Extinction: The Florida Fairy Shrimp

Fairy shrimp can withstand drying, freezing heat, solidity, outer space. They’re just like waiting for conditions to be right to spring, back to life.

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Tierra Curry: [00:00:00] Oh my goodness. That’s amazing. I love it. Super strong and powerful, and it just captures all the weirdness and complexity of fairy shrimp because they’re such weirdos and they’re so mysterious and you don’t necessarily think of “fairy shrimp” as being tough, but they’re so tough. Like their cysts can live, they can withstand drying, freezing heat, solidity, outer space. They’re just like waiting for conditions to be right to spring, back to life.

Lucas: Hello, and welcome to Making a Monster: Extinction., The bite-sized podcast where we explore the history of species extinct from the real world and retell their stories as Dungeons and Dragons monsters. It’s all a part of Book of Extinction, a monster manual of extinct species resurrected for D&D. I and the team at Mage Hand Press are proud to announce our partnership with the Center for Biological Diversity to protect endangered species by raising money through the first three monsters in the book before it comes to Kickstarter in 2022. The Center directly inspired one of the first entries I wrote for the book through their advocacy for the now extinct Florida fairy shrimp.

One of the scientists who worked on that petition is Tierra Curry. And I asked her to take a look at the monster I came up with and how our artists had rendered it based on some of the earliest advocacy work in her career. This is a story of near misses and perfect timing, more than 10 years in the making.

And I’m so excited to share it. We’ll be taking an exclusive sneak peek at new art from Book of Extinction. So if you want to see what we’re seeing in this interview, you can visit the episode page at scintilla.studio/extinction, or just follow the link in the description.

Tierra Curry: So I’m Tierra Curry. I’m a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, and I direct our Saving Life on Earth campaign, which is a focus campaign to raise awareness of extinction and getting people involved in the fight to end extinction.

Lucas: You know, [00:02:00] I’m a journalist by training and a game designer by choice, and neither of those are conservation scientists, so I’m really grateful to have you on board to keep me on the straight and narrow and make sure that the research that I’ve done matches your experience of the world and this field in particular

Tierra Curry: I think you’re pretty solidly moving into being a bona fide conservationist with all of the advocacy and research that you’re doing. I think you can add that to your title.

Lucas: I will, thank you. I wanted to be there when we talked about the Florida fairy shrimp, because the way that I generated the list of extinct animals that we were going to be using was by just Googling lists of extinct animals and, looking at some and a couple of books on the subject. Then just kind of, you know, what were the ones that showed up every single time? The, the Tasmanian tiger, the passenger pigeon, the Carolina parakeet, those consistently make the top of the list and then kind of working my way down to fill out another 70 to 100 slots.

And one of the ones that came up was your press release on the Florida fairy shrimp and the Florida rainbow snake, which is back in 2011. And it’s kind of, it’s kind of funny in a way you could say that that press release is the whole reason that, we were able to make this partnership happen because I don’t know that I would have, I like to think I would have run into the Center eventually. But I don’t think it would have been nearly as cool if if we didn’t have this.

Tierra Curry: Yeah, I think it’s really cool too. And I’m actually excited that you kind of made this reveal all mysterious because I’ve been in my head this morning. I was like, what’s a Fairy Shrimp going to look like? Which is one of the questions we’ve had about this species all along, right? Like no one has a photo of it. There’s a couple of specimens in jars, so I’m really excited to see it brought to life.

Lucas: Let me paint a picture for you. I wanted the Florida fairy shrimp on the [00:04:00] list and I didn’t start working on it until after I had given a brief to my artist, but it was late October and I suddenly realized just how little we know about the Florida fairy shrimp. And I was trying to figure out how on earth we’re going to do it. I worked on it all day and I got nowhere and I gave up and went to bed. And at 11 o’clock, I had it, I got up, I came back downstairs and I wrote for like three hours and that’s how we got, but we got,

Tierra Curry: Oh, wow. Okay. I see that. I see that The Book of Extinction first page. Should I scroll forward?

Lucas: Yep. There’s 1, 2, 3 others. Before you get to the Florida fairy shrimp, I’m hugely excited about each of these.

Tierra Curry: This is the most words anyone’s written about the Florida fairy shrimp. It’s totally living again through this.

Tierra Curry: Oh my goodness! That’s amazing! I love it! Super strong and powerful, and it just captures all the weirdness and complexity of fairy shrimp because they’re, they’re such weirdos and they’re so mysterious and you don’t necessarily think of fairy shrimp as being tough, but they’re so tough.

Like their cysts can live, they can withstand drying, freezing heat, solidity, outer space. They’re just like waiting for conditions to be right to spring, back to life. And then there they are. And like the, the energy behind this picture totally captures that. It’s just waiting for the right moment. And then boom, there it is. It’s perfect.

There are still just such little weirdos. Like they swim upside down. They’re see-through. One of the problems with the Florida fairy shrimp is like, it might come to life once every 15 years when conditions are right. So if someone would have to be there at the right moment to, to find it.

It, so it makes their conservation challenging too, because you’re trying to protect an area where someone might [00:06:00] not have seen something for, for decades. And, and because you’re doing this project and you have this awesome illustration where people are going to be curious about the fairy shrimp and maybe like, be willing to go look at it, or if they’re out and they see something weird in a puddle, they can put it on ice naturalists then, and it could be an obscure undiscovered or rediscover fairy shrimp.

Lucas: Is it true that these are this in the same type as a sea monkeys? Do you remember?

Tierra Curry: I do remember seeing monkeys like you, you would buy the little kid and add water or send away for them and they would send them to you. I don’t know what species sea monkeys are, but that probably like, it sounds right.

Lucas: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s a order Anastroca, that also includes brine shrimp, which are more commonly known as sea monkeys. And I did get to write about this. It’s called diapause. The ability to enter a dormant state where growth and metabolism are arrested.

Tierra Curry: And the diapause for these guys, conditions can just go crazy and they’d pop up again when conditions are right. So they can withstand fire or drought or a blizzard, probably not going to get a blizzard in Florida, but they’re just so resilient until someone comes along and paves their habitat. And then, and then that’s the end. But short of that, their whole life strategy is to withstand hardship and then spring into action at the right point in time. They’re a perfect monster.

Lucas: When we talk about this on the writing team, it’s history and lore, so history is what it actually was and how it actually came to be. And then lore is the stuff that I’m making up for the game. And there’s, you know, usually between 600 to a thousand words of, of history, assuming I can find it, this one’s a little short. And then for the history section I’ve added the stat block, so you can see on the top of page 12, this is if I were to just take the fairy shrimp as it was known, in the real world. These are the numbers and abilities and traits that it would have. [00:08:00] So every creature has, you know, armor class, hit points, speed, and these six different statistics that define its ability to interact with the world.

Three physical: strength, dexterity, and constitution, and then three mental: intelligence, wisdom and charisma. And for, for this creature, all of them are very low. Cause it’s a tiny beast. It’s the smallest animal category that I can make it. And then I’ve, I’ve rewritten diapause for Dungeons and Dragons. And I think if Wizards of the Coast had had something called diapause in the game, they might call it drought resistance.

Tierra Curry: Yeah, that, that make sense. That’s definitely one of the, their life history strategies. Like the whole reason they’re found in these small bodies of water is to avoid predation because they’re such a key part of the food chain. And so by popping up in these very temporary pools, they avoid the larger predators that have to have permanent water. So drought resistance is their key to survival over the long run.

Lucas: I want to look at one more thing I have your press release and I want to talk about how, how that came to be. So this was, October 5th, 2011, a little more than 10 years to the day from when I wrote this entry: ” The Florida fairy shrimp is an all too common gut punch story of too little too late. The species was known from a single population living in a pool, just south of Gainesville, Florida. It was originally described in 1956. It was reclassified as an entirely separate genus in 2002, making it even more unique. Returning to review the animal for endangered status in 2011, researchers found the pool had been paved over by developers, rendering the species extinct.”

Did I get it right? Is that kinda how it, went?

Tierra Curry: Yes. So one interesting detail is the [00:10:00] scientist who found the fairy shrimp, he collected a couple specimens in the 1930s, had them like in a jar in his workshop and didn’t publish the description of the species until 1956. So it became known as an official species to science in 56, but he had collected it in 19 I think 1939, the late 1930s.

And so the area where the vernal pools were, where he got it, was then developed, but there’s still a lot of natural habitat around that area. So there are people, there are scientists at the Florida Natural Areas Inventory who think that it could still be out there. It’s just that, because it can go into diapause for more than a decade, a researcher would have to be there at exactly the right time in this undeveloped habitat. So we have no evidence that this, that this particular species still exists because fairy shrimp, because of their life history strategy, they’re highly endemic. They’re just found in these little areas cause they only spring to life in these temporary pools of water.

So of course you’re going to have like a lot of species in different areas. But this one, because there are natural areas not far from where it was discovered, it could still be out there. And so the scientist that I talked to in Florida, he wants people in the Gainesville area like when it rains to go look in puddles and, and take pictures of the fairy shrimp or collect a few and send them to him because it might still be out there. Because the whole area, it’s not like Miami, the whole area hasn’t been developed. There’s still some natural areas around this particular locality, south of Gainesville.

Lucas: That’s amazing.

Tierra Curry: It is! And I think like, because you’re doing this project, people might become interested in it. And so there’s a greater chance that citizen scientists would be like, cause see, I thought that’s what Fish and Wildlife Service would do. When we petitioned for endangered species act protection. I, I was a lot more idealistic and younger and naïve about how things actually work.

And I was like, “Stop the presses! [00:12:00] It could be extinct! Go find it! We don’t want to lose a species.” And I didn’t realize that there there’s not that much of a sense of urgency, that I still think that there should be. I think there should be a sense of urgency. If it’s out there, let’s protect all of the areas where it lives. but it could be out there.

Lucas: Oh, there’s two things I want to hit with that. One is that I have the, because the internet is amazing, I have the article by Ralph W. Dexter, I have his description of the fairy shrimp. okay. I’m not going to be able to pronounce this at all, but here we go, “A morphological re-evaluation of the Anostracan families Linderiellidae and Polyartemiidae, with a redescription of the linderiellid Dexteria floridana,” our Florida fairy shrimp. From what I understand this paper’s argument that the Florida fairy shrimp can be thought of as a distinct species hinges on a morphological re-evaluation of the creature in particularly, the way its genitals are shaped.

Tierra Curry: Yeah, that’s really common in biology.

Lucas: Is it really?

Tierra Curry: Yes, spring snails in particular, the species are based on the shape of their penises. And so they have like different lobes or knobs or, or ducts. And that’s how you have, like, you have to collect them and get an electron microscope and like study them in great detail. And so the 2002 paper that, that reclassifies this one, a lot of it is based on its penile morphology.

Lucas: That’s amazing. That’s a detail that didn’t make the book. There’s a couple of things based on this conversation. I’m probably going to have to add back into the entry. Even at a second cut, I don’t know if penile morphology is going to be one of them.

Tierra Curry: Just to add, to like all of this strange things about this animal, right?

Another super interesting thing about them is as they go through [00:14:00] their different larval stages of development, they have different numbers of eyes and different numbers of arms and legs, like the instars gain complexity, they start out with one eye spot and they end up with two eye stalks or they’re started out like with a couple appendages and then end up with 11 or it’s just, it’s they’re so weird!

I know if you were trying to just sit down and brainstorm up a super weird little monster, like I wouldn’t have been creative enough to come up with this. Starts with one eye, ends up with two; starts out with six arms and legs ends, up with 11 pairs. 22, I guess.

Lucas: That’s one of the particular difficulties of designing for Dungeons and Dragons is because it has this, this really interesting dichotomy between hero and monster. Mostly for copywriting reasons, anything that is not a player character, anything with one of these stat blocks is a monster.

So a person, a frog, a tiny shrimp fairy, all considered monsters and monsters don’t level up. Heroes level up. That’s what heroes do. You go from level one through 20, and it might take you three to five years, but that’s kind of the course of the game. So there’s a weird disconnect when you try to bring naturalism and conservation, too much verisimilitude to the real world to Dungeons and Dragons because you can’t necessarily write a creature that goes through several stages of development. I had to kind of pick one and I might be able to, I might be able to use the same stat block for both the larva and the shrimp, or, and the adult, but I can cause some of these numbers are so small and there’s so little here that I don’t think mechanically, it would change much. But I wish I could have told people that it starts with one eye in three legs and ends up with two [00:16:00] eyes and 22 legs. Cause that’s crazy.

Tierra Curry: Yeah, three pairs of legs starts with three pairs.

Lucas: Oh, three pairs.

Tierra Curry: But even like even egg is what’s so amazing because the tough little egg cyst is what can survive everything. Like sometimes I wish I could just take a break from life, an existent, wait for things, things to improve, or just like take a long break and then come out, “Pow! I’m ready now!”

Lucas: The fairy shrimp, or rather the shrimp fairy, cause I kind of switched it around. I needed them to have distinct names and I, I didn’t know where to go with this. So I’m flipping it around. This is a, to my mind, this is an actual fairy, in the world of the game and it would necessarily be a shrimp fairy. It’s tiny, it’s an inch and a half tall. I didn’t change that bit. And this one does have three pairs of appendages and, but it, but it has the two eyes.

Tierra Curry: One thing that I really like about this drawing, like as a human prone to anthropomorphizing things, is it looks like a tough human, like the stature of it. I can, I can relate to it. It looks like a, like a superhero human, like figure, even though it has too many arms and legs. And I

Lucas: Yeah, I didn’t expect that and that’s all down to Lucas. Our artist is also named Lucas, so it’s a little bit confusing. But that’s down to, to his genius. Cause I gave him this bizarre little alien weirdo and he came back with something that was, that we could really relate with something that sort of conformed to logical anatomy at least for, for something that could be considered a humanoid within the span of the game. And Dungeons and Dragons does have some history of insectoid creatures that we’re drawing on for this, there’s a race called the thri-keen, I think that’s a Planescape one from way back when. This isn’t entirely unprecedented in, in the D&D [00:18:00] world.

Florida fairy shrimp, the size of a D&D Miniature

But it, it did, you know, it kind of gave us the language or a way of interpreting these sort of exoskeleton forms into something that’s recognizably human, something that a player character would want to relate to.

This is what I gave to my artist. And then I’m going to show you the sketch. The thing that got me out of bed was that the fairy shrimp are an inch and a half tall. And the other thing you might not know about D&D is that it operates on a scale, one 60th, so that one inch is five feet, which means that anything that’s an inch tall, if I were to put it on my table, while I’m playing this game would be the size of a person. So there’s a weird consonance here between a creature that’s an inch and a half long, in the real world compared to a game where an inch and a half tall is, you know, what we accept as being the size of a person. By making them an inch and a half tall in the, in the game itself, I can kind of give a D&D player, this weird sort of meta experience where, when their players encounter this in the world of, of imagination, it’s going to be the size of a D&D miniature something that they have a real point of reference for.

so with them being the size of D&D minis, I wanted them to have a culture based on performance and storytelling. So I’ve changed all of the statistics here between the history and the lore version.

Its physical statistics are still very low. It has a strength of one out of 20, which is the, you know, there’s nothing that this little inch and a half tall thing can move. But it has an extremely high wisdom, 19 out of 20 and a high intelligence, 16 out of 20. So these are creatures that know things and understand the world and pass their memories together. And because this is a world of magic, we can give them a kind of telepathy, a kind of a way of communicating with creatures, much, much larger than [00:20:00] them, and telling them things that they, the fairy shrimp might have remembered from long ago.

Tierra Curry: That’s really neat that like the size connection worked out and that you put all of that together and the dimensions.

Posing the Florida fairy shrimp as Cirque de Solei

Lucas: Thanks. I was trying to figure out how to pose this thing. Cause I knew I wanted it to be humanoid and I knew it was going to have a long tail and weird feathery face things and an odd number of legs. It was like, how in the world am I gonna make this make sense immediately to someone who’s picking up this book? So we went to modern dance. We went to Cirque de Solei and contemporary choreography. And that’s how we got this power pose.

Tierra Curry: Yeah. Based on like the it’s swimming upside down, right?

Lucas: Yeah.

Tierra Curry: Kind of really gymnastic and athletic and adaptable.

Lucas: We always get a sketch, so we have time to make some changes before he commits to rendering and painting everything. So these are the sketches that I got back.

Tierra Curry: Oh, wow. Wow. There’s just so much personality in these. I like the power pose that you ultimately went with.

Lucas: Thanks. There’s a few different poses here. All of which are drawn directly from reference photos, from Cirque de Solei and modern dance.

And, the one we ultimately went with is the second one that he came back with. But there’s, when you see them all kind of in the same way, there’s, there’s a real, there’s a real magic to this because you get, you start to get a sense of how this version of it might ambulate in 3d space. The third pose here was our runner up because it has so much personality. It has a lot of movement to it with the feathers kind of moving back from its face. And despite the fact that it has these stocked multifaceted eyes, like I can almost read that expression even though there’s hardly an expression to read.

Tierra Curry: Absolutely. I think that one looks like really friendly and chipper. Like, I’m going to figure this out. I’m going [00:22:00] to persist. And I like the other ones too. It’s kind of got martial arts influence and like gymnastics influence. I just love how much character and power and vibrancy you’ve given this extinct species so that even in the imaginary realm, people can, can picture it and honor, honor its memory. And like it can live on in the human imagination.

Placing the Florida fairy shrimp in the Feywild

Lucas: Yeah, and that is one of the other things I think I sacrificed to diapause in favor  of making that more of a point because the lore that I’ve written for this creature is that these are, these are creatures that live in a place called the Feywild, which is just kind of an amalgamation of a lot of different cultures talking about the other world or the underworld or, the mirror world.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is, is a good example. It’s a world that’s slightly askew from the rest of the world. It’s a world where all of the fairy stories of Titania and Oberon come from.

I’ve put this creature there because it just felt right. It’s kind of where all the weirdos go. I liked the idea of this creature being in the Feywild, a world where everyone is scheming. Nothing is, as it seems, and you can’t take anything at face value. So I wanted this creature to be in this world, in these pools where they’re really grounded. And they have a memory of how things were before and they’re able to literally share it with each other so that each, each shrimp fairy remembers all the experiences of its fellows past and present. “Though a single shrimp fairy might live for no longer than a few decades, it has the wisdom and maturity of the entire population of shrimp fairies that has ever existed in the pool in which it inhabits.”

Tierra Curry: I love it that you grabbed a deep time there because these are really ancient creatures. They’ve been on the planet for such a long time. I think they all the way back to the [00:24:00] Cambrian. And so that’s the perfect skill or attribute to give them this long memory.

Lucas: The other part of that is that if you’re moving through the Feywild, someone with a strong and clear memory is going to be a lifeline for you because memory is weird in the Feywild. Time moves differently. The things that you remember might not have even been real. So for this thing to, to be there as kind of a point of a point of reference or an anchor for your experience in that world it’s going to give it, it’s going to give it a real real, or it’s going to give it that urgency. Like you, you need this thing on your side and if you upset them, they will remember, and you might not ever see one again.

Which is, I think me being a little bit heavy handed with my own sort of attitudes about extinction, and playing to that idea that if they are endemic to a single pool, and then they’re gone that. We can’t get that back. And there’s a real value to that in, in the memories of the way things were in the Cambrin in the information that we might’ve gotten about how to make other things what kind of technologies or science we could have drawn from the way these weirdos are put together and the way they swim. So I, I jettisoned diapause in favor of something a bit broader.

Tierra Curry: I think it’s great. And I think that like them disappearing forever it’s reality. Like they can survive almost anything except for pavement and like a lot of pollution.

Lucas: Oh man, that slaps: “anything but pavement.”

The Florida fairy shrimp was transparent, but its D&D counterpart is rose gold

Lucas: I think there’s one last thing to show you and then we might be done. this was the final product and you’ve seen, you’ll see it, but there is a color variant here. I thought about doing something with it, where this is kind of the male and the female. Although I think if we wanted to do male and female, we’d have to change the feathers. [00:26:00]

Tierra Curry: Yeah. Yeah, add, add the appendages. I think both these colors are great. It’s kind of like a gold and a rose gold. In real life, they are pretty much clear, which is another of the weird things about them, but I’d like the, the gold, because it’s appealing and they like it. It’s hard to depict clear things.

Lucas: Yeah, I think it would have been asking a lot of my artists to not only figure out how to pose this thing and how its anatomy worked, but then go ahead and make it transparent. And now you have to figure out its digestive tract and where its lungs are and whether it has any

Tierra Curry: No, for sure. I hear you. I have it. I have a tattoo of a clear wing butterfly and everyone who sees it, who doesn’t know about clear wing butterflies is like, oh, are you getting to get that finished?

Lucas: no, no, it’s done.

Tierra Curry: When I, when I first saw one, like it was sitting on a leaf in the Amazon and you, you literally see through it and they have like a little dot of color. So you just see this little thought of color moving around. And I was with a friend and we were both like of a little thought, well, what was that thing?

And then it lands and you totally see through it. And I was like, I’m getting one. That’s so cool. But if you don’t know about them, then you think it’s not done so I totally defer to adding color to the artwork for the purpose of mass appeal.

Lucas: And we do have the luxury of saying, this isn’t quite what the history is. This isn’t quite reality. It’s, it’s kind of a hyper real thing. And I want people to learn to walk that line between what they experienced and what they see and what, what they imagine it could be, because I I want them to imagine these things as great and charismatic and beautiful and full of potential.

Even if that comes at the cost of a few of the, the real-world details of it being too transparent and upside down and [00:28:00] tiny and not actually a person.

Tierra Curry: Well, that’s the beauty of this project. I mean, this animal is extinct. There are no photos of it. The only place where it can still live is in the minds of people. And so you’re giving it a life, a suite of powers and an audience to think about it and help it continue to live.

Extinction is not inevitable

Tierra Curry: I think extinction is a political choice. It’s doesn’t have to be, it’s not inevitable. And so the more people who know about it and are passionate about it, we can put pressure on political leaders and at all stages of government, local state national to get people. Involved and committed to not losing any more species to extinction. And so I’m excited to be partnering with The Book of Extinction because you’re bringing plants and animals that we’ve lost back to life and reaching a whole new audience of passionate, smart, interested people who can help keep the memory of what we’ve lost alive, but also get involved in the campaign to make sure we don’t lose any more species to extinction.

Lucas: Where do people find out more about the Center for Biological Diversity?

Tierra Curry: So you can go to save life on earth.org that lands on our extinction crisis campaign page, or you can go to biological diversity.org and there you’ll find an overview of all of our programs, environmental health oceans, climate law. Population and sustainability and dangered species, just all of the work that we’re doing at multiple levels to, to try to end extinction.

Tierra Curry: I’m gonna do some more homework on fairy shrimp anatomy and get back to you. I think this is like a lovely and fascinating rabbit hole.

Lucas: lovely. Yeah, please do. Cause, this was one of the ones that, just from the research that I was able to do, I was at a bit of a loss. I was worried that I was going to have to cut this one, [00:30:00] because I didn’t think I had enough to fill the history section, to fill 600 words on it.

And, I think the only reason I didn’t was that I had already given the brief to the artist, I’d already sort of decided that this was what we were going to work on. And so I was, I was forced to, to stick with it. And it’s another one of those bizarre near misses that, yeah, it’s, it’s still here. It’s still a part of the project through some of the most bizarre, possible circumstances.

Tierra Curry: You’re a leading author now on the Florida fairy shrimp, because it is not, it is not a crowded field. You’ve spent as many hours investigating it as anyone. And you’re publishing something about it. Like as many words as anyone else has written, since it’s two descriptions.

Lucas: Oh, no, I hadn’t even thought about that. I have been keeping a bibliography. So it is my hope that people can check my work when this comes out. And it, that is like, that is really encouraging that, oh man, we’re, we’re going to have to make this with a certain level of scientific rigor because it’s just the only, in some cases it might be the only thing about this. And I don’t want to lead people astray.

Tierra Curry: Yeah. I mean, there’s not, this was one of those species. There’s three papers. There’s the petition we wrote to get protection and there’s the denial the Fish and Wildlife Service wrote. And now there’s your Book of Extinction account and that’s it. That’s cumulative.

Lucas: Ooh. All right. New goal: let’s make Wikipedia.

Tierra Curry: I think Wiki right now is just the, the account from our petition in fish and wildlife service saying it’s extinct. So we could totally go edit that Wikipedia article to put a link to The Book of Extinction, because there’s like a pop culture section that they do, like references and culture. So we can absolutely link that.

Lucas: All right. So [00:32:00] new metric of success for this, not just can we get on Wikipedia for this, but how, like what percentage of the things we cover? Can we do good enough work on that we will make the Wikipedia page?

Tierra Curry: Yeah, I think for all of the species, like the more recently declared extinct species, there’s just not very much known about them because they were discovered and then their habitat was ruined and then they were declared extinct and we don’t have any information from the interim.

I want to circle back just a second to like the tight storyline of “discovered, lost, declared extinct” because unfortunately the Florida fairy shrimp, isn’t an outlier there. It’s the story of dozens of quiet extinctions that have happened around the country, the Tatum cave beetle, the, beaver pond Mar Estonia spring snail,, you have the original descriptions and the so much development dams, pavement pollution happened. And then they’re just gone and we never got to learn all of the amazing things about them. And so people like in general, the, the modern lifestyle and the way that we pave everything and grow food with tons of pesticides and have tons of stuff like that. That is the villainous side of this. But like the hero protagonist side of this is we can make things different.

We can change. We don’t have to live in the world the way it is right now. And it’s just enough people. Waking up to that and realizing that, I mean, it’s suicidal of us to keep a wiping out nature. And assuming that it’s separate from who we are and separate from human wellbeing, by wiping out nature and paving everything we’re hurting ourselves. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

Lucas: Okay. That’s where we’re at. That’s what we’re doing. Cause yeah, heroes change. Villains have stat blocks and heroes have character sheets and your character sheet can change. You can level up.

Tierra Curry: And we really, I mean, we just have to put so much pressure on. Policymakers so that things, the status quo [00:34:00] doesn’t keep happening. We don’t keep burning fossil fuels. We don’t keep looking at every patch of forest as a future subdivision. We like set those areas aside and take concrete actions to fight climate change, to have cleaner energy, to have fair energy that doesn’t disproportionately harm marginalized communities.

And the, I mean, part of it is just not getting overwhelmed by all of it and finding an action that you can take and then taking it. And that’s like the antidote to personal despair. And it’s also the way to end extinction is to just find something that you can do and do it and not feel like there’s so much bad stuff, but I can’t do anything.

Lucas: Yeah. And that’s what this, that’s what this project is here to do itself. In the cosmic scheme of things, it’s so small. And it’s such a short first step. But I think it’s one of the most incredibly powerful things that we can do. And it’s one of the things that D&D players are best suited to do is to tell stories. I haven’t written a prescription with this.

These are all tools. These are all places to start. And if you bring this to your table and you suddenly, and if, you know, you sit there for three or four hours and you go through this story in the way that only D&D can, where you’re present and immersive and emotionally invested that I think to my, to my mind, and the reason I’m doing this, that’s. Yeah, that’s the best thing I know how to do. And I think it’s the thing that D&D players can do better than anybody else. So this is the opportunity that we have and kind of the first step that I’m giving people. Yeah.

Tierra Curry: I am so grateful for you and for this project, I think it’s creative and wonderful, and it’s going to be, it’s really going to make a difference in the long run.

Lucas: Tierra, thank you so much for being here and taking another hour to go over this. I’m glad that you were as excited to see this as I was to show you this.[00:36:00]

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