The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

The poster bird for the whole extinction deal, presumably because it was harmless and sort of cute, which is how we like our animals. It would be interesting to attempt to determine what's deader, something dead as a dodo or something dead as a doornail. Doornails still exist, but they were never alive in the first place, so it's sort of a wash. The name, by the way, basically means "moron" in the Portuguese of the time. That's insult to injury on a very visceral level. You're a happy flightless bird, you waddle up to your interesting new visitors and WHAM with a stick. And then they call you a moron. A

Passenger Pigeon
The thing you always hear about passenger pigeons is that they once covered the sky like a blanket when migrating. Now, don't get me wrong, I certainly don't want to wipe out even the most annoying and inconvenient of God's creatures, but that doesn't seem like the sort of thing that our society would put up with for long. Let's just say that if someone managed to clone passenger pigeons and restore them to their former sun-eclipsing glory, and once again "the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow" as Audubon put it, this person would not be receiving the Nobel Prize for Things People Appreciate. C

I definitely think this one was a terrible loss, if only because I love the word "quagga." A group of South Africans is attempting to breed quaggas back into existence, but in the meantime I think we should name something else "quagga" just to keep the name in circulation. There are people who object to these attempts to re-create extinct animals on the grounds that it will make people less concerned about wiping out entire species. I can see their point: "What do you mean the condors have all been wiped out? We've got a whole vial of 'em right here." B+

Irish Elk
I thought I'd drop one in that isn't our fault. This one died out somewhere around 10,000 years ago, which rules out even the Portuguese. Like many of us, it was actually neither Irish nor an elk, and like many of us it was the center of a theological controversy. A vocal contingent argued that God would never allow an animal to become extinct and that we were sure to find a living specimen if only we searched thoroughly and checked under our car seats. Aren't you glad that we've moved on from such silly dogma and on to more scientific questions like whether the dinosaurs all drowned in The Flood? B

Great Auk
The sad thing here is that our children will never know how truly great an auk can be. They'll gaze upon a Razor-Billed Auk or perhaps a Craveri's Murrelet and they'll say "Wow! That's a great auk!" and we'll lower our eyes and sadly sigh to ourselves, knowing that true auk greatness has been removed from the world forever. Is it just me or does "Craveri's Murrelet" sound like an enchanted treasure from a D&D game? C-

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