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                  Leaping Lizards

 In the order of Archaeopterygiformes is the family Achaeopteryx and the only known representative of its family is the species Archaeopteryx Lithographica.

All that is known of Archaeopteryx is that it had feathers, everything else is hypothetical because of extinction.

Its 150 million year old fossilized remains mark the beginning of the avian evolution, a reptile that could fly is the honorary bird of the week this week.


Paleontology is Bubba's department.  I reluctantly asked him about the extinct

Archaeopteryx, knowing full well it would trigger one of his diatribes on the subject.

He said, "Extinction on the planet is and has been a fact of life, or death, you might say, since time began.  Some say its simply proof of failure to adapt with change, but change itself can also be credited with the cause of extinction.

It is estimated that there have been 50 billion species of plants and animals on this planet since life began.  Currently there are 50 million.  That means that for every thousand species that has ever existed on the planet only one remains today. These extinct species didn't just slowly disappear over the ages naturally,  The New York Times Science Report, February 1997 explains that evidence from deep sea probing indicates 65 million years ago a gargantuan asteroid slammed into earth leaving evidence of the crater under the Golf of Mexico.  Known as Chicxulub, it is found off the coast of Florida near Cuba and extends to the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula near Belize. The arrival of this asteroid was a catastrophically swift end to the age of dinosaurs and is responsible for the rapid extinction of the majority of species alive on the planet. What's left today is .01% of what existed in the past." See what I mean.  Bubba is always good for that sort of information. Recently Howell & Webb, in A Guide to Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America, have published a list of new members to the extinction club.  They have found the reasons for their extinction to have a common bond, but nothing to do with asteroids.

            1.  Socorro Dove, Zenaida gray soni, last reported 1958, formerly a

common resident on Isla Socorro, Islas Revillagigedo.  This species apparently vanished between 1958 and 1978, presumably due to cat predation in conjunction with human settlement of the island in 1957.

            2.  Imperial Woodpecker, Campehilus Imperialis, presumed extinct.  Last

reported 1956, demise apparently due to human hunting for food, in combination with  habitat loss.  The largest woodpecker in the world.

            3.   Slender Billed Grackle, Quiscalus Palustris, extinct.  Last recorded

1910.  Demise likely due to habitat loss.

            4.  Guadalupe Storm Petrel, Oceanodroma Macrodactyla, presumed

extinct.  Last reported 1912 -Davidson.  Demise considered due to feral cat (domestic cats gone wild) predation.

            5.         Passenger Pigeon, Ectopistes Migratovius, extinct.  Last recorded

in wild in 1900.  Demise due to habitat destruction and over hunting.