17 Endangered Species That Are Also Bands

1: Alabama Heelsplitter


This richly colored Gulf mussel, with a shell like polished leather in a college library, plays bluegrass with a strain of Lynyrd Skynyrd.


2:Leadbeater’s Possum


The official “faunal emblem” of the Australian state of Victoria, this native of Australia’s central highlands opens for Alabama Heelsplitter and adopts a wry, collegiate irony toward the whole Southern-rock thing.


3: Meshweaver

An eyeless spider from the karst caves of Bexar Country, Texas, it emerges as a jam band sometimes seen on the third stage at Bonnaroo.


4: Devil’s River Minnow

Another Texan, distinguished by a dark lateral face-stripe, the dionda diaboli plays old-timey songs of murder and sorrow.


5: Texas Blind Salamander

Swing, of course.  When courting and breeding in the Purgatory Creek System, specializes in mating rituals involving tail-rubbing and gravel-kicking.


6: Resplendent Quetzal


This specialist in shimmering, Latin-toned world music was long known for committing suicide when caged, and so became a symbol of Mayan liberty.  Signed to a label contract in 2004, it now breeds successfully in captivity.


7: Slender Chub

A ray-finned fish whose Wikipedia page is a stub indicating that it lives “only in America.”  Perfected whiny college rock built around callow lyrical paradoxes while attending UVA.  Wishes you would expand the stub.


8: Damselfly

An insect of the order odonata, resembles the dragonfly but with wings parallel rather than perpendicular to the body; a weaker flyer than its cousin, it plays enchanting but sometimes precious songs of longing and heartbreak.


9: Slackwater Darter

One of the stippled darters, with a faux-hawk that, I don’t mind saying, takes some upkeep, brings you its supple but glib indy pop from the highlands of southwestern Tennessee.


1o: Watercress Darter

Affecting Union Jack colors on its dorsal fins despite origins in the Black Warrior River basin of Alabama, it sounds a lot like the Slackwater Darter, but with an implausible English accent


11: Relict Darter

Though nondescript and isolated when at home in Kentucky, can really kick out the upbeat Dead-cover jams on the road.


12: Tooth Cave Pseudo Scorpion

Another Texan, with no eyes, twelve abdominal segments, and a deep catalog of ‘80s metal covers.


13: Pygmy Hog

Y’allternative, which is saying something for a mammal found only in India’s Assam state.  Thomas Friedman is planning a column proving that the world is flat and full of fiddle tunes.


14: Purple Cat’s Paw


Thought extinct by 1990 after a punishing decade, this mussel astonished admirers by reappearing in Killbuck Creek, Ohio, in 1994 with its draggy, seductive lounge sounds a bit smokier but otherwise no worse for wear.


15: Round Island Day Gecko


Decades of ponderous Vegas lounge crooning have left this leathery Madagascar native hard to love but even harder to get rid of.


16: New Holland Mouse


After disappearing from sight between 1843 and 1967, this small and droopy Australian is now ubiquitous thanks to its distinctive electronica.


17: Goliath Frog

The largest anuran on earth, the foot-long, seven-pound Goliath Frog has only ever played straight-up rock and roll.


Jedediah Purdy: A way with rebar.