I was asked this recently by my 4 year old. It is amazing what he comes back with from school.
I set off to explain extinction – how there used to be animals and plants that are no longer here. Cats, birds, insects, flowers (for those of us who are not up on our extinction history: the Dodo was a flightless, large bird that lived on Mauirtius in the Indian Ocean. It never needed to fly as it had no natural predators….until humans came along).
I came across two great online resources that my son really enjoyed. Both are educational & entertaining. The first is a magical project recently completed by Maya Lin called “What is Missing?”. You can hear the sounds of dozens of animals that are now extinct. My son’s favorite is the humpback whale (which got us talking about the Crosby, Stills & Nash song, To The Last Whale).
There is a also an internet ‘clock’ that keeps track of cumulative extinctions (of course there is!)….helps put it in perspective a bit…..it was 25,611 on Monday and was 25,775 by Wednesday (go to the environment link here).: