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The Missing Lynx

by Ross Barnett

Popular Science The Real World

LoveReading View on The Missing Lynx

An absolutely fascinating and all-consuming read. Step into the past, and look to our future. Ross Barnett shows us some of the mammals that used to call Britain home but have since disappeared from our landscape. He features ten species that are extinct in the UK (and sometimes world), from the Sabretooth Cat, to Grey Wolves. He also discusses whether we could see some of these animals returning. I really enjoyed the tone set by the author. He is a palaeontologist with a PhD in Zoology and specialises in “seeking, analysing and interpreting ancient DNA”. Do take a look at the author section, he clearly knows his stuff, and discusses his thoughts with a straightforward, engaging, and often humorous way. He set my awareness buzzing by stating that we (humans) are usually the reason for extinction, “we can never appreciate what we are losing, even as we are losing it”, “lifespans are so short in comparison to the timescale of the effects that humans have”. Sobering indeed, yet this isn’t an exploration of doom and gloom. It is instead, a celebration of these animals, and an enticing look at what we could have. Backing his thoughts are case studies, beautiful photos, pictures, poetry, and quotations. Chosen as a Liz Pick of the Month, The Missing Lynx is a really special book I can wholeheartedly recommend.


Liz Robinson

The Missing Lynx Synopsis

Britain was a very different place 15,000 years ago - home to lions, lynx, bears, wolves, bison and many more megafauna. But as its climate changed and human populations expanded, most of early Britain's largest mammals disappeared. Will advances in science and technology mean that we can one day bring these mammals back? And should we?

In The Missing Lynx, palaeontologist Ross Barnett uses case studies, new fossil discoveries and biomolecular evidence to paint a picture of these lost species and to explore the ecological significance of their disappearance. He discusses how the Britons these animals shared their lives with might have viewed them and investigates why some species survived while others vanished.

Barnett also looks in detail at the realistic potential of reintroductions, rewilding and even of resurrection in Britain and overseas, from the successful return of beavers in Argyll to the revolutionary Pleistocene Park in Siberia, which has already seen progress in the revival of 'mammoth steppe' grassland.

As widespread habitat destruction, climate change and an ever-growing human population lead us inexorably towards the sixth extinction, this timely book explores the spaces that extinction has left unfilled. And by helping us to understand why some of our most charismatic animals are gone, Ross Barnett encourages us to look to a brighter future, one that might see these missing beasts returned to the land on which they once lived and died.

The Missing Lynx Press Reviews

As elegies go, The Missing Lynx is an awful lot of fun. -- Tom Chivers - The Times

Rewilding is certainly romantic but is it practical or even desirable? It all needs thinking through, and Barnett, who makes a compelling case in favour of the idea, can help. -- Stuart Blackman - BBC Wildlife

Barnett's writing is clear and unobtrusively witty ... And the book is full of cheery, Terry Pratchett-esque footnotes. -- Tom Chivers - The Times

Fresh and assured ... An often moving tribute to lost marvels. -- Barbara Kiser - Nature

His writing is full of admiration for the resourcefulness of Palaeolithic tribespeople - his descriptions of an Ice Age economy that ran on mammoths, and of the mammoth hunts themselves, are evocative. -- Tom Chivers - The Times

A wonderful and haunting book: so rich in detail that the mammals of Britain's past seem brought to life again, and yet so unflinching in its portrayal of the brute facts of extinction that readers will ache for all that has been lost. -- Tom Holland, author and historian With his fast-paced and amusing tales of some of the most awe-inspiring species lost within geologically recent times, The Missing Lynx brings Britain's Ice Age back to life. -- Professor Beth Shapiro, author of How to Clone a Mammoth A fascinating account of the large herbivores and predators that have disappeared from Britain since humans reached our islands. This should be essential reading for those who advocate rewilding. -- Professor Richard Fortey, palaeontologist and author The story of Britain's Ice Age bestiary, told with bittersweet humour, and a clarion call to us all to step up and fight future extinctions. -- Dr Victoria Herridge, evolutionary biologist and presenter Barnett's writing is clear and accessible, and often amusing. -- Megan Shersby - BBC Countryfile

The Missing Lynx, with its copious amounts of information about the lives and extinctions of its subject, leavened with sufficiently frequent witticisms, flippant off-hand remarks, and bits of gallows humor to make such serious subjects sufficiently psychologically palatable so as to allow them to sink in to the minds of its readers and be remembered ... It is most whole-heartedly an enthusiastically recommended to all. -- Johannes E. Riutta - The Well-read Naturalist

The Missing Lynx ... is a fascinating publication by a specialist in analysing and interpreting ancient DNA. ... Packed full of scientific data and detail of fossil discoveries ... it is written with great humour, even cunningly weaving in snatches from literature and film. -- Professor Keith Somerville - talkinghumanities

A cracking read and rather heartbreaking to think about all those megafauna we pushed over the edge. Highly recommended! -- Professor Paul Barett - @NHMdinolab

In short, I absolutely loved this book. It ... weaves together stories of incredible natural history (the amazing ways in which species live or lived), cutting-edge scientific research, and tales from museum storerooms, as well as positive insight into environmental conservation. Never have I seen footnotes so well utilised to add real story, detail and humour. -- Jack Ashby - Natural Sciences Collections Association

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781472957351
Publication date: 23/07/2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury Wildlife an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781472957351
Publication date: 23rd July 2020
Author: Ross Barnett
Publisher: Bloomsbury Wildlife an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 352 pages
Genres: Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month, Popular Science, The Real World,
Collections: Green Reads - Books to Help You Save the Planet,
Categories: Natural history,

About Ross Barnett

Ross Barnett is a palaeontologist with a PhD in Zoology from the University of Oxford. He specialises in seeking, analysing and interpreting ancient DNA, but his area of expertise is the genetics and phylogeny of cats, especially extinct sabretooths. Barnett's research has led to many remarkable findings in recent years and involved investigating escaped lynx in Edwardian Devon, rubbishing claims that the yeti is an ice-age polar bear and seeking the ancestral home of the enigmatic Orkney vole. In 2018, he received the Palaeontological Association's Gertrude Elles Award for Public Engagement. Ross lives in the Highlands of Scotland with his wife ...

More About Ross Barnett

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