|Leaping Hare Press|
27 April 2021
My thanks to the publishers and Alison Menzies PR for my copy of this book
Inspired by his childhood obsession with extinct species, Michael Blencowe takes us around the globe from the forests of New Zealand to the ferries of Finland, from the urban sprawl of San Francisco to an inflatable crocodile on Brighton’s Widewater lagoon.
Spanning five centuries from the last sighting of New Zealand’s Upland Moa to the death of Lonesome George, the Pinta Island Giant Tortoise in 2012, his memoir is peppered with the accounts of the hunters and naturalists of the past as well as revealing conversations with the custodians of these totemic animals today. With charm and insight he reveals what made these species unique; what their habits and habitats were; who discovered (or killed) them; what remains of them; and where we can view what survives of them today.
He inspects the only known remains of a Huia egg at Te Papa, New Zealand; views hundreds of specimens of deceased Galapagos tortoises and Xerces Blue Butterflies in the California Academy of Sciences; and pays his respects to the only soft tissue remains of the Dodo in the world.
|Xerces Blue Butterfly|
📖 My Thoughts..
Whenever I read about creatures who are no longer with us I realise just how transitory is our time on earth when whole species can be wiped out, especially as our surviving knowledge comes largely from those who hunted them to extinction in the first place. I'm thinking of those who travelled the globe discovering such rarities as giant tortoises in the Galápagos, the majestic Dodo bird in Mauritius or in the midst of the American gold rush, the stunning Xerces Blue butterflies of San Francisco.
The book is divided into easy to enjoy sections, not filled with interminable references that you need a reference book to look up, but more about the homely nature of each creature, the places they made their home, the people who found them, the reasons for their extinction, and also about the custodians who look after, so carefully, the little pieces of them which remain.
Here are the creatures you will find in Gone :The Great Auk. Majestic flightless seabird of the North Atlantic and the ‘original penguin’.
The Spectacled Cormorant. The ‘ludicrous bird’ from the remote islands of the Bering Sea.
Steller’s Sea Cow. An incredible ten tonne dugong with skin as furrowed as oak bark.
Upland Moa. The improbable birds and the one time rulers of New Zealand.
Huia. The unique bird with two beaks and twelve precious tail feathers.
South Island Kōkako. The ‘orange-wattled crow’, New Zealand’s elusive Grey Ghost
Xerces Blue. The gossamer-winged butterfly of the San Francisco sand dunes.The Pinta Island Tortoise. The slow-moving, long-lived giant of the Galápagos Islands.
Dodo. The superstar of extinction.
Schomburgk’s Deer. A mysterious deer from the wide floodplains of central Thailand.
Ivell’s Sea Anemone. A see-through sea creature known only from southern England.
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