The last remaining creature of any species is a sad sight. A while back when I was in London, I visited the museum of natural history in Kensington — a wonderful collection housed in a beautiful, ornate building from the early 1880s — where I saw small an exhibit on the Dodo Bird. Dodos may have existed for thousands and thousands of years on the island of Mauritius, but in less than one century they were gone.
They were big (over three feet tall and over 40 lbs), flightless birds with no natural predators on the island. But, about 80 years after the first Dutch sailors landed on the island, in 1598, they were gone. Between hungry sailors, and their equally hungry dogs and cats, the Dodos were done for.
For a long time people thought they were mythological creatures. Just stories told by previous visitors to the island and illustrations in books. But they existed, leaving behind traces in natural history collections. A fossilized Dodo egg here a carefully preserved feather there — bits and pieces adding up to the last of its kind.
Best known as a Lewis Carroll character or as a joke in old cartoons, the Dodo bird eventually became symbolic of irrelevance. It was as if they didn’t matter at all.
What about other lasts? The intolerable loneliness of being the only one, the horror of impending extinction… how must the last of a monster species feel? I’m certain that I could write a story full of pathos for the last monster. Imagine howling at the moon and receiving no reply.
In our time, when our human monsters (serial killers, dictators, etc.) take center stage, has the big, hairy beast become as irrelevant as the Dodo? I don’t think so.
I think that there is always room at the table for a monster.