March 13, 2006


The Stephens Island Wren may have been the only passerine bird entirely incapable of flight. In any case, its flightlessness evolved during its long residence on the island, where there were not enough threats to make the ability to fly worth retaining. Once people settled the island to the extent of building a lighthouse there, the species was both discovered and exterminated by the lighthouse keeper's cat, Tibbles, whose kills supplied the specimens that are found today in several collections around the world.
--Murray Gell-mann, from the afterword to Fred Bodsworth's Last of the Curlews. Posted by Dr. Frank at March 13, 2006 06:54 AM | TrackBack

Wow, that sounds like a cat's dream of a lifetime come true,exterminating a whole species and being considered the biggest threat around...

Posted by: sara at March 13, 2006 10:31 AM

Loved it.

Posted by: Javier at March 13, 2006 01:15 PM

"Murray Gell-mann"

"Gell-Mann," actually. What can I say, some people follow rock bands, and some follow famous physicists. But he named the freaking quark!

Posted by: Gary Farber at March 19, 2006 04:10 AM