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I read this story in 2011 and haven't stopped trying to find it. It may have been in an older anthology book from around the 1970s or '80s, and may have been titled "The Lottery".

It was about a scientist sent to the distant past, with a machine which gave out evolutionary lines to make extinct. The scientist was on a boat and the machine spit out humans as one of the lines. The scientist plucked a creature out of the ocean that was an early human ancestor, and then climbed into the water to float while feeling herself fade out of existence.

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    Hi, welcome to the site. In roughly which year did you read this story? Dec 11, 2021 at 6:15
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    hello, thank you! It would have been 2011, but the teacher who had the book had a pretty large collection of older books, 1970s/80s or so. I tried emailing her a few years back but she unfortunately didn't have any information for me.
    – kat
    Dec 11, 2021 at 6:20
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    @kat - Now you have an excuse to email her back :-)
    – Valorum
    Dec 11, 2021 at 9:15

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This sounds very much like "The Lottery", a short story by the New Zealand author Lucy Sussex. I have not read it myself, but the most detailed review I can find online describes it as:

a scientist of the future tries to save the human species by traveling in a time machine over five hundred million years into the past, to an era that precedes any creature more evolved than the earliest organisms that swam in the earth's first oceans.

It was first published in 1993, in an anthology entitled "The Lottery: Nine Science Fiction Stories". Possibly this is the book you remember.

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    A note that this is, obviously I suppose, not Shirley Jackson's famous short story, "The Lottery".
    – BruceWayne
    Dec 11, 2021 at 20:29

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