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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

A Gap in Nature


Carolina Parakeet

Passenger Pigeon

Great Auk

Lesser Stick Nest Rat

Stephen’s Island Wren


Atitlán Grebe


A Gap in Nature

Extinction is forever they say, but according to the World Conservation Union's 2002 list of threatened species, two creatures have made the rare journey back from the apparently dead. These so-called “Lazarus species” are the Bavarian pine vole from Germany and the Lord Howe Island stick insect from Australia. Tiny populations of each of these critters evaded detection for decades before their recent rediscovery.

But usually, once an animal is listed extinct, it stays that way. Author Tim Flannery decided to write about some of the animals that have gone extinct in the past 500 years. To do so, he went to museums around the world to find what were sometimes that last specimen of an animal, and to try to discover why they went extinct. He collected these stories in his book, “A Gap in Nature,” and recorded some of them for Living on Earth. This week, Living on Earth Today will feature Flannery's work, along with illustrations by Peter Schouten.
Click here to listen to an interview with Tim Flannery.

Guadeloupe Carcara (top)
Pig-Footed Bandicott (middle)
Martinique Giant Rice Rat (bottom)

(All illustrations by Peter Schouten)

Audio Features

Hear the story of the Guadeloupe Caracara and its extinction.

Hear the story of the Pig-Footed Bandicott and its extinction.

Hear the story of the Martinique Giant Rice Rat and its extinction.

Hear the story of the Thylacine and its extinction.

Hear the story of the Carolina Parakeet and its extinction.

Hear the story of the Passenger Pigeon and its extinction.

Hear the story of the Great Auk and its extinction.

Hear the story of the Lesser Stick Nest Rat and its extinction.

Hear the story of the Stephen’s Island Wren and its extinction.

Hear the story of the Dodo and its extinction.

Hear the story of the Atitlán Grebe and its extinction.      

Listen to the call of an Atitlán Grebe.

Hear the story of the Mamo and its extinction.

To hear the stories of all the animals, click here.

A Gap in Nature Links:
More about the great auk, including photos
See a stuffed lesser stick nest rat
The Thylacine Museum
See a photo of Benjamin, the last thylacine
See a photo of the last passenger pigeon


Buy “A Gap in Nature” by Tim Flannery & Peter Schouten


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