Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#StevesLibrary: The Sixth Extinction – An Unnatural History

This book features two design elements that market it pretty well towards me, that is lots of green and a frog on the cover! I was familiar with the author as I also own her earlier work ‘Field Notes from a Catastrophe‘. Like most books I’ve read in recent times, this one made an impact not only on how I think but also how I act. The Sixth Extinction was one of the handful of books that I took with me when I visited Malaysia in 2015 as something to read on the flight or during the long car rides. In the book, Elizabeth Kolbert chronicles previous mass extinction events, and compares them to the accelerated, widespread extinctions during our present time. By doing this she provides evidence for the Anthropocene, the mass extinction that we as a species are creating based on our globalised activities.

The book opens with the species of frog that features on the cover, the Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki). The species is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List due to the huge population declines seen in the species caused by such agents as the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). Thankfully now a number of captive populations exist around the world but the threat of the fungus still exists in the wild so it’s not known when the frogs will be released. It’s not just frogs that the book covers, Kolbert explores every corner of the animal kingdom in order to provide a complete synopsis of the destruction we are causing. I’d highly recommend it the book to anyone who is interested in the impacts we are having as a species, to the rest of the natural world.



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