Midu Hadi's Reviews > The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
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really liked it
bookshelves: missing-shelf, read-in-2015, 2014, nonfic, 10-pointers, environment-nature, reviewed, read-in-november

** spoiler alert **
What I thought:

The Sixth Extinction

The Panamanian Golden Frogs are the focus of the chapter. However, the chapter is about the extinction of a large number of amphibians. Just made me sad as reading about extinctions always does.

The Mastodon's Molars
Fascinating story about an anatomist drawing conclusions and connections from fossilized remains that others fail to do so! After all, "...who would have the temerity to peer down an elephant's throat?"
I have issues with the author telling us about things that have been "proven" wrong or right. There are no "proofs" in science!

The Original Penguin
The chapter is about how Charles Lyell, a geologist, was bent on proving that nature took a "uniformitarian" way.
Reminded me of Harry Turtledove's alternate history version, Audubon in Atlantis, from Atlantis and Other Places: Stories of Alternate History and the movie, Up.
The chapter also mentions Charles's tortoises had become extinct but there was no mention of the hybrids that were found with the extinct DNA mixed in as well. Found that weird. The discovery took place before this book was published.


The Luck of the Ammonites
This chapter is about the establishment of the (meteor) Impact theory in science.
Some of my favorite quotes were from this chapter:

#1
Basically, if you were a triceratops in Alberta, you had about two minutes before you got vaporized

#2
The uncoiled shells of species like Eubaculites carinatus indicated that the group had exhausted its practical possibilities and entered some sort of decadent, Lady Gaga-ish phase


Welcome to the Anthropocene
Among other things, this chapter deals with the theories behind minor (mass) extinctions, rats inheriting the world, and naming this age Anthropocene.
The inclusion of naked mole rats made it one of my favorite chapters.

The Sea Around Us
The chapter starts discussion on the acidification of the oceans. Made me feel like if the global warming didn't get us, acidification definitely will!

Dropping Acid
The coral reefs are dying off at an alarming speed. An inscription about a patch that is being researched upon, DK-13, says it all, "DK-13: NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM.
The research station on One Tree Island has been home to many research teams. They all leave their mark on its walls:
THE CRAB CREW: CLAWS FOR A CAUSE - 2005


The Forest and the Trees
Dr. Silman and his team has been researching the effect of elevation (and indirectly climate) on the vegetation.
The quote that stuck with me:
The sun was out, but it had recently rained, and clusters of black and red and blue butterflies hovered over the puddles. Occasionally, a truck rumbled by, loaded down with logs. The butterflies couldn't scatter fast enough, so the road was littered with severed wings.


Islands on Dry Land
Formed in a Brazilian province, Reserve 1202 is a study of land fragmentation that has become a landmark of our anthropocentric world. It amazed me how scientists come and leave the Reserve and research goes on even today.

The New Panagaea
Bat die-off has struck. It begins with a white spot on their little noses that is actually a fungus called Geomyces destructans. It was not a natural part of the area of the world that it struck upon. This was the quote that stayed with me:
During any twenty-four-peropd, it is estimated that ten thousand different species are being moved around the world just in ballast water.


The Rhino Gets an Ultrasound
One of the handful Sumatran rhinos left is given an ultrasound after a failed attempt at artificial insemination.
The megafauna strategy used to be a winning one: grow to mammoth sizes (literally in some cases) to escape predation but trade off by reproducing once in a lifetime. Then humans came and the rules changed!

The Madness Gene
The Neanderthals were doing fine until they came into contact with modern humans.

The Thing With Feathers
The exceedingly rare Hawaiian crow features in this chapter. This one is called Kinohi and it has a tragicomic sex life.

I liked the way the author chose to end this book. Humans are agents of change and she chose to focus on that rather than making us out as the bad guys who only make species go extinct. We exist, therefore, we bring change.

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Reading Progress

March 15, 2015 – Shelved
October 30, 2015 – Started Reading
October 30, 2015 –
16.0%
October 31, 2015 –
23.0%
November 4, 2015 –
38.0%
November 10, 2015 –
57.0%
November 23, 2015 – Finished Reading

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