania? Did it cause the thylacine's extinction on the mainland? Were other factors involved? If so, which factors? What about New Guinea and the dingo's relative, the singing dog? Did the situation there mirror that in Australia?


Defining Extinction - Offers a discussion of the term 'extinction', and attempts to semantically differentiate it from the term 'death'. Although largely interchangeable, there are benefits to constraining their respective meanings to ensure mutual exclusivity.


Conservation Status is Onto-Epistemic - Discusses the dual nature of conservation categories as both human and natural. Our ultimate aim is, somewhat contrary to evolution, to conserve taxa (e.g. species and subspecies). Conservation categories are a tool to help achieve this, which are a hybrid between epistemology and ontology. That is, between knowledge and reality, respectively.


A Catalogue System of Thylacine Sighting Reports - Introduces a new catalogue system for categorising reports of thylacine sightings and other evidence of their persistence. This allows patterns amongst sightings to be more clearly visible, such as potential evidence of migration (unknown in Tasmanian thylacines) and other potential differences (e.g. crepuscular vs nocturnal) between the mainland, Tasmanian and New Guinean thylacine populations to emerge.


We'll Still Be Killing Species After We've Died Out - The number of species who's extinction can be attributed to us humans will still be increasing even after we've become extinct ourselves. This is because we are effecting three different kinds of biodiversity loss, only one of which is the extinction of species. Loss of genetic diversity affects the differential potential of individuals and populations to adapt and survive, thus altering the global evolutionary trajectory of life on Earth.


Pauline Taxa: Fossil Taxa Later Discovered Alive - Lists and discusses Pauline taxa (after the Biblical figure Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus), a newly coined term to largely replace the misnomer "Lazarus taxon". Disappearance from the fossil record for a geologically extended period is not the same as extinction. Otherwise reappearance would qualify as de-extinction, a process that is, if at all, only conceivably achievable through cloning.


Does the Thylacine Still Exist? [currently being rewritten] - Argues that the thylacine is now extinct in Australia (i.e. Tasmania and the mainland), and can only be found in museums and private collections. But it may exist in New Guinea, where there have not been sufficient searches for the species. But with the revelation that the thylacine's genome has finally been sequenced, could we see them again anyway?


Rediscovery Versus Relocation - Attempts to demarcate rediscovery and relocation, because the former is more significant. Too often scientists tout a rediscovery when the taxon was never really feared extinct. In a culture where scientific publications are increasingly used as a metric for a scientist's worth (i.e. quantity over quality), putatively documenting a 'rediscovery' is more likely to result in publication than merely relocating an under-collected taxon.


Modern Sightings - Discusses modern sightings (without tangible evidence) of putatively extinct species and subspecies, and suggests a minimum of nine different criteria for evaluating them. When tangible evidence is available (e.g. photos, scat, footprints etc.), deference to qualified experts should be protocol, unless there is reasonable evidence or suspicion that the evidence will be lost, destroyed or stolen. In which case the safest option is to conserve the evidence as best as possible.