Dead as a dolphin?
1st April, 2007
Another animal’s gone extinct. But this time it’s one of our most beloved creatures – a dolphin. Malcolm Tait reports on a species loss that is more than just another statistic
Dead as a dodo. It’s a well-worn phrase and we use it for all sorts of things, although rarely when talking about extinction. We’ll use it to describe someone’s career, perhaps, or a fashion that’s passed its sell-by date. There’s something of the vernacular about it: dead as a dodo – you’re finished, mate.
Perhaps it’s because of the origin of the phrase. Lewis Carroll’s tales of Alice introduced the dodo to a reading public that was largely unfamiliar with the bird, and the phrase was coined soon afterwards. Unsurprising, then, that it should carry about it a hint of whimsy, from an association with Carroll’s fantastical works.
It’s all given the dodo a certain status among extinct creatures. When you consider that an estimated 99.9 per cent of the species that have ever appeared on this planet are now gone forever, then the dodo has done rather well to be one of the most famous of them all. Only known about by the Western world since the end of the 16th century, and extinct just a few decades later, its path crossed our own for a very short time. Yet this idiosyncratic creature, with its huge, ungainly beak, bald expressive face and...
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