The process by which these animals gained their symbolic power had several complex roots. Revolutions in the sciences of biogeography and geology encouraged scientists to think in terms of species extinction for the first time. The late-Enlightenment and early-Romantic critiques of European imperialism directed intellectuals' attention towards colonial injustices. Above all, intra-European rivalry made criticism of Russian imperialism particularly interesting to England and France, who sensed the possibility of expanding their influence in the North Pacific. Thus, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European conceptions of animal extinction were deeply entwined with the key scientific, political, and imperial developments of the time.
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