Lessons from those we've lost


A data visualization exploring over a century of extinction.

While we battle to save Black Rhinos, Hawksbill Turtles and Mountain Gorillas, what can we learn from those that have already gone? What can the legacy of Schomburgk's Deer, the Paradise Parrot and Lonesome George teach us about the nature of extinction in the time of humans? Can we identify the destructive forces of the past century, and how do they compare to the challenges that lie ahead? 

This data visualization looks to explore and answer these questions, offering a reflection on over a century of extinction. Let’s conjure these lost creatures back into our minds for a moment to try and understand what took them past that most final of thresholds.

The most comprehensive source for this information is the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). For the past 50 years, the IUCN has been promoting the conservation of animals through their pioneering research, and categorizing every species studied to determine their relative risk of extinction, from ‘Least Concern’ all the way through to the already ‘Extinct’. It is through their work that this visualization navigates the topic of extinction.

Of the 46,092 Chordates that the IUCN have studied, 362 of those are listed as extinct. Out of those, many fall outside of the criteria for this project, because they have an Effective Extinction Date (EED) before 1900. Others have too much ambiguity around the EED, or are too lacking in reliable information about the the threats affecting them, and so are impossible to place within the structure of the data visualization. 120 animals remain, and these lost species form the data set. 

What will they reveal?


See the high res version of the data visualization here.

See the high res version of the data visualization here​​​​​​​


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