Fables for the Anthropocene

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Lydia Pyne

An endling is the last known individual of a species; when that individual dies, the species becomes extinct. These “last individuals” are poignant characters in the stories that humans tell themselves about today’s Anthropocene. In this evocative work, Lydia Pyne explores how discussion about endlings—how we tell their histories—draws on deep traditions of storytelling across a variety of narrative types that go well beyond the science of these species’ biology or their evolutionary history.

Endlings provides a useful and thoughtful discussion of species concepts: how species start and how (and why) they end, what it means to be a “charismatic” species, the effects of rewilding, and what makes species extinction different in this era. From Benjamin the thylacine to Celia the ibex to Lonesome George the Galápagos tortoise, endlings, Pyne shows, have the power to shape how we think about grief, mourning, and loss amid the world’s sixth mass extinction.

Background photo by Seb Mooze on Unsplash


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    University of Minnesota Press
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    Minneapolis, MN
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    Please see the Creative Commons website for details about the restrictions associated with the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.
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    Endlings: Fables for the Anthropocene by Lydia Pyne is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

    Copyright 2022 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota
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    Regents of the University of Minnesota
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