Has a species known about its own extinction, and did the species go extinct? If this has never happened, why do humans make the effort to avoid extinction if they don't know how it will actually happen?

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    $\begingroup$ Dinosaurs - they saw the asteroid coming and was like, "we are go.... $\endgroup$
    – NuWin
    Oct 18, 2016 at 3:07
  • $\begingroup$ hanwen, did you mean know about their own extinction, or that we knew they were going to go extinct? $\endgroup$
    – Durakken
    Oct 18, 2016 at 4:32
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    $\begingroup$ There was that species of intelligent dinosaurs in the late Cretaceous, who wrote extensively about their own impending extinction and how future intelligent species might avoid a similar fate. Unfortunately, subsequent geological processes turned all their libraries into coal. $\endgroup$ Oct 18, 2016 at 6:27
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    $\begingroup$ Approximately 99.8% of all species that have existed in the 4.5 billion year history of the Earth has gone extinct. If any of those were aware of their extinction is probably not likely. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Oct 18, 2016 at 6:54
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    $\begingroup$ Obligatory: 1, 2, and 3;  related: 4 and 5. $\endgroup$ Oct 18, 2016 at 7:22

4 Answers 4



The question is just how many species do we know are sentient enough to figure out they are dwindling and then do something openly about it? Do whales know they are endangered? Do elephants know they are threatened? I don't really know, maybe they do, maybe they don't, they can't tell us! We humans can see what's happening to the world around us, look back into the past and figure out what happened, get together in organised learning groups (aka research), draw our conclusions and modify our way of living accordingly. No other species is as yet capable of this.

Our planet has a long history with five major extinction events and numerous minor extinctions. As rational scientific people, we humans do know that we are part of the whole and subject to the same natural laws as the rest of our planet. So you could say we're the species that is aware that we cannot last forever. We haven't become extinct yet though :)

The only comparable sentient 'species' that are no longer here might be Neandertals, Denisovans or other ancient homonids. We don't know what they knew or thought but it is safe to assume they were more occupied with the nitty-gritties of their daily lives rather than taking census and counting numbers.

Somewhat loosely comparable may be the various Aboriginal and traditional communities around the world that can see their culture, languages and lifestyles vanishing for good. Their plight can be heart-breaking indeed.


I will give an attempt to roll with the question, but basicly it is not Worldbuilding topic in the starter phrasing.

So would it happen that human race can not monitor a species, that specific species is about to extinct, and - as the current trend continues - it actually is going to extinct? YES.
Just think about deep sea creatures, we have no technology to monitor, register, ID all the deep see creatures, and will have no proper way and/or gear to prevent extinction. Regardless of human capabilities, exctintion in a natural process.

Preventive actions in general requires effort, and to be succesful it needs to be well planned, and refined. There is no 100% succesful action starting out of nothing...so it needs to begin somewhere, just like a field of technology, research, or any human knowledge branch. It is easy to find succesful acts to preserve species around the globe, so we own the chance to counter the natural process.

To sum it up: If we know the event, have technology and sources, we can prevent natural extinction.

On the other hand, self-preservation is an instinct that works in humans also, and can't blame them if they want to be aware. Maybe it did not come up so far, but the process undoubtly has revealed several research topics, which are in the end contributed to collective science.

So fearing (but not panicking) something that did not so far came, lead us for better understanding the environment we live in, and through this we recieved possibility to live in harmony with other species and even to employ balancement in population changes. I can't think of that as wrong to do.


This is sort of a confusing question because it touches on the concept of awareness in other species.

I interpret your use of the word 'aware' to imply sentient. I think that you have to be sentient to have a concept of the species to which you belong (as opposed to a family, a concept that dogs clearly have). In that case, there is no evidence that there was ever another sentient race on earth, so the answer to your question is no.


Just a shot in the dark, but on the chance there's a language issue here, perhaps what the question means to say is, "Have we (humans) predicted a species was about to die out, and if so, did we try to prevent it somehow?"

If that's what you mean, then yes, we've seen extinctions coming ahead of time. There's many factors that can go into a species dying out; for starters, I would suggest you check out some of the terminology on this page, and from there you can look at individual cases.


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