A moment of extinction


Forum Staff
Apr 2010
T'Republic of Yorkshire
A few days ago, the last Pinta giant tortoise, nicknamed Lonesome George, died.
BBC News - Last Pinta giant tortoise Lonesome George dies

He was 100 years old (a young adult in his species' terms). Conservationists had been trying to breed him with other tortoises which were genetically very close to him, but despite sharing his enclosure with a bevvy of delectable female tortoises, he didn't seem to be all that interested.

Which I suppose is understandable - we're 96% genetically similar to chimpanzees, but would you sleep with one, no matter how pretty she was?

Another species has bitten the dust, but does Lonesome George's death matter? Species come and go all the time. It's true that humans played a big part in the extinction of many island species (such as the dodo) which had never learned to fear humans and had no defences against ground-based predators, but new species arise to take their place over time. The Earth has recovered from a major loss of biodiversity several times in multiple extinction events. It will be around after we're gone most likely, and something else will take our place.


Historum Emeritas
Jul 2008
R.I.P Lonesome George. :crying:

Yes, I agree this is just us getting misty-eyed over a fairly natural occurrence (extinction of species, even when it is brought about by humans). Nature is fairly resilient and self-recovering. It replaces species with such ease that humans would do well to keep that in mind.
Jun 2012
Oh no! Poor George! I saw Lonesome George on a David Attenborough program, he said then he wasn't breeding with other females, they thought he would die the last of his kind. It's so sad that it has happened. I know that extinction events are part of the cycle of life and death but George's kind have gone because of us. Their decline started in the 1850's, they were exploited for their meat and oil, their habitat destroyed in order to make way for agricultural land and introduction of non-native species to the islands, such as rats, goats and pigs didn't help either. They had no chance to recover their numbers.

I do find myself wondering though, we are part of nature, a large proportion of extinctions happening at the moment can be attributed to our life styles and expansion of our species. Is this just another kind of extinction event, as opposed to asteroids, volcanic eruptions and climate change? In other words, we have been so successful we are pushing other species to the brink because they can not adapt quickly enough. Is this nature at work? should be stand by and let it happen?
Feb 2008
trapped inside a hominid skull
Jun 2012
I agree we should do what we can to minimize our impact on the environment and other species, ultimately our survival is linked with other species. However we can not stop mass extinction events happening again (i.e climate change, super volcanic eruptions etc), I think in some way these events encourage change and diversity, life becomes more robust as it is challenged to its limits.

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