Of all living creatures man is the most dangerous— to everything else that lives as well as to himself.
Joseph Wood Krutch 1
Nineteenth-century science laid most of the foundations of scientific understanding. It measured the speed of light. It discovered most of the universe's elements. It deduced the workings of natural selection. What a great time to be a scientist!
One of the monumental discoveries of nineteenth-century science lies virtually unsung in the subterranean foundations of twenty-first-century ecology. Species become extinct.
The discovery of extinction began in the late eighteenth century when scientists uncovered the bones and shells and leaves of life-forms that no one had ever seen alive. It was exciting stuff. Even Thomas Jefferson participated. He devoted an entire room of Monticello to his private collection of fossils, and he contributed whole boxes of specimens to the Peale Museum in Philadelphia, first in the nation to exhibit fossils scientifically.
But so what if fossils are real? That doesn't prove extinctions ever happened!
For a long time, the clergy argued with scientists about what fossils actually mean. Many scientists equated fossils with extinctions. But the