Understanding Extinct [Science Tattoo]

By Carl Zimmer | February 20, 2010 8:10 pm

Dodo440Cecilia writes, “I am working on my PhD in wildlife population genetics, and I can trace my passion for my research to a moment when I was in elementary school and we learned about the extinct dodo bird from Mauritius Island.  At first, I could not understand what “extinct” meant, but as the concept sunk in that I would never see this bird, and no one else would ever see it again, I felt a deep sadness and sense of loss.  Recently, as I was slogging through field and lab work and my ambition started sagging, I decided to get a dodo tattoo to remind myself why I chose this path.  Extinction is forever, and we never know what we’ve lost until it’s gone.  Some researchers believe that the dodo was the prime seed disperser for the tambalacoque tree that is declining in numbers because there hasn’t been a dodo around for over 300 years to abrade the seeds.  If this is true, it would be a succinct example of how extinctions reverberate through ecosystems.  I hope that my work will help prevent future extinctions of wildlife.”

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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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