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「從嘟嘟鳥看生物滅絕」- A Dodo's Guide to Extinction


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Although the Dodo was the poster-boy of extinction, it took a hundred years before anyone realized that the Dodo had in fact gone extinct. Extinction as a concept made no sense to anyone. The reasons are twofold. First, it didn't make sense that God would let all his hard work go to waste and let creatures die out. And second, no one imagined the Earth was very old.
雖然嘟嘟鳥是生物滅絕的象徵,卻花了一百年才有人理解嘟嘟鳥事實上已經絕種了。滅絕對任何人來說是沒有道理的一種概念。理由是雙重的。首先,沒道理上帝會讓祂所有的苦工給糟蹋掉,讓生物滅絕。第二,沒有人想像過地球是非常古老的。

In the 1650s, an Irish bishop, James Ussher, looked at who begat whom in the Bible. Using this, he announced that the Earth was less than six thousand years old. Even more precisely, it was created on Sunday, the 23rd of October, 4004 B.C. Even though, technically, Sunday should have been his day off.
在1650年代,一名愛爾蘭主教--James Ussher,研究聖經裡的「誰生了誰」。利用這個,他宣稱地球少於六千歲。甚至更精確一點,它是在西元前4004年十月二十三日星期天創造出的。雖然,嚴格來說,星期天應該是祂的休假日。

The first clue, maybe this was a tiny bit out, came from fossils. For years, people thought fossils had simply fallen from the sky, or were left by the devil. By the end of the 1700s, fossils had become something of an elephant in the room, quite literally when French naturalist Georges Cuvier presented the paper on fossilized elephant bones in the 1790s. He made a controversial claim that one was a jaw of the creature that no longer existed, an animal that was extinct. It turned out to be a mammoth.
第一個線索,可能這有一點點不精確,是從化石來的。多年來,人們認為化石只是從天上掉下來,或是被魔鬼留下的。在十八世紀末期,化石已成為某種人們心知肚明卻刻意迴避的事,當法國博物學家Georges Cuvier在1790年間發表了石化象骨的論文時,這是毫不誇張地。他提出具爭議性的主張,指出那是一個不復存在的生物其下顎,一種絕種的動物。它結果是長毛象。

While many scientists argued that the animals were still around, just they haven't been found alive yet. But Cuvier was adamant, suggesting this and other extinctions were caused by catastrophic events.
雖然許多科學家爭論那些動物還在世,只是他們還沒被發現存活著而已。但Cuvier很堅持,表明這個和其他的生物滅絕是因災難性事件引起的。

By the early 19th century, although extinction had been established, the Bible still held sway. And Noah's Flood was deemed responsible for both extinction and fossils. But again, the Earth suggested otherwise.
在十九世紀早期,雖然絕種概念已經建立,聖經還是有其支配力量。而諾亞的洪水被認為要為絕種及化石兩者負責。但再一次地,地球不這麼表示。

A Scottish physician James Hutton developed the concept of "deep time" and "geology." Now using the power of geology, the estimated age of the Earth spread from thousands, to millions...and finally, thanks to the advent of radioactive dating, we now know that the Earth is about four and a half billion years old.
一名蘇格蘭醫師James Hutton發展出「深層時間」和「地質學」的概念。現在使用地質學的力量,地球的推測年齡從數千年擴展到數百萬年...最後,幸虧有放射性定年法的出現,我們現在知道地球大約四十五億歲。

Then, towards the end of the 20th century, as geologists looked more closely, periods of mass extinction were identified, times when species were dying out at, quite frankly, an alarming rate. It was one of these, however, that gave mammals that big break, and consigned dinosaurs to the Ancient Halls of Natural History Museums.
然後,將近二十世紀末期,當地質學家更仔細地審視,大滅絕的年代經確認出來了,那是物種以,頗直白地說,以驚人速率滅絕的時期。然而,是這些大滅絕其中之一給了哺乳動物重大轉機,且將恐龍託付給自然歷史博物館的古代廳。

Ultimately, this paved the way for we humans to become the dominant animal on Earth. In the course of our ascendancy, we've been responsible for quite a few extinctions ourselves. Of course so was the Dodo. But there's also the Steller's sea cow, extinct within a mere twenty-seven years of its discovery; and the Tasmanian wolf, listed as an endangered species three years after the last one was seen in the wild.
最終,這為我們人類鋪路以成為地球上的優勢動物。在我們佔優勢的過程中,我們自己也對幾次滅絕有所責任。當然嘟嘟鳥也是。但還有斯特拉海牛,在它發現的僅僅二十七年間絕種;還有袋狼,當最後一隻袋狼在原野被看見的三年後列入瀕臨絕種的物種。

Indeed, we are so good at killing animals. It's been suggested that we're actually in the middle of a great period of extinction right now, all of our own making.
沒錯,我們太擅長於殺害動物。有人提出我們現在事實上就在一次大滅絕期間的途中,全都是我們自己造的孽。

As homo sapiens, we are, ourselves, the survivors of several extinctions. And of the last of entire human family, the last of our cousins, the Neanderthals, became extinct around twenty-five thousand years ago.
身為人類,我們自己,是數次滅絕的倖存者。在整個人類家族的末代之中,我們最後的遠親,尼安德塔人,在大約兩萬五千年前絕種。

So if you have learned anything, it's that nothing lasts forever. For the Earth, extinction is a way of life. And there's this statistical certainty that humans too will be extinct one day. It's not a matter of if, just a question of when.
所以如果你已學到任何東西,那就是沒有什麼可以永久留存的。對地球而言,滅絕是一種生命的方式。有個這種統計上的必然性,人類某天也會滅絕的。這不是「如果」的問題,而是「何時」的問題。

  • 「被忽略的明顯事實」- An Elephant In The Room

    By the end of the 1700s, fossils had become something of an elephant in the room...
    在十八世紀末期,化石已成為某種人們心知肚明卻刻意迴避的事...

  • 「不再」- No Longer

    He made a controversial claim that one was a jaw of the creature that no longer existed, an animal that was extinct.
    他提出具爭議性的主張,指出那是一個不復存在的生物其下顎,一種絕種的動物。

  • 「支配、統治、影響」- Hold Sway

    By the early 19th century, although extinction had been established, the Bible still held sway.
    在十九世紀早期,雖然絕種概念已經建立,聖經還是有其支配力量。

  • 「鋪路、作準備」- Pave The Way For

    Ultimately, this paved the way for we humans to become the dominant animal on Earth.
    最終,這為我們人類鋪路以成為地球上的優勢動物。

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