Extinct Madagascar: Picturing The Island's Past

Hardcover | September 4, 2014

bySteven M. Goodman, William L. JungersIllustratorVelizar Simeonovski

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The landscapes of Madagascar have long delighted zoologists, who have discovered, in and among the island’s baobab trees and thickets, a dizzying array of animals, including something approaching one hundred species of lemur. Madagascar’s 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 years—a period associated with natural climatic shifts and ecological change, as well as partially coinciding with the arrival of the island’s first human settlers—a considerable proportion of Madagascar’s 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 Simeonovski’s beautiful and haunting digital paintings—images of both individual species and ecosystem assemblages reproduced here in full color—Goodman and Jungers reconstruct the lives of these lost animals and trace their relationships to those still living.

Published in conjunction with an exhibition of Simeonovski’s artwork set to open at the Field Museum, Chicago, in the fall of 2014, Goodman and Jungers’s 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 Madagascar’s biodiversity and a catalyst for further research and conservation.

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The landscapes of Madagascar have long delighted zoologists, who have discovered, in and among the island’s baobab trees and thickets, a dizzying array of animals, including something approaching one hundred species of lemur. Madagascar’s mammal fauna, for example, is far more diverse, and more endemic, than early explorers and natural...

Steven M. Goodman is the MacArthur Field Biologist at the Field Museum, Chicago, and based in Antananarivo, Madagascar. He is coeditor of The Natural History of Madagascar and Atlas of Selected Land Vertebrates of Madagascar, the former published and the latter distributed by the University of Chicago Press. William L. Jungers is disti...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:296 pages, 11 × 8.5 × 1 inPublished:September 4, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022614397X

ISBN - 13:9780226143972


Extra Content

Table of Contents



PART 1: Madagascar in Perspective: Past and Present



            Aspects of Format

            The Artist

Geological Time, Dates, and Radiocarbon Dating

            What Is a Subfossil?

            The Types of Subfossil Sites

An Overview of the Origins, Geology, Animal Colonization, and Modern Habitats of Madagascar

            Madagascar in Deep Time—Isolation and Origin of Its Plants and Animals

            History of Animal Colonization



            Vegetational Patterns

                        Humid Forest

                        Dry Deciduous Forest

                        Spiny Bush

                        Savanna and Grassland Formations

A Brief History of Climatic Change on Madagascar since the Late Pleistocene

History of Human Colonization of Madagascar

            Considerations of Language and Different Types of Introductions

            The Human Genetic Evidence           

            Evidence of Pre-Iron Age Colonization of Madagascar

            The Archaeological Record of Occupation and Settlement

            Paleontological and Paleoecological Evidence


Human Interactions with Now-Extinct Land Vertebrates




                        Elephant Birds




Hypotheses on What Caused the Extinctions during the Holocene

Extinction, Conservation, and the Future

PART 2: Case Studies

Geographical Plates

Plate 1: Cap Sainte Marie—the Ecology of Elephant Birds and Their Interface with Humans

Plate 2: Andrahomana I—the Ecology of Extreme Southeastern Madagascar and a Barometer of Change

Plate 3: Andrahomana II—Evidence of a Holocene Tsunami in the Southern Indian Ocean and Predator-Prey Relations

Plate 4: Tsimanampetsotsa—Rapid Ecological Shifts in the Face of Natural Climate Change

Plate 5: Taolambiby—Hypotheses Associated with Animal Extinction and Hunting by Humans: Physical Evidence and Interpretation

Plate 6: Ankilitelo—a Deep Pit Cave and Inferences on Recent Ecological and Faunal Change

Plate 7: Ampoza I—Reconstruction of the Ecology and Fauna in a Formerly Permanent Riverine Habitat in the Southwest

Plate 8: Ampoza II—Ecological Change in a Forest Community and Connecting Humid Forest Corridors to the Eastern Portion of the Island

Plate 9: Belo sur Mer—a Window into Different Hypotheses Associated with Environmental Change: Natural versus Human-Induced

Plate 10: Mananjary—the Former Estuary System of Eastern Lowland Madagascar and Some of Its Faunal Elements

Plate 11: Antsirabe Region—Ecology of Highland Marsh and Forest Habitats as a Measure of Change through Time

Plate 12: Ampasambazimba—Reconstruction of a Montane Woodland Habitat that No Longer Occurs on the Island

Plate 13: Anjohibe I—Secrets of the Past Disclosed by Careful Study of Subfossil Bone and Pollen in a Cave

Plate 14: Anjohibe II—Inferences Based on Cave Remains and Aspects of the Organisms Living in the Adjacent Ecosystem

Plate 15: Anjajavy—a Trapdoor Cave, Ecology of an Extinct Lemur, and Untold Extinct and Extant Biodiversity

Plate 16: Ankarana I—Ecological Change of a Forest Community, a View from the Ground Up

Plate 17: Ankarana II—Ecological Change of a Forest Community, a Bird’s-Eye View from the Forest Canopy

Plate 18: Ankarana III—Tragedy and How the Bone Remains of an Extinct Lemur Can Help Piece Together How It Lived and the Former Local Forest Ecology

Species Plates

Plate 19: Cryptoprocta spelea—an Extinct Mega-Predator and Aspects of How It May Have Lived and Hunted

Plate 20: Stephanoaetus mahery—a Presumed Primate Specialist and Its Role in the Evolution of Behavioral Aspects of Living and Extinct Lemurs


Index to Malagasy Place-Names

Index to Scientific Names


Editorial Reviews

“An authoritative and fascinating exploration of one of Nature's greatest evolutionary experiments.”