Dodo habitat - Re: Nominee for best post

Ron Gatrelle gatrelle at
Fri Jan 12 13:54:56 EST 2001

Chris, this is one of the best (balanced) posts on this type of subject
matter I have seen. Congratulation. You've said it all, so no need for me
to be redundant. Ron
----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris J. Durden" <drdn at>
To: <leps-l at>
Sent: Friday, January 12, 2001 11:32 AM
Subject: Dodo habitat - Re: Nominee for best post
> I agree with Mark that John Shuey's presentation of the evidence or lack
> evidence for extinction by collecting is an excellent post.
>     There is a truly disturbing idea behind this. I think of it as a
> variant of the "Paradox of the Elgin Marbles". In that type case a
> man of wealth and power removed some of the better priceless artifacts of
> our human heritage, brought them inside and made them available to public
> view in a more stable setting. The artifacts he left behind in situ were
> neglected and deteriorated under conditions of increasing acid rain to a
> shadow of their former glory. Enter politics and we have the country of
> origin attempting a legal repatriation of their cultural patrimony.
>     This thinking has been carried to intellectually harmful extremes in
> the cultural objects repatriation legislation of a large number of
> countries. We have scenarios like the efforts to reclaim and re-bury the
> remains of "Kennewick Man" as an ancestral native tribal person thus
> preventing any efforts through future technology to determine just how
> individual was related to the surviving tribal peoples.
>     This thinking has been stretched by some governments to consider
> wildlife, including both fauna and flora and now all genetic material as
> cultural or even national patrimony and regulate all this natural
> found within their territory. The results are restrictions that limit or
> prohibit the study of these organisms and fuel political efforts to
> the repatriation of samples now kept in other countries. Do we really
> all the types documenting the discovery and description of new species to
> return to their countries of origin? Should the feathered cape of
> be returned to Mexico from Vienna? Should the flag that fell with the
> be returned to Texas from Mexico? Should the New Jersey specimens of
> Mitchell's Satyr be rounded up and returned to New Jersey?
>     Perhaps the collector of the long series of Mitchell's Satyr, now
> deposited for open scientific access in the American Museum of Natural
> History, was aware  of the decline of their habitat and the hopeless
> prospects of these populations for the future. He (I assume it was BZ)
> obviously not "of the stamp collector mentality" as he saved not just the
> perfect specimens but also the "rags" for future study.
>     How many among us have engaged in salvage collecting of a doomed
> population in order to preserve some dead evidence of a former population
> for future research. How many have engaged in "scorched earth" collecting
> to snatch a sample of a cherished natural community  from in front of the
> bulldozers?
>     We should by all means do our very best to obtain the setting aside
> reserves for the preservation of living communities of wildlife. However
> when the economic and political pressures of our world commitment to
> "growth" condemn these pocket relicts of primordial wilderness we should
> least salvage their remains and save the shells of the once living for
> future study. Having seen what remains of the Dodo in the Oxford Museum I
> am sorry we have not done a better job of sampling our vanishing biota.
> ..................Chris Durden
> At 05:28 PM 1/11/2001 -0500, you wrote:
> >Speaking of quality and non-quality posts (were we?), here is my
> >for best post of Y2K.  This one was from John Shuey and represents
> >everything that is good in LEPS-L. It provides good evidence of the true
> >benefit from open dialogue between all participants - even in posts that
> >longer than a paragraph.  IMO, posts like these should be required
> >
> >Sorry for all the indentations.  Try to read around them, and enjoy.
> >
> >Mark Walker
> >enjoying the rain in Oceanside, CA
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