An endling is an individual that is the last of its species or subspecies. Once the endling dies, the species becomes extinct. The word was coined in correspondence in the scientific journal Nature. Alternative names put forth for the last individual of its kind include ender and terminarch. The word relict may also be used but usually refers to a group that is the last of the species.
The April 4, 1996 issue of Nature published a correspondence in which commentators suggested that a new word, endling, be adopted to denote the last individual of a species. The May 23rd issue of Nature published several counter-suggestions, including ender, terminarch, and relict.
The word endling appeared on the walls of the National Museum of Australia in Tangled Destinies, a 2001 exhibition by Matt Kirchman and Scott Guerin about the relationship between Australian peoples and their land. In the exhibition, the definition as it appeared in Nature was printed in large letters on the wall above two specimens of the extinct Tasmanian tiger: "Endling (n.) The last surviving individual of a species of animal or plant." A printed description of this exhibition offered a similar definition, omitting reference to plants: "An endling is the name given to an animal that is the last of its species."
In The flight of the emu: a hundred years of Australian ornithology 1901-2001, author Libby Robin states that "the very last individual of a species" is "what scientists refer to as an 'endling'".
In 2011, the word was used in the Earth Island Journal, in an essay by Eric Freedman entitled Extinction is Forever: A Quest for the Last Known Survivors. Freedman defined endling as "the last known specimen of her species."
In The sense of an endling, author Helen Lewis describes the notion of an endling as poignant, and the word as "wonderfully Tolkien-esque".
In Cut from history, author Eric Freedman describes endling as "a word with finality." He opines, "It is deep-to-the-bone chilling to know the exact date a species disappeared from Earth. It is even more ghastly to look upon the place where it happened and know that nobody knew or cared at the time what had transpired and why."
- Jorgensen, Dolly (April 13, 2013). "Naming and claiming the last". Retrieved 26 January 2014.
- Robert M. Webster & Bruce Erickson (April 4, 1996). "The last word?". Nature 380 (386).
- Elaine Andrews (April 4, 1996). "The last word". Nature 381 (272).
- "Tangled Destinies". National Museum of Australia. 2002. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Smith, Mike (2001). "The Endling exhibition, Tangled Destinies gallery, National Museum of Australia, Canberra, 2001". National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Robin, Libby (2002). The flight of the emu: a hundred years of Australian ornithology 1901-2001. Melbourne University Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-0522849875.
- Freedman, Eric (2011). "Extinction is Forever: A Quest for the Last Known Survivors". Earth Island Journal. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Lewis, Helen (June 27, 2012). "Sense of an endling". The New Statesman. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- Freedman, Eric (July 5, 2008). "Cut from history: An abandoned Tasmanian zoo tells the haunting tale of an ending". EJ Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-07-05. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- "Endangered Species Handbook" (pdf). Animal Welfare Institute. 1983. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
- Blythe, Anne (August 27, 2012). "Extinct Carolina Parakeet still fascinates". www.newsobserver.com. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "Heath Hen (Extinct)". BeautyOfBirds (formerly Avian Web). Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Lewis, Robert; Arnold, David (2002). "Tangled Destinies: Exploring land and people in Australia over time through the National Museum of Australia". ISBN 0-949380-41-5. Archived from the original on July 2011.
- Richard Gray and Roger Dobson (January 31, 2009). "Extinct ibex is resurrected by cloning". The Telegraph. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Valencia, Alexandra; Garcia, Eduardo (24 June 2012). "Lonesome George, last-of-his-kind Galapagos tortoise, dies". Reuters.