The Market That Sells Extinct Animals

The Market That Sells Extinct Animals

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Today’s story is neither long nor complicated, but I think it’s important, because it pops a hole in one of the most common misunderstandings we have in the West. That there is nothing left on this planet to discover. There are no more explorers going deep into jungles to find obscure creatures. There’s just nothing left. Science has it covered, but this is not a discovered world. It’s a world undergoing discovery. Science is not just something that happens in a laboratory with lab coats and sterile rooms. To grow our known universe you don’t have to look to the stars or deep into bacteria. All you have to do is take a walk through the market, maybe even eat a rat. One of the greatest tricks that your mind plays on you is making you believe that wherever you grew up is the standard. It’s the normal place where people do the normal things and eat the normal foods. But you’re not normal. Nobody is – at least no more or less normal than anybody else. As a Canadian it can be hard to remember that we’re 30 million people in a world of 7 billion. That’s half a percent. The world is a giant, complex and incredible place. And the only real way to learn is to go find something abnormal and make it your own. The same is true of science. The era we think of as the golden age of scientific discovery lived by this very principle. Amateur botanists and biologists, much like Charles Darwin, sailed around the world collecting and analyzing species that they encountered on their way. Adding them, so to speak, to the overall body of science. Now imagine that you wanted to find a new mammal. How would you go about it? Chances are you’d head somewhere relatively untouched, somewhere humans hadn’t already eaten virtually everything to extinction. Forests that still had old growths, or a region where people simply didn’t live. Beyond that, you’d want to find a place where Western eyes had spent very little time looking around. And that doesn’t offer a whole lot of places. But it does offer Laos. Laos remains relatively cut off from Western science and has never truly garnered a great deal of interest from foreign powers. Colonial France treated it like a backwater. It’s jungles are malarial and incredibly dense, and its extreme poverty means that locals have yet to catch up to the point that they’re providing a great deal of data on their own. On top of that It’s the most bombed country on Earth. Unexploded ordnance are everywhere. Especially in the jungle. Walking off the beaten path is a legitimate risk to your life, So not a lot of people are doing it –
particularly Westerners. Yet, we’re pretty certain that there are still dozens of mammals in the jungles of Laos waiting to be discovered, and we know this because we keep discovering them. Every half a dozen years or so a researcher trumpets an entirely new species completely unknown to science. Never before seen, never before recorded and sometimes never even envisioned. So how do we keep finding them? Well, the market. After all, Western science isn’t comprised of every humans experience. Most people aren’t collecting and analyzing everything they see. Particularly if they consider it normal. There’s no question that the animals Darwin encountered were already known to somebody. They’d been given names, myths, and undoubtedly even recipes from people who lived nearby, But they weren’t known to science. They weren’t – for a lack of a better word – discovered. Which brings me back to the market. I want to focus on a meat market in the city of Thakhek in central Laos. It’s by no means abnormal in this country, but to me It’s a pretty chaotic and crazy place. For those of us who grew up in the West there’s a certain expectation of what a meat market offers, of how meat is viewed. A few standard staple animals behind glass, refrigerated and carved into cuts that most people can name by heart. Systematic, methodological and repeatable – meat science basically. But that’s not how it is in Laos. Need here is more based on what’s available than a truly repeatable pattern. Food is still seasonal, prices are debatable and stalls still sell bush meat direct from the forest. There’s no government inspector coming to check for health code violations. There’s no brand name to let you know how your prosciutto will taste, but there are wild animals. Unknown animals. To a researcher, a meat market in Laos sells more than dinner. It sells scientific discovery. It’s almost like a crowd-sourced way to find every animal under the sun. Particularly as the classic forms of meat are becoming harder to catch in the face of increased hunting, smaller, secondary animals are showing up more. And as horrible as that is for our world’s biodiversity it’s a blessing to science. In the past few decades alone, the meat markets of Southeast Asia have produced about a half a dozen new species. Here in the market of Thakhek in 2005 a researcher named Paulina Jenkins found something called a Lazarus. Not the biblical version, but the rat. It’s called the Laotian rock rat, and the reason they refer to it as Lazarus is because before her discovery they’d imagined that it was extinct. It’s so different from any other type of rodent that it formed its own classification family. Fossil evidence suggests that there wasn’t a rat like this in the last 11 million years, but it isn’t even rare. That’s the part that really sticks out to me, the Laotian rock rat isn’t extinct. It’s not even endangered. It’s actually quite common in this region. We simply didn’t know about it. And there have been many more examples. Markets of Southeast Asia have produced the saola, the giant muntjac, the Indo-Chinese warty pig and more. There’s little doubt in the years to come that we will see more and more of these creatures showing up in the market. The only question is, who will be here to discover them? It could be you. This is Rare Earth.

100 thoughts on “The Market That Sells Extinct Animals

  • Rare Earth Post author

    Thanks to everyone who asked about our Patreon. I'll put out a full video when I get the time, but for those who want to jump the gun and get on board from the start, here's the link:

    It means a huge deal that so many have asked us to start an account. I never thought anyone would watch these videos, let alone support them.

  • John Tan Post author

    Amazing how westerners can support politicians bombing other humans in other countriesand at the same time concerned about Asians eating habits that has lasted for thousands of years.

  • Shubham Benani Post author

    #go vegan

  • Jurgen Els Post author

    This channel deserves millions of subscribers! Excellent content

  • Romandy Post author

    I found that trigger warning in the beginning of the video weird, especially since I am used to visiting butchers and dirty marketplaces to find food.

  • Purple Jak Post author

    When the pokemon you released start popping up in real life

  • gypsyandboots Post author

    I think you meant methodical, not methodological. It doesn't really fit the context of what you were saying.

  • euqirnE niuqaoJ Post author

    They aren’t extinct if they are selling it

  • Tyler Durden Post author

    You really suffer from existentialism …..

  • Rahul Dobhal Post author

    Loved the presentation!

  • gabriel celaya Post author

    Where are you from

  • skiie Post author

    Thanks for the bombs America lmao

  • Erik Barwick Post author

    Is it me or does he sound like dougdemuro the car reviewer.

  • Kidane Tower Post author

    Next discovery the oranpendek

  • Victor Arguello Post author

    they found a pokemon

  • American Nobody Post author

    Now I'm hungry!

  • Jester 88 Post author

    Til the Asians hunt them gone til they ain't left, Asians are brutal I'll tell you when it comes to hunting

  • Why Like This Post author


  • Sohail Rekhy Post author

    Great channel. Just found it. Thank you for the great visuals and top notch commentary.

  • M A Post author

    Basically, in order for it to be valid? It needs to be "discovered by a white man"

  • Scott Taylor Post author

    The Coelacanth is a lobed fish related to lungfish (near the evolutionary track for walking legs and breathing air) last seen in the Triassic. Until it was seen in a fish market in South Africa being sold as salmon.

  • equarg Post author

    Wow..I watched several of your videos and liked them.
    Am I suscribed? No.
    Wait….😊 now I am.

  • Charlie Newman Post author


  • Briana Isawesome Post author

    I do try to not eat dead beings. Humans are pretty fucked up.

  • Darkdjinn79 Post author

    They aren’t discovered because locals already now about them. It’s arrogant to think nothing happens without western intervention.

    It’s more accurate to say species aren’t properly cataloged or well know outside their local region.

    I’m sure if local university or hunter/fishers are trained to identify catches new information would come flooding out of these areas.

  • Donovan Wallace Post author

    Can you discover something that was already doscovered?

  • Jesiah Mac Post author

    Yes. Food is gross.

  • D U Post author

    Lol there are so many comments on these videos when you sort by new and I don't even know where they come from that just make no sense or hate for no reason whatsoever.

  • Iron Mountain Post author

    I can't believe I went this long on youtube without seeing any of your content! You tell a really captivating story, and it's been nice to binge watch your videos lol. Thanks for making these!

  • FizzWamper Post author

    You are like Michael from Vsauce, but with history and story telling.

  • holysocks Post author

    so you didnt find/show anything rare or undiscovered and just read off some google research… what's the point of even going there then… for some of those click baity clips of meat I guess

  • Fletcher Kern Post author

    Lol Canadians

  • surfinmuso Post author

    Not sure whose quote it is but it's something like "The main reason behind a school education is to kill curiosity"-imperialistic science is the same.

  • Mandy B Post author

    Should anyone who works for the BBC be watching this, please tell those who can commission programmes about this channel. These stories – and of course all of those who work on it! – are exactly the sort of thing which would fit into a number of programmes on the news: Reporters, the Travel Show and others. Or give him a full-scale series which could give us the sort of travelogue/history/science stories in a depth often missed. It would be a hit!

  • Mandy B Post author

    PS forgot to say, bloody fascinating story as ever! Thanks so much for all your hard work guys.

  • Mark Morales Post author

    Indo-Chinese Warty Pig!

    Hakuna Matata

  • Pura Vida’ Rick Post author

    IF there are THAT many animals roaming aroundthe jungles… the old ordanance should have been stepped on/ setoff many times over !

  • Choteevuth Post author


  • Journey awaits Post author

    2Pac and Elvis are hiding in Laos

  • Journey awaits Post author

    2Pac and Elvis are hiding in Laos

  • Calla Antoinette Post author

    I love all your shows but people need to stop eating meat. I haven't had it in 20 years. Maybe if we didn't feel entitled to take lives we wouldn't be so violent
    We don't need to know every animal and they would be better off without us

  • Shoot1st Post author

    There's only 7 billion people in the world?

  • AJ Post author

    Vegans are trembling

  • Karl Porter Post author

    I'll pass on the local delicacies and stick with the chicken.

  • Joseph M Post author

    He is going to make a great father one day…

  • Joseph M Post author

    Rare Journalism….meets Rare Earth. Mainstream Media is a necessary chore but this Channel is titillating and very informative.

  • Daina Zhou Post author

    just goes to show that "science" as we know it is still a western bias! or i mean, having something "not be discovered" is just like saying westerners just didn't classify it in their traditional classification method. But liek you said, just because they didnt know, didn't mean the locals haven't already been familiar with the flora/fauna around them. very cool! also, it's funny how growing up bicultural makes you very desensitized to things like raw meat and stuff all out on the streets haha.

  • FEEL_THE_PAIN Post author

    It's could be you… No thanks.

  • animal mother Post author

    Learn how to farm, stop wiping out endangered animals, we’ll teach you

  • Prime Samaung Post author

    R u ever going to start eating?

  • iJamie8467x Post author

    This is the reason shit like Ebola exists literally

  • oak4muthafaka Post author

    Dont like your videos because none of your claims are scientifically backed

  • Anik Samiur Rahman Post author

    Finally, by the Grace of meat market and Rare Earth, these animals will finally go extinct.

  • asher cicco Post author

    i am squeamish and i watched this and now i am going to barf and i just had lunch.

  • Dan the man Post author

    31 seconds I’m pretty sure is Cambodia not Laos

  • Allison Milewski Post author

    I'm loving the SEA series, especially because I lived in northern Laos for 2 years (and Cambodia for 3). Based on my experience, I'd like to suggest a slight edit/addition to your final question. You could have followed "Will it be you?" with a gesture to the young folks in the market and suggested "Or maybe a future scientist right here."

    Young Lao is a formidable demographic in the country, possessing an almost religious fervor for education, a hunger for global connection, and a profound respect for and knowledge about the remarkable natural world they've inherited. Spending time with these folks makes me really optimistic about Laos' future, even as the old guard tries to ring every kip they can from the country's ecological treasures. These kids are going to shake up this nation and teach us all a thing or two in the process.

  • Alexis2andsoOn Post author

    kept away from western science? well, if you dont count bombs and chemical agents…

  • M.Streicher Post author

    are you suicidal because eating that bowl of food is.

  • I am European Post author

    The warning at the beginning of the video…
    Warning, this was filmed in a marketplace
    Oh no, my worst fear

  • I am European Post author

    So you say meat directly from the forest is bad?
    It’s home grown, km0 y’know
    Keep it local

  • Fieroman121 Post author

    Very interesting. As an aside, most americans know nothing about the food they eat. Its actually kind of a shame. The industry as a whole is part of the american story and very much has its nuances and a rich history. As was said in the video, it almost a science now. Probably part of the reason there is such a disconnect.

  • Ander Jr Post author

    did he just intentonally filtered the video so that the blood looks black and avoids demonetization?

  • Red Butterfly Post author

    Westener always announces animals that are extinct and later found out not.. Why? Because they never really look for it. I can understand that earth is huge so its only right not to assume.

  • Georgie Dicks Post author

    I feel like you had a fantastic platform to talk about the trade in endangered species and the bushmeat trade but didn’t use it. Instead you glorified these markets and insinuated that they are fantastic data collection points.

    The illegal trade in wildlife is very much linked with human trafficking and drug trafficking, it’s a highly lucrative endeavour which has massive implications for the natural world.

    You should consider watching

    Racing Extinction and Virunga

    And reading the following article

  • Viktor Chernev Post author

    btw, rodents teeth are different then other mammals and many rodents' teeth are yellow-orange because of an iron compound in the enamel, and nothing to do with brushing. Great video, though.

  • Erk Post author

    The Predator is in the Loa jungle.

  • Turd Ferguson Post author

    I've been to Thakhek! I kinda wish I knew of this market but kinda glad I didn't. They can be so fascinating and yet so nauseating. Also delicious.

  • xRAINxOFxBLOODx Post author

    3:45 When I saw the pig parts flopping around my mind, for just a split second, was like "They're just rubber props".

  • Flojoe6274 Post author

    Poor animals.

  • Greg Wiens Post author

    I saw the same thing when I was in Myanmar last year. I was bringing prescription eyeglasses to people deep in the jungle.
    Off to Malawi next!

  • Knight Gabriel Guanzon Post author

    "There's a place for every single one of God's creature in this world…….right next to the mashed potatoes"
    -my uncle's t-shirt

  • JICHO 2017 Post author

    Hey… name is Alex from KENYA… have the best videos….I love history and you tell it very well…MAY GOD BLESS YOU and you the videos you make….may you HIT 100MILLION viewers….THANK YOU SO MUCH

  • Lazarus Douvos Post author

    stop promoting meat go vegan

  • David Buschhorn Post author

    I love mom's recipe for endangered meatloaf.

  • Rachelcookie321 Post author

    Gonna learn loa and walk around small Laos villages asking about the native animals now.

  • jtan163 Post author

    Bigfoot lives !!!!!

  • Adrian Post author

    Yeaah, I'm staying a vegetarian, a lot better seeing meat and animals like this than stuffed together in a tiny space full of drugs and hormones like we do in the west, that was kind of refreshing at least.

  • Peanut Matrix Post author

    if it's extinct, how is it for sale?

  • Al Post author

    Canada is literally less people and importance than california that's trippy

  • lutfijd Post author

    This is rare meat.

  • chao thao Post author

    Stop this fucer before thwy all die save the animals

  • James, Garden Mgmt. Post author

    I only eat the finest human stock.

  • The Big Lubarski Post author

    Dale: "Are you Chinese or Japanese?"
    Khan: "I'm Laotian!!"
    Dale: "What Ocean?"
    Khan: "Ahhhhg!! …I'm from the country Laos!! That make me Laotian!!"
    Dale: "Oh… So are you Chinese or Japanese?"

    –Classic 1st season "KING OF THE HILL" episode, from '97 when the first Asian family moved into the neighborhood, right next door to Hank and Peggy Hill; "Khan" & "Ming." I don't recall the daughter's name at the moment, but that was a great show. Mike Judge is the best! I know he was co-creator of the show, along with another person, the name of whom I am unable to recall at this time… Anyway, every time I hear about anything to do with Laos or the Laotian people, I always think of that bit from early "KING OF THE HILL"!

  • Commander Kocoli Post author

    My parents were Scandinavian, I fell terrible because, in Scandinavia we have the best living conditions. At the same time I fell lucky, but I fell embarrassed that not everyone, have the same level of life as me.

  • Rajiv Kaushal Post author

    How come you dont have 5 million subscribers already… You are one of the best on internet..

  • Deyvson Moutinho Caliman Post author

    I saw pigs being killed and skinned when I was a child many times just in front of my house. My grandfather raised and killed them himself until he got too old to do it, and my father started killing the pigs them with the help of his brothers helped. Nothing was for sale, just for consumption in my small town in Brazil. It was quite brutal, sometimes hot water to skin the pig was thrown over it before it was completely dead, and the pig, after having stop squealing for like 10 minutes, after like half an hour of bleeding through his heart and showing no signs of being alive, would start squealing again.

    The squeal is so ugly, that Hollywood often use pig squeals as monsters or demons noises from hell, even the movie Twister about hurricanes used pig squeal as a noise to demonstrate the horror of a strong hurricane. I never ate meat in my life, and probably part of it is because I know how animals are killed. They say children always learn what they see, but even very young, almost a baby, I could judge by myself that it was not something I would do ever.

  • GrassPossum Post author

    You may eat the rat. I'll have a piece of chicken or fish, thanks.

  • GrassPossum Post author

    Long pig? That's a Maori cannibal term for human meat.

  • Toyang Santos Post author

    Take that vegans most asian people get there meat in that kind of market and we dont simply care

  • Astronomically Correct G Post author

    You….you Canadian

  • Lê Hoài Bắc Baryonix Post author

    The “Laos Rock Rat” has some group in middle of Vietnam.
    In Vietnam we call them:” Ninh Cung” – meaning : Monkey rat

  • Natural Preserves Post author

    Okay so honestly when you talked about going off the beaten path due to leftover mines and stuff I thought about random animals strolling along and getting blown up every so often. I bet it happens 😂

  • Lee Steal Post author

    This was excellent.

  • Something Something Something Post author

    'Normal' is a matter of perspective.

  • Selfish Stockton Post author

    If this video left you squeamish…grow up

  • 💙💙💙 Post author

    When he said it could be you, I was like NO THANKS SIR.

  • Demon DiCaprio Post author

    Africans probably eating a Mammoth as we speak…

  • alphagamer047 Post author

    Humans are disgusting.

  • Chiao Lim Post author

    Wait! You didn’t eat any of them? I came to the wrong channel

  • John White Post author

    He says it might even be you that discovers it, hahaha. Most of the people watching this don't even know where Laos is, if they have heard of it it was probably in a video game, and 90% of them have never left their country much less their continent. You are talking to the people of the internet Canadian, you have far too much belief in them.

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