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Re: Re: Asteroid vs. Dinosaurs [and all other life]]
>Preserve Extinction. One of the concepts that I find difficult to swallow is
>that we should interpt the natural extinction process because the species
>that is causing extinction is h. sapiens. Would we feel the same if it were
>some other species; usula horbilus etc.? Why would we want to create a static
>environment with no extinction?
This argument comes around every so often, but here's my take on it:
First off, while occasionally some species may be driven to extinction by
the actions of another, a great portion of the extinctions in Earth's
history may have abiotic causes (particularly shifting habitats due to
climate change, orogeny, transgression/regression, etc., and the occasional
dropping rock ;-) ).
More importantly, we, as a species, possess certain features which bear on
this topic, namely a conscience and a choice. We can choose *not* to build
a dam or a housing project or an industrial plant over the habitat range of
a species, whereas a bear cannot be expected to choose not to eat a certain
animal or plant.
(Incidentally, many mammalogists consider the grizzly to be a subspecies of
the brown bear, Ursus arctos, so it is not U. a. horribilis and not U.
We have a conscience as well as a choice: we can (and should) feel
responsible about our actions, especially if our actions bring about the
unnecessary death of a species or higher taxon.
>Doesn't extinction play a major role in evolution and speciation?
Of course it does. However, just because we are the elephantids natural
predator (and have been since the H. erectus days) doesn't mean we should
hunt the last two species of Proboscidea to extinction. We have the
technology (i.e., domestication, among others) to make hunting these
My $0.02 on the subject. Now, somebody ask about theropod systematics, or
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Dept. of Geology
University of Maryland
Colege Park, MD 20742