Are sentences 3 and 4 a good thesis statement in a persuasive essay on saving endangered animals?  If not, how can it be improved on? Extinction started out as a natural process before the arrival of humans. Countless species have gone extinct through the process of natural selection. The dinosaurs are the best known example of this. Today, man has populated the Earth to such an extent that habitat destruction and animal poaching are now the primary causes of species decline.  In order to make room for our ever-increasing population, humans have slashed, burned, and chopped their way into habitats, destroying species at a rate faster than they can replenish themselves.  Each person can contribute in even small ways to help save endangered animals.

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Sentences 3 and 4 are the following:

The dinosaurs are the best known example of this. Today, man has populated the Earth to such an extent that habitat destruction and animal poaching are now the primary causes of species decline.

Are they a good thesis statement? Let's break it down a bit. A thesis statement needs to be a single statement. Sentences 3 and 4 are two sentences, so you may want to combine them in order to form a thesis statement in a single sentence. Additionally, a thesis statement is often the final sentence of the opening paragraph.

Your thesis statement could be "The dinosaurs are the best known example of this." This statement can be improved by changing the final word. Don't assume your reader knows what "this" is. A better sentence is the following sentence. "The dinosaurs are the best known example of natural selection leading toward species extinction." This would work better, but based on the rest of the paragraph, I don't believe that this is the argument that you are trying to make. From the looks of it, I believe that your main argument is that individual people can help in small ways to prevent further extinction of existing species. If that is the case, then the dinosaur extinction and natural selection part is evidence that could be used to support your initial argument. The goofy part that I see thus far is that the argument is about how people can work toward preventing extinction, but much of the paragraph is about extinction events that happened long before people could have done anything. On the other hand, the paragraph also discusses poaching which doesn't fit nicely with natural selection. I do think both topics can be covered in a single thesis, and that will ultimately lead to a more well balanced and robust paper. For example:

"Although species have gone extinct through the process of natural selection, humans are a very real threat as well and can proactively find ways to stave off species extinctions."

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The introductory paragraph has an appropriate structure and thesis.  The strength of this thesis will really depend on the rest of the paper.  "Each person can contribute...to help save endangered animals" is a good statement.  You might consider removing "in even small ways" from the sentence to make your thesis more concise.  If this is a persuasive essay, you might want to change "can contribute" to "should contribute" but that really depends on what you are trying to prove.  The statement that people "can contribute" sounds like you will be discussing the various options available.  This might easily become more expository than persuasive.  The statement that people "should contribute" suggests that you will be trying to convince your audience why people should act rather than just how.  You can still write about the small ways people can help but from the perspective of persuasion rather than a simple statement of fact.  This means you should try to convince people that they should do these things and that these small steps are too simple not to do.

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