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I am looking for a short story, probably prior to 1990. Each chapter of the story begins with which species has gone extinct. The Extinctions are mentioned in the daily newspaper starting out very small, things we can't see. Every day (or so) the newspaper headlines state which species is gone with the last entry being "Bears have gone Extinct". Which means we are close to being next.

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  • Species do go extinct all the time in real life. Does the story contain any science-fictional or fantastical elements? Are the extinctions caused by sorcery, or space aliens, or a mad scientist's invention?
    – user14111
    Mar 14 at 20:11
  • The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert looked promising from reviews, which mentioned an extinction every chapter, but apparently they are not headlines. Also, nonfiction.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 14 at 20:43

1 Answer 1

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If it were dogs rather than bears, this would be a good fit to And Us, Too, I Guess, a novella by George Alec Effinger from 1973. In the story, various species spontaneously go extinct, overnight, for no apparent reason. The process was first noticed when a breed of tropical fish ("mollies"), went extinct, then a type of fungus, and so on. Once people start to realise what is happening, the extinctions are indeed posted as headlines in the newspapers:

Each day the Cleveland States printed a little box on the front page, much as at Christmas a record of “shopping days left” is kept. The box was outlined with a heavy black border, and centered within, in small type, was the name of the species that, biologists had decided, had gone extinct the previous day, with a mawkish photo of it. It’s hard to jerk a tear with a picture of a scarce Australian peat moss; but I’ll never forget the day the kaji lemur passed away. Those huge, pleading eyes turned my stomach.

Bears are briefly mentioned when the central character, Paul Moran muses on people's apathy to the news of the extinctions:

Paul was content to skim a small portion of the debates and wait anxiously for something big to go: bears. What if every bear in the world died? Wouldn’t that cause a fight?

People continue to go about their business as usual, largely ignoring the progress, until panic sets in when the dogs start dying. As the first line of the novella reads, "It was certainly a quiet cataclysm."

The story is available in the anthology Chains of the Sea from the Internet Archive.

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