Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Death ... Extinction ...

An organism develops. Subparts continue to grow even as the whole declines. At some point, by degeneration or by accident, the organism ceases, looses its viability. There's a word for it: death.
Meantime, populations of such organisms, self-similar, able to reproduce, develop: develop and grow, decline. There's a word for them too: species. When species die, there's a word for that as well: extinction. Extinction is the death of all members. No more reproduction, no more such organisms.
Populations of species have names too: genus, family, class, phylum, kingdom: the old KPCFGS concept.
What do we call it when a genus dies? A family? How many genuses or families or classes have already died?

I don't know. But I think we should start thinking of names. I think we're going to start seeing a lot of it: whole symphonies of extinctions: meta-deaths, meta-extinctions.

Of course when I say "we," I'm speaking by extension beyond species, beyond genus ... I certainly don't mean the Homo sapiens will "see" it. I mean that life will see it.

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