"Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach, it points." ~D.T. Suzuki

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Goodbye Lonesome George

Requiem for a Tortoise

Galapagos "Ambassador"

Lonesome George

(1912? - 2012)
Epilogue on Pinta Island Tortoises

There have been many Lonesome Georges in natural history. Extinction has always been a part of life on Earth. Right now, there are others still hanging on, soon to be gone. Perhaps today, or rather its more like...What time is?

We pay attention to this particular death because of its fame. It gets its fame from 2 things. 1) Although his sub-species was thought extinct, George was found in 1972. He is believed to be the last of his kind. 2) The Galapagos Tortoises were one of the kinds of animals that apparently inspired Charles Darwin's thoughts on his theory during his HMS Beagle voyage.

That's why its news. So we know about and can feel loss at Lonesome George's passing. But we are displacing (a gentle way of saying driving to oblivion) many species everyday. Both by direct and indirect actions. For example, the global warming we contribute to is just one human cause. Population and consumption being others. We crowd out, hunt down and do much more to many other species.

And none of this is going to stop anytime soon, by the way.
Lonesome George Dies
June 25 2012
RIP Lonesome George
The Last Pinta Island Giant Tortoise

George hatched  ~ 50 years after the publication of
On the Origins of Species. His sub-species is no more.
End of the line for this branch on the tree of life.

Perhaps the last video of George June 6 2012
What Darwin and natural history have shown us is that all individuals and eventually species, die. George's remains will undergo an autopsy to look for the cause of death. You see George died young. 100 years young. His kind has a life expectancy of 200 years. So his life was, in this sense, cut in half. What I find particularly sad is the unspoken realization that despite our good intentions, in one way or another we were likely responsible for his death. I think we should accept that. But we can also learn a lesson from his passing into history.

Although there are still other sub-species of giant tortoise. The extinction of this one stands out as a reminder of Darwin's Theory. The world and life on it are an ecological system and inter-connected. The rate of extinctions and loss of bio-diversity in the world are ecological pressures against our own survival. If we wish to stick around in long run, we will have to manage ourselves taking that into account and acting accordingly. Not to do so would court our own extinction sooner rather than later. Let me point one thing out . While there are many of us as individuals... (on what was once a many species limb of our evolutionary family tree) we are today, the very youngest but last and only existing species of Hominids. In evolutionary terms... That's dicey. What it means is, if anything happens to us...That's it. It's the end of our line. Insert Porky Pig voice here: That's all folks.

Perhaps due to their long life span tortoises have traditionally been associated with wisdom. The mystery for us to solve is if we merit our taxonomic classification as the "sapiens" ones.
Goodbye George.
© 2012 MU-Peter Shimon.

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