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78. Terrible Tibbles

08 Apr

FACT: Cats are scary creatures.

In 1894, Lyall, a lighthouse keeper was sent to Stephens Island, a small island (2.6 km²) just south of New Zealand. With Lyall went Tibbles, whom I shall hence forth refer to as Tibbles the Destroyer.

Now, Tibbles the Destroyer started out small and standard, he roamed around slowly and became accustomed,then he made the small island his hunting ground and began a short reign of terror, catching for his master a great deal of local fauna, especially a peculiar bird which his master had never seen before.

After seeing a handful of the birds Lyall shared the news with his good friend, a Mr Henry Tavers. News spread and by the time that the Destoryerhad ensnared eleven more birds the news came to the attention of Sir Walter Buller, New Zealand’s Ornithological expert. After examining the pristine corpses (The Destoyer only kills, he never consumes), he confirmed the birds were a totally new species and were indeed members of the wren family. He sent news off to the British Ornithological Institute and prepared.

More research would have been carried out, were it not for the continued efforts on the part of the aforementioned cat tyrant.

For you see, the wren was special in that it was a flightless bird, in fact one of only three flightless songbirds we have ever known of in the whole of history, they were an easy catch and were crushed under the tyrannic reign of Tibbles. By the end of 1894, the year in which Tibbles had arrived, they were extinct. Within one year Tibble destroyed a species.

So effective was his eradication that the Christchurch report noted that:

“…there is very good reason to believe that the bird is no longer to be found on this islands, as it is not known to exist anywhere else, it has apparently become quite extinct. This is probably a record performance in the way of extermination.”

Now you know of Tibbles the Destroyer and the flightless birds who subsequently became, ‘quite extinct’.

To this very day, Tibbles is the only individual of any species to have single-handedly destroyed a whole species.

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Posted by on April 8, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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