Extinct Madagascar: Picturing the Island's Past
by Steven M. Goodman
The landscapes of Madagascar have long delighted zoologists, who have discovered, in and among the islandís baobab trees and thickets, a dizzying array of animals, including something approaching one hundred species of lemur. Madagascarís mammal fauna, for example, is far more diverse, and more endemic, than early explorers and naturalists ever dreamed of. But in the past 2,500 or so yearsóa period associated with natural climatic shifts and ecological change, as well as partially coinciding with the arrival of the islandís first human settlersóa considerable proportion of Madagascarís forests have disappeared; and in the wake of this loss, a number of species unique to Madagascar have vanished forever into extinction.
In Extinct Madagascar, noted scientists Steven M. Goodman and William L. Jungers explore the recent past of these land animal extinctions. Beginning with an introduction to the geologic and ecological history of Madagascar that provides context for the evolution, diversification, and, in some cases, rapid decline of the Malagasy fauna, Goodman and Jungers then seek to recapture these extinct mammals in their environs. Aided in their quest by artist Velizar Simeonovskiís beautiful and haunting digital paintingsóimages of both individual species and ecosystem assemblages reproduced here in full coloróGoodman and Jungers reconstruct the lives of these lost animals and trace their relationships to those still living.
Published in conjunction with an exhibition of Simeonovskiís artwork set to open at the Field Museum, Chicago, in the fall of 2014, Goodman and Jungersís awe-inspiring book will serve not only as a sobering reminder of the very real threat of extinction, but also as a stunning tribute to Madagascarís biodiversity and a catalyst for further research and conservation.