As jigsaws go, this one seems to have been a challenge.
It has dozens of pieces (it’s not clear how many) and only 95% of it even exists. Apparently, it took decades to build and cost a significant amount of money.
If you want to buy it, there is a chance in November at an auction in West Sussex but you’d better have a six-figure sum to spare.
It’s also monumentally sad.
A skeleton of a dodo – that byword for extinction and misfortune – left experts surprised after it was offered for sale. Its owner appears to have collected the pieces from samples of many luckless birds over decades and it’s believed to be the first such skeleton assembled for perhaps 100 years.
The dodo is, without doubt, a pathetic thing. It’s been extinct since the 17th Century, perhaps a century after it was first encountered by humans in its natural environment in Mauritius.
Dodos exist in skeletal form only and only one complete one from a single bird is still around.
There are no definitive images or descriptions of it and no clear agreement about its appearance or behaviour. We’re not even sure why it died out but it’s a fair bet humans are to blame. We’ve got form.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists 3,079 animal species and 2,655 plant species as endangered worldwide. Extinction is a natural process but climate change, agriculture, pollution and general stupidity all contribute to the alarming rate at which species are now vanishing. Those same IUCN numbers in 1998 were 1,102 and 1,197 respectively.
That is deeply depressing.
We can all be agents of change, especially in times of worldwide communications, so it’s worth raising a little awareness about this issue. Everyone can make a contribution, through small lifestyle changes, campaigning or support for wildlife organisations.
Having children, whose capacity to care about environmental issues is astonishing, has taught me this problem is everyone’s problem. That skeleton is an extreme, historical, case but it’s still a sad lesson in lack of human awareness.
The real jigsaw is a lot bigger.