National Geographic

Catching up: A Hundred Years Without Passenger Pigeons, and the Secrets of the Puppet Masters

If you’re looking for something to read this weekend, here are a couple pieces I’ve written in the past few days:

1. Epigenetics are cool. Mind-controlling parasites are cool. Epigenetics+mind-controlling parasites=Very cool. That equation is the subject of my latest column for the New York Times.

2. Tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. In honor of that event, I’ve written a piece for National Geographic News about why its demise still means so much to scientists a century later.

For more on the passenger pigeon, check out this previous post from the Loom, as well as this feature I wrote last year for National Geographic. A number of other writers are also marking tomorrow’s anniversary–for example, Elizabeth Kolbert at the New Yorker,  David Biello at Scientific American, and John Fitzpatrick in the Sunday Review section of the New York Times.

There are 4 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Linda
    September 4, 2014

    Great article! It would be nice to know how the closest living relative (band-tailed pigeon) is doing given that it is a game bird. My dad used to hunt them and told me stories how they were once abundant, too. I rarely encounter them in western forests anymore.

  2. Christa D’Auria
    September 22, 2014

    Passenger pigeons were the wonderful and innocent pigeons in the wildlife as I really know in a fact. Still, I wish that the passenger pigeons would come back in recovery from extinction in future. Only, G-d really knows as our Creator of our Universe in His plan.

  3. Roland
    September 28, 2014

    There is reason to believe the great abundance of passenger pigeons was a transient and freak event caused by the loss of their main predator, the Amerindians, to European diseases after the arrival of Columbus.

  4. Bodhisattva
    October 4, 2014

    The illustrations make me realize they must be closely related to mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) and, as already noted by Linda, the band-tailed pigeon ((Patagioenas fasciata) and possibly other still surviving species.

    Most accounts blame humans alone for their demise though I have also read that an illness, viral I believe it was claimed, was responsible.

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