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The Florida Fairy Shrimp | Extinction
Episode 511th April 2022 • Making a Monster • Lucas Zellers
00:00:00 00:36:59

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Get three extinct animals raised to life as monsters in D&D: https://www.scintilla.studio/extinction

Episode transcript: https://scintilla.studio/monster-extinction-florida-fairy-shrimp

Guides:

Tierra Curry, Senior Scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity

https://twitter.com/TierraMussel


Did you like this stat block? Let me know on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SparkOtter

Music credit: "Extinction Theme" by Alex Monroe

Transcripts

Tierra Curry:

Oh my goodness.

Tierra Curry:

That's amazing.

Tierra Curry:

I love it.

Tierra Curry:

Super strong and powerful, and it just

Tierra Curry:

captures all the weirdness and complexity

Tierra Curry:

of fairy shrimp because they're such

Tierra Curry:

weirdos and they're so mysterious and you

Tierra Curry:

don't necessarily think of "fairy shrimp"

Tierra Curry:

as being tough, but they're so tough.

Tierra Curry:

Like their cysts can live, they

Tierra Curry:

can withstand drying, freezing

Tierra Curry:

heat, solidity, outer space.

Tierra Curry:

They're just like waiting for conditions

Tierra Curry:

to be right to spring, back to life.

Lucas:

Hello, and welcome to Making a

Monster:

Extinction., The bite-sized

Monster:

podcast, where we explore the

Monster:

history of species extinct from the

Monster:

real world and retell their stories

Monster:

as Dungeons and Dragons monsters.

Monster:

It's all a part of Book of

Monster:

Extinction, a monster manual of

Monster:

extinct species resurrected for D&D.

Monster:

I and the team at Mage Hand Press are

Monster:

proud to announce our partnership with

Monster:

the Center for Biological Diversity

Monster:

to protect endangered species by

Monster:

raising money through the first

Monster:

three monsters in the book before

Monster:

it comes to Kickstarter in 2022.

Monster:

The Center directly inspired one of

Monster:

the first entries I wrote for the

Monster:

book through their advocacy for the

Monster:

now extinct Florida fairy shrimp.

Monster:

One of the scientists who worked

Monster:

on that petition is Tierra Curry.

Monster:

And I asked her to take a look at the

Monster:

monster I came up with and how our artists

Monster:

had rendered it based on some of the

Monster:

earliest advocacy work in her career.

Monster:

This is a story of near misses and perfect

Monster:

timing, more than 10 years in the making.

Monster:

And I'm so excited to share it.

Monster:

We'll be taking an exclusive sneak peek

Monster:

at new art from Book of Extinction.

Monster:

So if you want to see what we're seeing in

Monster:

this interview, you can visit the episode

Monster:

page at scintilla.studio/extinction, or

Monster:

just follow the link in the description.

Tierra Curry:

So I'm Tierra Curry.

Tierra Curry:

I'm a senior scientist at the Center

Tierra Curry:

for Biological Diversity, and I direct

Tierra Curry:

our Saving Life on Earth campaign, which

Tierra Curry:

is a focus campaign to raise awareness

Tierra Curry:

of extinction and getting people

Tierra Curry:

involved in the fight to end extinction.

Lucas:

You know, I'm a journalist by

Lucas:

training and a game designer by choice,

Lucas:

and neither of those are conservation

Lucas:

scientists, so I'm really grateful to have

Lucas:

you on board to keep me on the straight

Lucas:

and narrow and make sure that the research

Lucas:

that I've done matches your experience

Lucas:

of the world and this field in particular

Tierra Curry:

I think you're pretty

Tierra Curry:

solidly moving into being a bonafide

Tierra Curry:

conservationist with all of the

Tierra Curry:

advocacy and research that you're doing.

Tierra Curry:

I think you can add that to your title.

Lucas:

I will, thank you.

Lucas:

I wanted to be there when we talked

Lucas:

about the Florida fairy shrimp, because

Lucas:

the way that I generated the list of

Lucas:

extinct animals that we were going to

Lucas:

be using was by just Googling lists of

Lucas:

extinct animals and, looking at some

Lucas:

and a couple of books on the subject.

Lucas:

Then just kind of, you know, what were

Lucas:

the ones that showed up every single time?

Lucas:

The, the Tasmanian tiger, the passenger

Lucas:

pigeon, the Carolina parakeet, those

Lucas:

consistently make the top of the list

Lucas:

and then kind of working my way down

Lucas:

to fill out another 70 to 100 slots.

Lucas:

And one of the ones that came up was

Lucas:

your press release on the Florida

Lucas:

fairy shrimp and the Florida rainbow

Lucas:

snake, which is back in 2011.

Lucas:

And it's kind of, it's kind of funny

Lucas:

in a way you could say that that press

Lucas:

release is the whole reason that, we

Lucas:

were able to make this partnership

Lucas:

happen because I don't know that I

Lucas:

would have, I like to think I would

Lucas:

have run into the Center eventually.

Lucas:

But I don't think it would have been

Lucas:

nearly as cool if if we didn't have this

Tierra Curry:

Yeah, I

Tierra Curry:

think it's really cool too.

Tierra Curry:

And I'm actually excited that you kind of

Tierra Curry:

made this reveal all mysterious because

Tierra Curry:

I've been in my head this morning.

Tierra Curry:

I was like, what's a Fairy

Tierra Curry:

Shrimp going to look like?

Tierra Curry:

Which is one of the questions we've had

Tierra Curry:

about this species all along, right?

Tierra Curry:

Like no one has a photo of it.

Tierra Curry:

There's a couple of specimens

Tierra Curry:

in jars, so I'm really excited

Tierra Curry:

to see it brought to life.

Lucas:

Let me paint a picture for you.

Lucas:

I wanted the Florida fairy shrimp on

Lucas:

the list and I didn't start working on

Lucas:

it until after I had given a brief to

Lucas:

my artist, but it was late October and

Lucas:

I suddenly realized just how little we

Lucas:

know about the Florida fairy shrimp.

Lucas:

And I was trying to figure out

Lucas:

how on earth we're going to do it.

Lucas:

I worked on it all day and I got

Lucas:

nowhere and I gave up and went to bed.

Lucas:

And at 11 o'clock, I had it, I

Lucas:

got up, I came back downstairs

Lucas:

and I wrote for like three hours

Lucas:

and that's how we got, but we got,

Tierra Curry:

Oh, wow.

Tierra Curry:

Okay.

Tierra Curry:

I see that.

Tierra Curry:

I see that The Book of

Tierra Curry:

Extinction first page.

Tierra Curry:

Should I scroll forward?

Lucas:

yep.

Lucas:

There's 1, 2, 3 others.

Lucas:

Before you get to the Florida

Lucas:

fairy shrimp, I'm hugely

Lucas:

excited about each of these.

Tierra Curry:

This is the most

Tierra Curry:

words anyone's written about

Tierra Curry:

the Florida fairy shrimp.

Tierra Curry:

It's totally living again through this.

Tierra Curry:

Oh my goodness!

Tierra Curry:

That's amazing!

Tierra Curry:

I love it!

Tierra Curry:

Super strong and powerful, and it

Tierra Curry:

just captures all the weirdness and

Tierra Curry:

complexity of fairy shrimp because

Tierra Curry:

they're, they're such weirdos and

Tierra Curry:

they're so mysterious and you don't

Tierra Curry:

necessarily think of fairy shrimp as

Tierra Curry:

being tough, but they're so tough.

Tierra Curry:

Like their cysts can live, they

Tierra Curry:

can withstand drying, freezing

Tierra Curry:

heat, solidity, outer space.

Tierra Curry:

They're just like waiting for conditions

Tierra Curry:

to be right to spring, back to life.

Tierra Curry:

And then there they are.

Tierra Curry:

And like the, the energy behind

Tierra Curry:

this picture totally captures that.

Tierra Curry:

It's just waiting for the right moment.

Tierra Curry:

And then boom, there it is.

Tierra Curry:

It's perfect.

Tierra Curry:

There are still just such little weirdos.

Tierra Curry:

Like they swim upside down.

Tierra Curry:

They're see-through.

Tierra Curry:

One of the problems with the Florida fairy

Tierra Curry:

shrimp is like, it might come to life once

Tierra Curry:

every 15 years when conditions are right.

Tierra Curry:

So if someone would have to be there

Tierra Curry:

at the right moment to, to find it.

Tierra Curry:

It, so it makes their conservation

Tierra Curry:

challenging too, because you're trying

Tierra Curry:

to protect an area where someone might

Tierra Curry:

not have seen something for, for decades.

Tierra Curry:

And, and because you're doing this project

Tierra Curry:

and you have this awesome illustration

Tierra Curry:

where people are going to be curious

Tierra Curry:

about the fairy shrimp and maybe like, be

Tierra Curry:

willing to go look at it, or if they're

Tierra Curry:

out and they see something weird in a

Tierra Curry:

puddle, they can put it on ice naturalists

Tierra Curry:

then, and it could be an obscure

Tierra Curry:

undiscovered or rediscover fairy shrimp.

Lucas:

Is it true that these are this

Lucas:

in the same type as a sea monkeys?

Lucas:

Do you remember?

Tierra Curry:

I do remember seeing

Tierra Curry:

monkeys like you, you would buy the

Tierra Curry:

little kid and add water or send away

Tierra Curry:

for them and they would send them to you.

Tierra Curry:

I don't know what species sea monkeys are,

Tierra Curry:

but that probably like, it sounds right.

Lucas:

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lucas:

It's a order Anastroca, that also

Lucas:

includes brine shrimp, which are

Lucas:

more commonly known as sea monkeys.

Lucas:

And I did get to write about this.

Lucas:

It's called diapause.

Lucas:

The ability to enter a dormant state

Lucas:

where growth and metabolism are arrested.

Tierra Curry:

And the diapause

Tierra Curry:

for these guys, conditions can

Tierra Curry:

just go crazy and they'd pop up

Tierra Curry:

again when conditions are right.

Tierra Curry:

So they can withstand fire or drought

Tierra Curry:

or a blizzard, probably not going

Tierra Curry:

to get a blizzard in Florida, but

Tierra Curry:

they're just so resilient until someone

Tierra Curry:

comes along and paves their habitat.

Tierra Curry:

And then, and then that's the end.

Tierra Curry:

But short of that, their whole

Tierra Curry:

life strategy is to withstand

Tierra Curry:

hardship and then spring into

Tierra Curry:

action at the right point in time.

Tierra Curry:

They're a perfect monster.

Lucas:

When we talk about this on

Lucas:

the writing team, it's history and

Lucas:

lore, so history is what it actually

Lucas:

was and how it actually came to be.

Lucas:

And then lore is the stuff that

Lucas:

I'm making up for the game.

Lucas:

And there's, you know, usually

Lucas:

between 600 to a thousand words

Lucas:

of, of history, assuming I can

Lucas:

find it, this one's a little short.

Lucas:

And then for the history section I've

Lucas:

added the stat block, so you can see

Lucas:

on the top of page 12, this is if I

Lucas:

were to just take the fairy shrimp

Lucas:

as it was known, in the real world.

Lucas:

These are the numbers and abilities

Lucas:

and traits that it would have.

Lucas:

So every creature has, you know, armor

Lucas:

class, hit points, speed, and these

Lucas:

six different statistics that define

Lucas:

its ability to interact with the world.

Three physical:

strength, dexterity,

Three physical:

and constitution, and then three mental:

Three physical:

intelligence, wisdom and charisma.

Three physical:

And for, for this creature,

Three physical:

all of them are very low.

Three physical:

Cause it's a tiny beast.

Three physical:

It's the smallest animal

Three physical:

category that I can make it.

Three physical:

And then I've, I've rewritten

Three physical:

diapause for Dungeons and Dragons.

Three physical:

And I think if Wizards of the Coast had

Three physical:

had something called diapause in the game,

Three physical:

they might call it drought resistance.

Tierra Curry:

Yeah, that, that make sense.

Tierra Curry:

That's definitely one of the,

Tierra Curry:

their life history strategies.

Tierra Curry:

Like the whole reason they're found

Tierra Curry:

in these small bodies of water is

Tierra Curry:

to avoid predation because they're

Tierra Curry:

such a key part of the food chain.

Tierra Curry:

And so by popping up in these

Tierra Curry:

very temporary pools, they

Tierra Curry:

avoid the larger predators that

Tierra Curry:

have to have permanent water.

Tierra Curry:

So drought resistance is their

Tierra Curry:

key to survival over the long run.

Lucas:

I want to look at one more thing

Lucas:

I have your press release and I want

Lucas:

to talk about how, how that came to be.

Lucas:

So this was, October 5th, 2011, a

Lucas:

little more than 10 years to the day from

when I wrote this entry:

" The Florida

when I wrote this entry:

fairy shrimp is an all too common gut

when I wrote this entry:

punch story of too little too late.

when I wrote this entry:

The species was known from a single

when I wrote this entry:

population living in a pool, just

when I wrote this entry:

south of Gainesville, Florida.

when I wrote this entry:

It was originally described in 1956.

when I wrote this entry:

It was reclassified as an

when I wrote this entry:

entirely separate genus in 2002,

when I wrote this entry:

making it even more unique.

when I wrote this entry:

Returning to review the animal

when I wrote this entry:

for endangered status in 2011,

when I wrote this entry:

researchers found the pool had

when I wrote this entry:

been paved over by developers,

when I wrote this entry:

rendering the species extinct."

when I wrote this entry:

Did I get it right?

when I wrote this entry:

Is that kinda how it, went?

Tierra Curry:

Yes.

Tierra Curry:

So one interesting detail is the

Tierra Curry:

scientist who found the fairy shrimp,

Tierra Curry:

he collected a couple specimens in

Tierra Curry:

the 1930s, had them like in a jar in

Tierra Curry:

his workshop and didn't publish the

Tierra Curry:

description of the species until 1956.

Tierra Curry:

So it became known as an official species

Tierra Curry:

to science in 56, but he had collected

Tierra Curry:

it in 19 I think 1939, the late 1930s.

Tierra Curry:

And so the area where the vernal

Tierra Curry:

pools were, where he got it, was then

Tierra Curry:

developed, but there's still a lot

Tierra Curry:

of natural habitat around that area.

Tierra Curry:

So there are people, there are scientists

Tierra Curry:

at the Florida Natural Areas Inventory who

Tierra Curry:

think that it could still be out there.

Tierra Curry:

It's just that, because it can

Tierra Curry:

go into diapause for more than a

Tierra Curry:

decade, a researcher would have

Tierra Curry:

to be there at exactly the right

Tierra Curry:

time in this undeveloped habitat.

Tierra Curry:

So we have no evidence that this,

Tierra Curry:

that this particular species

Tierra Curry:

still exists because fairy shrimp,

Tierra Curry:

because of their life history

Tierra Curry:

strategy, they're highly endemic.

Tierra Curry:

They're just found in these little

Tierra Curry:

areas cause they only spring to life

Tierra Curry:

in these temporary pools of water.

Tierra Curry:

So of course you're going to have like

Tierra Curry:

a lot of species in different areas.

Tierra Curry:

But this one, because there are

Tierra Curry:

natural areas not far from where it was

Tierra Curry:

discovered, it could still be out there.

Tierra Curry:

And so the scientist that I talked

Tierra Curry:

to in Florida, he wants people in

Tierra Curry:

the Gainesville area like when it

Tierra Curry:

rains to go look in puddles and, and

Tierra Curry:

take pictures of the fairy shrimp or

Tierra Curry:

collect a few and send them to him

Tierra Curry:

because it might still be out there.

Tierra Curry:

Because the whole area, it's

Tierra Curry:

not like Miami, the whole

Tierra Curry:

area hasn't been developed.

Tierra Curry:

There's still some natural

Tierra Curry:

areas around this particular

Tierra Curry:

locality, south of Gainesville.

Lucas:

That's amazing.

Tierra Curry:

It is!

Tierra Curry:

And I think like, because you're

Tierra Curry:

doing this project, people

Tierra Curry:

might become interested in it.

Tierra Curry:

And so there's a greater chance that

Tierra Curry:

citizen scientists would be like,

Tierra Curry:

cause see, I thought that's what

Tierra Curry:

Fish and Wildlife Service would do.

Tierra Curry:

When we petitioned for endangered

Tierra Curry:

species act protection.

Tierra Curry:

I, I was a lot more idealistic and younger

Tierra Curry:

and naive about how things actually work.

Tierra Curry:

And I was like, "Stop the presses!

Tierra Curry:

It could be extinct!

Tierra Curry:

Go find it!

Tierra Curry:

We don't want to lose a species."

Tierra Curry:

And I didn't realize that there there's

Tierra Curry:

not that much of a sense of urgency,

Tierra Curry:

that I still think that there should be.

Tierra Curry:

I think there should

Tierra Curry:

be a sense of urgency.

Tierra Curry:

If it's out there, let's protect

Tierra Curry:

all of the areas where it lives.

Tierra Curry:

but it could be out there.

Lucas:

Oh, there's two things

Lucas:

I want to hit with that.

Lucas:

One is that I have the, because

Lucas:

the internet is amazing, I

Lucas:

have the article by Ralph W.

Lucas:

Dexter, I have his description

Lucas:

of the fairy shrimp.

Lucas:

okay.

Lucas:

I'm not going to be able to pronounce this

Lucas:

at all, but here we go, "A morphological

Lucas:

re-evaluation of the anostracan families

Lucas:

Linderiellidae and Polyartemiidae, with a

Lucas:

redescription of the linderiellid Dexteria

Lucas:

floridana," our Florida fairy shrimp.

Lucas:

From what I understand this paper's

Lucas:

argument that the Florida fairy shrimp

Lucas:

can be thought of as a distinct species

Lucas:

hinges on a morphological re-evaluation

Lucas:

of the creature in particularly,

Lucas:

the way its genitals are shaped.

Tierra Curry:

Yeah,

Tierra Curry:

that's really common in

Lucas:

Is it really?

Tierra Curry:

Yes, spring snails in

Tierra Curry:

particular, the species are based

Tierra Curry:

on the shape of their penises.

Tierra Curry:

And so they have like different

Tierra Curry:

lobes or knobs or, or ducts.

Tierra Curry:

And that's how you have, like,

Tierra Curry:

you have to collect them and

Tierra Curry:

get an electron microscope and

Tierra Curry:

like study them in great detail.

Tierra Curry:

And so the 2002 paper that, that

Tierra Curry:

reclassifies this one, a lot of it

Tierra Curry:

is based on its penile morphology.

Lucas:

That's amazing.

Lucas:

That's a detail that didn't make the book.

Lucas:

There's a couple of things

Lucas:

based on this conversation.

Lucas:

I'm probably going to have

Lucas:

to add back into the entry.

Lucas:

Even at a second cut, I don't

Lucas:

know if penile morphology

Lucas:

is going to be one of them.

Tierra Curry:

Just to add, to

Tierra Curry:

like all of this strange things

Tierra Curry:

about this animal, right?

Tierra Curry:

Another super interesting thing about

Tierra Curry:

them is as they go through their different

Tierra Curry:

larval stages of development, they have

Tierra Curry:

different numbers of eyes and different

Tierra Curry:

numbers of arms and legs, like the instars

Tierra Curry:

gain complexity, they start out with one

Tierra Curry:

eye spot and they end up with two eye

Tierra Curry:

stalks or they're started out like with

Tierra Curry:

a couple appendages and then end up with

Tierra Curry:

11 or it's just, it's they're so weird!

Tierra Curry:

I know if you were trying to just sit

Tierra Curry:

down and brainstorm up a super weird

Tierra Curry:

little monster, like I wouldn't have been

Tierra Curry:

creative enough to come up with this.

Tierra Curry:

Starts with one eye, ends up with

Tierra Curry:

two; starts out with six arms

Tierra Curry:

and legs ends, up with 11 pairs.

Tierra Curry:

22, I guess.

Lucas:

That's one of the particular

Lucas:

difficulties of designing for

Lucas:

Dungeons and Dragons is because it

Lucas:

has this, this really interesting

Lucas:

dichotomy between hero and monster.

Lucas:

Mostly for copywriting reasons,

Lucas:

anything that is not a player

Lucas:

character, anything with one of

Lucas:

these stat blocks is a monster.

Lucas:

So a person, a frog, a tiny shrimp

Lucas:

fairy, all considered monsters

Lucas:

and monsters don't level up.

Lucas:

Heroes level up.

Lucas:

That's what heroes do.

Lucas:

You go from level one through 20, and it

Lucas:

might take you three to five years, but

Lucas:

that's kind of the course of the game.

Lucas:

So there's a weird disconnect when you

Lucas:

try to bring naturalism and conservation,

Lucas:

too much verisimilitude to the real world

Lucas:

to Dungeons and Dragons because you can't

Lucas:

necessarily write a creature that goes

Lucas:

through several stages of development.

Lucas:

I had to kind of pick one and I might

Lucas:

be able to, I might be able to use the

Lucas:

same statlock block for both the for

Lucas:

both the larva and the shrimp, or,

Lucas:

and the adult, but I can cause some of

Lucas:

these numbers are so small and there's

Lucas:

so little here that I don't think

Lucas:

mechanically, it would change much.

Lucas:

But I wish I could have told people that

Lucas:

it starts with one eye in three legs

Lucas:

and ends up with two eyes and 22 legs.

Lucas:

Cause that's crazy.

Tierra Curry:

Yeah, three

Tierra Curry:

pairs of legs starts with three

Lucas:

Oh, three pairs.

Tierra Curry:

pairs.

Tierra Curry:

But even like even egg is what's so

Tierra Curry:

amazing because the tough little egg

Tierra Curry:

cyst is what can survive everything.

Tierra Curry:

Like sometimes I wish I could just take

Tierra Curry:

a break from life, an existent, wait for

Tierra Curry:

things, things to improve, or just like

Tierra Curry:

take a long break and then come out, "Pow!

Tierra Curry:

I'm ready now!

Lucas:

The fairy shrimp, or

Lucas:

rather the shrimp fairy, cause

Lucas:

I kind of switched it around.

Lucas:

I needed them to have distinct names and

Lucas:

I, I didn't know where to go with this.

Lucas:

So I'm flipping it around.

Lucas:

This is a, to my mind, this is an actual

Lucas:

fairy, in the world of the game and

Lucas:

it would necessarily be a shrimp fairy.

Lucas:

It's tiny, it's an inch and a half tall.

Lucas:

I didn't change that bit.

Lucas:

And this one does have three

Lucas:

pairs of appendages and, but

Lucas:

it, but it has the two eyes.

Tierra Curry:

One thing that I really

Tierra Curry:

like about this drawing, like as a

Tierra Curry:

human prone to anthropomorphizing

Tierra Curry:

things, is it looks like a tough

Tierra Curry:

human, like the stature of it.

Tierra Curry:

I can, I can relate to it.

Tierra Curry:

It looks like a, like a superhero

Tierra Curry:

human, like figure, even though

Tierra Curry:

it has too many arms and legs.

Tierra Curry:

And I

Lucas:

yeah, I didn't expect that

Lucas:

and that's all down to Lucas.

Lucas:

Our artist is also named Lucas,

Lucas:

so it's a little bit confusing.

Lucas:

But that's down to, to his genius.

Lucas:

Cause I gave him this bizarre little

Lucas:

alien weirdo and he came back with

Lucas:

something that was, that we could really

Lucas:

relate with something that sort of

Lucas:

conformed to logical anatomy at least for,

Lucas:

for something that could be considered

Lucas:

a humanoid within the span of the game.

Lucas:

And Dungeons and Dragons does have some

Lucas:

history of insectoid creatures that

Lucas:

we're drawing on for this, there's a

Lucas:

race called the thri-keen, I think that's

Lucas:

a Planescape one from way back when.

Lucas:

This isn't entirely unprecedented

Lucas:

in, in the D&D world.

Lucas:

But it, it did, you know, it kind

Lucas:

of gave us the language or a way of

Lucas:

interpreting these sort of exoskeleton

Lucas:

forms into something that's recognizably

Lucas:

human, something that a player

Lucas:

character would want to relate to.

Lucas:

This is what I gave to, to my artist.

Lucas:

And then I'm going to show you the sketch.

Lucas:

The thing that got me out of

Lucas:

bed was that the fairy shrimp

Lucas:

are an inch and a half tall.

Lucas:

And the other thing you might not know

Lucas:

about D&D is that it operates on a scale.

Lucas:

One 60th, so that one inch is five

Lucas:

feet, which means that anything that's

Lucas:

an inch tall, if I were to put it

Lucas:

on my table, while I'm playing this

Lucas:

game would be the size of a person.

Lucas:

So there's a weird consonance here between

Lucas:

a creature that's an inch and a half long,

Lucas:

in the real world compared to a game where

Lucas:

an inch and a half tall is, you know, what

Lucas:

we accept as being the size of a person.

Lucas:

By making them an inch and a half tall

Lucas:

in the, in the game itself, I can kind

Lucas:

of give a D&D player, this weird sort

Lucas:

of meta experience where, when their

Lucas:

players encounter this in the world of,

Lucas:

of imagination, it's going to be the

Lucas:

size of a D&D miniature something that

Lucas:

they have a real point of reference for.

Lucas:

so with them being the size of D&D

Lucas:

minis, I wanted them to have a culture

Lucas:

based on performance and storytelling.

Lucas:

So I've changed all of the statistics here

Lucas:

between the history and the lore version.

Lucas:

Its physical statistics

Lucas:

are still very low.

Lucas:

It has a strength of one out of

Lucas:

20, which is the, you know, there's

Lucas:

nothing that this little inch

Lucas:

and a half tall thing can move.

Lucas:

But it has an extremely high

Lucas:

wisdom, 19 out of 20 and a high

Lucas:

intelligence, 16 out of 20.

Lucas:

So these are creatures that know

Lucas:

things and understand the world

Lucas:

and pass their memories together.

Lucas:

And because this is a world of magic, we

Lucas:

can give them a kind of telepathy, a kind

Lucas:

of a way of communicating with creatures,

Lucas:

much, much larger than them, and telling

Lucas:

them things that they, the fairy shrimp

Lucas:

might have remembered from long ago.

Tierra Curry:

That's really neat

Tierra Curry:

that like the size connection

Tierra Curry:

worked out and that you put all of

Tierra Curry:

that together and the dimensions.

Lucas:

Thanks.

Lucas:

I was trying to figure out

Lucas:

how to pose this thing.

Lucas:

Cause I knew I wanted it to be humanoid

Lucas:

and I knew it was going to have a

Lucas:

long tail and weird feathery face

Lucas:

things and an odd number of legs.

Lucas:

It was like, how in the world am I

Lucas:

gonna make this make sense immediately

Lucas:

to someone who's picking up this book?

Lucas:

So we went to modern dance.

Lucas:

We went to Cirque de Solei

Lucas:

and contemporary choreography.

Lucas:

And that's how we got this power pose.

Tierra Curry:

Yeah.

Tierra Curry:

Based on like the it's

Tierra Curry:

swimming upside down, right?

Lucas:

Yeah.

Tierra Curry:

Kind of really

Tierra Curry:

gymnastic and athletic and adaptable.

Lucas:

We always get a sketch,

Lucas:

so we have time to make some

Lucas:

changes before he commits to

Lucas:

rendering and painting everything.

Lucas:

So these are the sketches that I got back.

Tierra Curry:

Oh, wow.

Tierra Curry:

Wow.

Tierra Curry:

There's just so much personality in these.

Tierra Curry:

I like the power pose that

Tierra Curry:

you ultimately went with.

Lucas:

Thanks.

Lucas:

There's a few different poses here.

Lucas:

All of which are drawn directly

Lucas:

from reference photos, from

Lucas:

Cirque de Solei and modern dance.

Lucas:

And, the one we ultimately went with is

Lucas:

the second one that he came back with.

Lucas:

But there's, when you see them all kind of

Lucas:

in the same way, there's, there's a real,

Lucas:

there's a real magic to this because you

Lucas:

get, you start to get a sense of how this

Lucas:

version of it might ambulate in 3d space.

Lucas:

The third pose here was our runner up

Lucas:

because it has so much personality.

Lucas:

It has a lot of movement to

Lucas:

it with the feathers kind of

Lucas:

moving back from its face.

Lucas:

And despite the fact that it has these

Lucas:

stocked multifaceted eyes, like I can

Lucas:

almost read that expression even though

Lucas:

there's hardly an expression to read.

Tierra Curry:

Absolutely.

Tierra Curry:

I think that one looks like

Tierra Curry:

really friendly and chipper.

Tierra Curry:

Like, I'm going to figure this out.

Tierra Curry:

I'm going to persist.

Tierra Curry:

And I like the other ones too.

Tierra Curry:

It's kind of got martial arts influence

Tierra Curry:

and like gymnastics influence.

Tierra Curry:

I just love how much character and

Tierra Curry:

power and vibrancy you've given this

Tierra Curry:

extinct species so that even in the

Tierra Curry:

imaginary realm, people can, can

Tierra Curry:

picture it and honor, honor its memory.

Tierra Curry:

And like it can live on

Tierra Curry:

in the human imagination.

Lucas:

Yeah, and that is one of the other

Lucas:

things I think I sacrificed to die a pause

Lucas:

in favor of, of making that more of a

Lucas:

point because the lore that I've written

Lucas:

for this creature is that these are,

Lucas:

these are creatures that live in a place

Lucas:

called the Feywild, which is just kind

Lucas:

of an amalgamation of a lot of different

Lucas:

cultures talking about the other world

Lucas:

or the underworld or, the mirror world.

Lucas:

Alice's adventures in Wonderland

Lucas:

is, is a good example.

Lucas:

It's, it's a world that's slightly

Lucas:

askew from the rest of the world.

Lucas:

It's a world where all of the fairy

Lucas:

stories of Titania and Oberon come from.

Lucas:

I've put this creature there

Lucas:

because it just felt right.

Lucas:

It's kind of where all the weirdos go.

Lucas:

I liked the idea of this creature

Lucas:

being in the Feywild, a world

Lucas:

where everyone is scheming.

Lucas:

Nothing is, as it seems, and you

Lucas:

can't take anything at face value.

Lucas:

So I wanted this creature to be

Lucas:

in this world, in these pools

Lucas:

where they're really grounded.

Lucas:

And they have a memory of how things were

Lucas:

before and they're able to literally share

Lucas:

it with each other so that each, each

Lucas:

shrimp fairy remembers all the experiences

Lucas:

of its fellows past and present.

Lucas:

"Though a single shrimp fairy might live

Lucas:

for no longer than a few decades, it has

Lucas:

the wisdom and maturity of the entire

Lucas:

population of shrimp fairies that has ever

Lucas:

existed in the pool in which it inhabits."

Tierra Curry:

I love it that you

Tierra Curry:

grabbed a deep time there because

Tierra Curry:

these are really ancient creatures.

Tierra Curry:

They've been on the planet

Tierra Curry:

for such a long time.

Tierra Curry:

I think they all the way

Tierra Curry:

back to the Cambrian.

Tierra Curry:

And so that's the perfect skill or

Tierra Curry:

attribute to give them this long memory.

Lucas:

The other part of that is that

Lucas:

if you're moving through the Feywild,

Lucas:

someone with a strong and clear memory

Lucas:

is going to be a lifeline for you

Lucas:

because memory is weird in the Feywild.

Lucas:

Time moves differently.

Lucas:

The things that you remember

Lucas:

might not have even been real.

Lucas:

So for this thing to, to be there as

Lucas:

kind of a point of a point of reference

Lucas:

or an anchor for your experience in

Lucas:

that world it's going to give it,

Lucas:

it's going to give it a real real, or

Lucas:

it's going to give it that urgency.

Lucas:

Like you, you need this thing on your side

Lucas:

and if you upset them, they will remember,

Lucas:

and you might not ever see one again.

Lucas:

Which is, I think me being a little

Lucas:

bit heavy handed with my own sort of

Lucas:

attitudes about extinction, and playing

Lucas:

to that idea that if they are endemic to

Lucas:

a single pool, and then they're gone that.

Lucas:

We can't get that back.

Lucas:

And there's a real value to that in,

Lucas:

in the memories of the way things

Lucas:

were in the Cambrin in the information

Lucas:

that we might've gotten about how

Lucas:

to make other things what kind of

Lucas:

technologies or science we could have

Lucas:

drawn from the way these weirdos are

Lucas:

put together and the way they swim.

Lucas:

So I, I jettisoned diapause in

Lucas:

favor of something a bit broader.

Tierra Curry:

I think it's great.

Tierra Curry:

And I think that like them

Tierra Curry:

disappearing forever it's reality.

Tierra Curry:

Like they can survive almost

Tierra Curry:

anything except for pavement

Tierra Curry:

and like a lot of pollution.

Lucas:

Oh man, that slaps:

Lucas:

"anything but pavement."

Lucas:

I think there's one last thing to

Lucas:

show you and then we might be done.

Lucas:

this was the final product and

Lucas:

you've seen, you'll see it, but

Lucas:

there is a color variant here.

Lucas:

I thought about doing something

Lucas:

with it, where this is kind

Lucas:

of the male and the female.

Lucas:

Although I think if we wanted

Lucas:

to do male and female, we'd

Lucas:

have to change the feathers.

Tierra Curry:

Yeah.

Tierra Curry:

Yeah, add, add the appendages.

Tierra Curry:

I think both these colors are great.

Tierra Curry:

It's kind of like a gold and a rose gold.

Tierra Curry:

In real life, they are pretty much clear,

Tierra Curry:

which is another of the weird things

Tierra Curry:

about them, but I'd like the, the gold,

Tierra Curry:

because it's appealing and they like it.

Tierra Curry:

It's hard to depict clear things.

Lucas:

Yeah, I think it would have

Lucas:

been asking a lot of my artists to

Lucas:

not only figure out how to pose this

Lucas:

thing and how its anatomy worked, but

Lucas:

then go ahead and make it transparent.

Lucas:

And now you have to figure out

Lucas:

its digestive tract and where its

Lucas:

lungs are and whether it has any

Tierra Curry:

No, for sure.

Tierra Curry:

I hear you.

Tierra Curry:

I have it.

Tierra Curry:

I have a tattoo of a clear wing butterfly

Tierra Curry:

and everyone who sees it, who doesn't

Tierra Curry:

know about clear wing butterflies is like,

Tierra Curry:

oh, are you getting to get that finished?

Lucas:

no, no, it's done.

Tierra Curry:

When I, when I first

Tierra Curry:

saw one, like it was sitting on

Tierra Curry:

a leaf in the Amazon and you, you

Tierra Curry:

literally see through it and they

Tierra Curry:

have like a little dot of color.

Tierra Curry:

So you just see this little

Tierra Curry:

thought of color moving around.

Tierra Curry:

And I was with a friend and

Tierra Curry:

we were both like of a little

Tierra Curry:

thought, well, what was that thing?

Tierra Curry:

And then it lands and you

Tierra Curry:

totally see through it.

Tierra Curry:

And I was like, I'm getting one.

Tierra Curry:

That's so cool.

Tierra Curry:

But if you don't know about them,

Tierra Curry:

then you think it's not done so I

Tierra Curry:

totally defer to adding color to the

Tierra Curry:

artwork for the purpose of mass appeal.

Lucas:

And we do have the

Lucas:

luxury of saying, this isn't

Lucas:

quite what the history is.

Lucas:

This isn't quite reality.

Lucas:

It's, it's kind of a hyper real thing.

Lucas:

And I want people to

Tierra Curry:

be,

Lucas:

Yeah.

Lucas:

And I want people to learn to

Lucas:

walk that line between what they

Lucas:

experienced and what they see and

Lucas:

what, what they imagine it could

Lucas:

be, because I I want them to imagine

Lucas:

these things as great and charismatic

Lucas:

and beautiful and full of potential.

Lucas:

Even if that comes at the cost of a few

Lucas:

of the, the real-world details of it

Lucas:

being too transparent and upside down

Lucas:

and tiny and not actually a person.

Tierra Curry:

Well, that's

Tierra Curry:

the beauty of this project.

Tierra Curry:

I mean, this animal is extinct.

Tierra Curry:

There are no photos of it.

Tierra Curry:

The only place where it can still

Tierra Curry:

live is in the minds of people.

Tierra Curry:

And so you're giving it a life, a suite

Tierra Curry:

of powers and an audience to think

Tierra Curry:

about it and help it continue to live.

Tierra Curry:

I think extinction is a political choice.

Tierra Curry:

It's doesn't have to

Tierra Curry:

be, it's not inevitable.

Tierra Curry:

And so the more people who know about

Tierra Curry:

it and are passionate about it, we

Tierra Curry:

can put pressure on political leaders

Tierra Curry:

and at all stages of government,

Tierra Curry:

local state national to get people.

Tierra Curry:

Involved and committed to not losing

Tierra Curry:

any more species to extinction.

Tierra Curry:

And so I'm excited to be partnering with

Tierra Curry:

The Book of Extinction because you're

Tierra Curry:

bringing plants and animals that we've

Tierra Curry:

lost back to life and reaching a whole new

Tierra Curry:

audience of passionate, smart, interested

Tierra Curry:

people who can help keep the memory

Tierra Curry:

of what we've lost alive, but also get

Tierra Curry:

involved in the campaign to make sure we

Tierra Curry:

don't lose any more species to extinction.

Lucas:

Where do people find out more

Lucas:

about the Center for Biological Diversity?

Tierra Curry:

So you can go to save life

Tierra Curry:

on earth.org that lands on our extinction

Tierra Curry:

crisis campaign page, or you can go to

Tierra Curry:

biological diversity.org and there you'll

Tierra Curry:

find an overview of all of our programs,

Tierra Curry:

environmental health oceans, climate law.

Tierra Curry:

Population and sustainability and

Tierra Curry:

dangered species, just all of the

Tierra Curry:

work that we're doing at multiple

Tierra Curry:

levels to, to try to end extinction,

Lucas:

Fantastic.

Tierra Curry:

I'm gonna do some

Tierra Curry:

more homework on fairy shrimp

Tierra Curry:

anatomy and get back to you.

Tierra Curry:

I think this is like a lovely

Tierra Curry:

and fascinating rabbit hole.

Lucas:

lovely.

Lucas:

Yeah, please do.

Lucas:

Cause, this was one of the ones that,

Lucas:

just from the research that I was

Lucas:

able to do, I was at a bit of a loss.

Lucas:

I was worried that I was going to

Lucas:

have to cut this one, because I didn't

Lucas:

think I had enough to fill the history

Lucas:

section, to fill 600 words on it.

Lucas:

And, I think the only reason I didn't was

Lucas:

that I had already given the brief to the

Lucas:

artist, I'd already sort of decided that

Lucas:

this was what we were going to work on.

Lucas:

And so I was, I was forced

Lucas:

to, to stick with it.

Lucas:

And it's another one of those bizarre near

Lucas:

misses that, yeah, it's, it's still here.

Lucas:

It's still a part of the

Lucas:

project through some of the most

Lucas:

bizarre, possible circumstances.

Tierra Curry:

You're a leading author

Tierra Curry:

now on the Florida fairy shrimp, because

Tierra Curry:

it is not, it is not a crowded field.

Tierra Curry:

You've spent as many hours

Tierra Curry:

investigating it as anyone.

Tierra Curry:

And you're publishing something about it.

Tierra Curry:

Like as many words as anyone else has

Tierra Curry:

written, since it's two descriptions.

Lucas:

Oh, no, I hadn't

Lucas:

even thought about that.

Lucas:

I have been keeping a bibliography.

Lucas:

So it is my hope that people can

Lucas:

check my work when this comes out.

Lucas:

And it, that is like, that is really

Lucas:

encouraging that, oh man, we're, we're

Lucas:

going to have to make this with a

Lucas:

certain level of scientific rigor because

Lucas:

it's just the only, in some cases it

Lucas:

might be the only thing about this.

Lucas:

And I don't want to lead people astray.

Tierra Curry:

Yeah.

Tierra Curry:

I mean, there's not, this

Tierra Curry:

was one of those species.

Tierra Curry:

There's three papers.

Tierra Curry:

There's the petition we wrote to get

Tierra Curry:

protection and there's the denial

Tierra Curry:

the Fish and Wildlife Service wrote.

Tierra Curry:

And now there's your Book of

Tierra Curry:

Extinction account and that's it.

Tierra Curry:

That's cumulative.

Lucas:

Ooh.

Lucas:

All right.

New goal:

let's make Wikipedia.

Tierra Curry:

I think Wiki right

Tierra Curry:

now is just the, the account from

Tierra Curry:

our petition in fish and wildlife

Tierra Curry:

service saying it's extinct.

Tierra Curry:

So we could totally go edit that

Tierra Curry:

Wikipedia article to put a link to The

Tierra Curry:

Book of Extinction, because there's

Tierra Curry:

like a pop culture section that they

Tierra Curry:

do, like references and culture.

Tierra Curry:

So we can absolutely link that.

Lucas:

All right.

Lucas:

So new metric of success for this,

Lucas:

not just can we get on Wikipedia

Lucas:

for this, but how, like what

Lucas:

percentage of the things we cover?

Lucas:

Can we do good enough work on that

Lucas:

we will make the Wikipedia page?

Tierra Curry:

Yeah, I think for all

Tierra Curry:

of the species, like the more recently

Tierra Curry:

declared extinct species, there's

Tierra Curry:

just not very much known about them

Tierra Curry:

because they were discovered and then

Tierra Curry:

their habitat was ruined and then they

Tierra Curry:

were declared extinct and we don't

Tierra Curry:

have any information from the interim.

Tierra Curry:

I want to circle back just a second

Tierra Curry:

to like the tight storyline of

Tierra Curry:

"discovered, lost, declared extinct"

Tierra Curry:

because unfortunately the Florida

Tierra Curry:

fairy shrimp, isn't an outlier there.

Tierra Curry:

It's the story of dozens of quiet

Tierra Curry:

extinctions that have happened

Tierra Curry:

around the country, the Tatum cave

Tierra Curry:

beetle, the, beaver pond Mar Estonia

Tierra Curry:

spring snail,, you have the original

Tierra Curry:

descriptions and the so much development

Tierra Curry:

dams, pavement pollution happened.

Tierra Curry:

And then they're just gone and

Tierra Curry:

we never got to learn all of

Tierra Curry:

the amazing things about them.

Tierra Curry:

And so people like in general,

Tierra Curry:

the, the modern lifestyle and the

Tierra Curry:

way that we pave everything and

Tierra Curry:

grow food with tons of pesticides

Tierra Curry:

and have tons of stuff like that.

Tierra Curry:

That is the villainous side of this.

Tierra Curry:

But like the hero protagonist side of

Tierra Curry:

this is we can make things different.

Tierra Curry:

We can change.

Tierra Curry:

We don't have to live in the

Tierra Curry:

world the way it is right now.

Tierra Curry:

And it's just enough people.

Tierra Curry:

Waking up to that and realizing

Tierra Curry:

that, I mean, it's suicidal of

Tierra Curry:

us to keep a wiping out nature.

Tierra Curry:

And assuming that it's separate from

Tierra Curry:

who we are and separate from human

Tierra Curry:

wellbeing, by wiping out nature and

Tierra Curry:

paving everything we're hurting ourselves.

Tierra Curry:

And it doesn't have to be that way.

Lucas:

Okay.

Lucas:

That's where we're at.

Lucas:

That's what we're doing.

Lucas:

Cause yeah, heroes change.

Lucas:

Villains have stat blocks and

Lucas:

heroes have character sheets and

Lucas:

your character sheet can change.

Lucas:

You can level up.

Tierra Curry:

And we really, I mean, we

Tierra Curry:

just have to put so much pressure on.

Tierra Curry:

Policymakers so that things, the

Tierra Curry:

status quo doesn't keep happening.

Tierra Curry:

We don't keep burning fossil fuels.

Tierra Curry:

We don't keep looking at every patch

Tierra Curry:

of forest as a future subdivision.

Tierra Curry:

We like set those areas aside and take

Tierra Curry:

concrete actions to fight climate change,

Tierra Curry:

to have cleaner energy, to have fair

Tierra Curry:

energy that doesn't disproportionately

Tierra Curry:

harm marginalized communities.

Tierra Curry:

And the, I mean, part of it is

Tierra Curry:

just not getting overwhelmed by all

Tierra Curry:

of it and finding an action that

Tierra Curry:

you can take and then taking it.

Tierra Curry:

And that's like the antidote

Tierra Curry:

to personal despair.

Tierra Curry:

And it's also the way to end extinction

Tierra Curry:

is to just find something that you can

Tierra Curry:

do and do it and not feel like there's so

Tierra Curry:

much bad stuff, but I can't do anything.

Lucas:

Yeah.

Lucas:

And that's what this, that's what

Lucas:

this project is here to do itself.

Lucas:

In the cosmic scheme of

Lucas:

things, it's so small.

Lucas:

And it's such a short first step.

Lucas:

But I think it's one of the most

Lucas:

incredibly powerful things that we can do.

Lucas:

And it's one of the things that

Lucas:

D&D players are best suited

Lucas:

to do is to tell stories.

Lucas:

I haven't written a

Lucas:

prescription with this.

Lucas:

These are all tools.

Lucas:

These are all places to start.

Lucas:

And if you bring this to your table

Lucas:

and you suddenly, and if, you know,

Lucas:

you sit there for three or four hours

Lucas:

and you go through this story in the

Lucas:

way that only D&D can, where you're

Lucas:

present and immersive and emotionally

Lucas:

invested that I think to my, to my mind,

Lucas:

and the reason I'm doing this, that's.

Lucas:

Yeah, that's the best

Lucas:

thing I know how to do.

Lucas:

And I think it's the thing that D&D

Lucas:

players can do better than anybody else.

Lucas:

So this is the opportunity that

Lucas:

we have and kind of the first

Lucas:

step that I'm giving people.

Lucas:

Yeah.

Tierra Curry:

I am so grateful for

Tierra Curry:

you and for this project, I think

Tierra Curry:

it's creative and wonderful, and it's

Tierra Curry:

going to be, it's really going to

Tierra Curry:

make a difference in the long run.

Lucas:

Tierra, thank you so

Lucas:

much for being here and taking

Lucas:

another hour to go over this.

Lucas:

I'm glad that you were as excited to

Lucas:

see this as I was to show you this.

Lucas:

Thanks for listening to Making a Monster.

Lucas:

Now's a great time to hit that

Lucas:

follow button and leave a five

Lucas:

star review on your podcast.

Lucas:

App of choice.

Lucas:

It's a small thing, but it really does

Lucas:

help new listeners discover the pod.

Lucas:

If you want to support The Book of

Lucas:

Extinction and endangered species

Lucas:

conservation at the same time, you

Lucas:

can visit the project's landing

Lucas:

page at scintilla.studio/extinction.

Lucas:

That's S C I N T I L L A dot

Lucas:

studio slash extinction to

Lucas:

download the first three monsters.

Lucas:

You can pay what you want for them.

Lucas:

And whatever we earn from that sale

Lucas:

will be donated directly to the

Lucas:

Center for Biological Diversity.

Lucas:

You can also keep up with the project

Lucas:

by joining our email list where I'll

Lucas:

be sharing more of the incredible,

Lucas:

true stories that surface through this

Lucas:

research or follow this podcast for more