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News articles on extinction
Mongabay.com news articles on extinction in blog format. Updated regularly.
(10/25/2006) Loss of biodiversity will have an ecologically-costly impact according to a study published in the journal Nature this week. The new study, headed by a biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), found that species extinction will reduce nature's ability to maintain ecological balance and "services" such as water filtration, nutrient cycling, and pollination.
400 million year old gives evolutionary clues
(10/19/2006) A fossil fish discovered in the West Australian Kimberley has been identified as the missing clue in vertebrate evolution, rewriting a century-old theory on how the first land animals evolved.
Extinction may be linked to Earth's tilt and orbital variations
(10/12/2006) A new study suggests that variations in Earth's orbit and tilt may be linked to extinctions of mammal species. Examining the fossilized teeth of rodents over a 22 million year period, researchers lead by Jan van Dam of Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that the disappearance of mammal species -- which survive an average of 2.5 million years before going exinct -- cluster around specific cycles at one million and 2.4 million years. The one million year cycle correponds to wobbles in Earth's orbit, while the 970,000-year cycle is tied to shifts of the Earth on its axis. The cycles are assocation with lower temperatures and changes in precipitation.
A look at the biodiversity extinction crisis
(10/07/2006) As tropical forests -- the world's biological treasure troves -- continue to dwindle, biologists are racing to devise ways to save them and their resident biodiversity. While many conservation biologists talk about population viability analysis and intricacies of reserve layouts, David L. Pearson, a research professor at the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe, Arizona, focuses on a different approach: education.
Not extinct? Ivory-billed Woodpecker may live in Florida
(09/26/2006) Researchers found evidence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a bird once believed to be extinct, in a remote river basin in the panhandle of Florida. The discovery, announced in Avian conservation and Ecology, was made in May 2005 by a research team led by Auburn University professor Geoff Hill. The bird was sighted on the Choctawhatchee River and though the team captured no photographs of the species.
Rare, 90-million-year-old tree for sale
(09/20/2006) IThe National Geographic Society announced it will sell the Wollemi Pine, one of the world's oldest and rarest trees, to consumers in the United States this holiday season. Fewer than 100 tree exist in the wild.
Recovery of biodiversity after dinosaurs was chaotic
(08/24/2006) The recovery of biodiversity after the end-Cretaceous mass extinction was much more chaotic than previously thought, according to paleontologists. New fossil evidence shows that at certain times and places, plant and insect diversity were severely out of balance, not linked as they are today. The extinction took place 65.5 million years ago. Labeled the K-T extinction, it marks the beginning of the Cenozoic Era and the Paleocene Epoch.
Ancient blue whale was a shark killer
(08/22/2006) A 25-million-year-old whale fossil from southeastern Australia suggests a curious origin for baleen whales. Presented at the at the Melbourne Museum last week, the fossil shows that earliest baleen whales were small, toothed and highly predatory creatures with enormous eyes -- virtually the opposite of the baleen whales we know today. These, like the blue whale and the humpback are gentle, toothless giants that feed on krill and other tiny organism.
Climate change, not hunters, killed ancient Australia's giant kangaroos
(08/16/2006) Scientists at the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University have found strong evidence for the cause of the extinction of Australia's giant marsupials some 50,000 years ago. Cold, arid climates of the last ice age have been identified as a likely cause, casting doubt on the alternative hypothesis which blames human hunters.
Frozen balls could bring mammoths back to life
(08/15/2006) Scientists have successfully bred mice using dead sperm extracted from frozen mice. The research raises the possibility that long-extinct species could one day be brought back to life.
NASA helps search for "exinct" woodpecker
(08/03/2006) Unlike its more famous cartoon cousin Woody the Woodpecker, the ivory-billed woodpecker is thought to be extinct, or so most experts have believed for over half a century.
West African black rhino may be extinct
(07/17/2006) Recent surveys conducted by IUCN in northern Cameroon found no evidence of the West African black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes). The organization fears the sub-species is now extinct in the wild.
$400-Million Initiative Proposed to Address Amphibian Crisis
(07/09/2006) Fifty of the leading amphibian researchers in the world have called for a new Amphibian Survival Alliance, a $400-million initiative to help reduce and prevent amphibian declines and extinctions -- an ecological crisis of growing proportion that continues to worsen.
Frog extinction crisis requires unprecedented conservation response
(07/06/2006) The world's leading amphibian experts are calling for dramatic steps, including the formation of an Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA), to prevent the massive extinction of amphibians worldwide. Scientists say amphibians -- cold-blooded animals that include frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians -- are under grave threat due to climate change, pollution, and the emergence of a deadly and infectious fungal disease, which has been linked to global warming. According to the Global Amphibian Assessment, a comprehensive status assessment of the world's amphibian species, one-third of the world's 5,918 known amphibian species are classified as threatened with extinction. Further, at least 9, and perhaps 122, have gone extinct since 1980.
Birds Face Extinction Risk Due To Human Activities
(07/05/2006) Human activities have caused some 500 bird species worldwide to go extinct over the past five millennia, and 21st-century extinction rates likely will accelerate to approximately 10 additional species per year unless societies take action to reverse the trend, according to a new report. Without the influence of humans, the expected extinction rate for birds would be roughly one species per century.
1250 bird species may be extinct by 2100
(07/04/2006) Two new studies paint a mixed future for the world's bird populations, one suggesting that 12 percent of existing species could be extinct by 2100 and the other finding shifts in migration patterns among birds that migrate long distances. Researchers at Stanford University, Duke University and the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis examined the extinction record for birds and found that scientists have likely underestimated the number of extinctions.
'Extinct' frog rediscovered in Colombia
(05/18/2006) Researchers exploring a Colombian mountain range found surviving members of a species of Harlequin frog believed extinct due to a killer fungus wiping out amphibian populations in Central and South America. The discovery of what could be the last population of the painted frog (Atelopus ebenoides marinkellei) indicates the species has survived the fungus, providing hope that other species also might avoid elimination from the epidemic caused by a pathogenic fungus of unknown origin.
Man may be responsible for prehistoric extinctions
(05/05/2006) New research suggests that prehistoric horses in Alaska may have been hunted into extinction by man, rather than doomed by climate change as previously thought. Until now the leading theory said that the demise of wild horses occurred during a period of climate cooling long before the extinction of mammoths and the arrival of humans from Asia.
16,119 species at risk of extinction
(05/02/2006) The number of known threatened species reaches 16,119. The ranks of those facing extinction are joined by familiar species like the polar bear, hippopotamus and desert gazelles; together with ocean sharks, freshwater fish and Mediterranean flowers. Positive action has helped the white-tailed eagle and offers a glimmer of hope to Indian vultures. The total number of species declared officially Extinct is 784 and a further 65 are only found in captivity or cultivation. Of the 40,177 species assessed using the IUCN Red List criteria, 16,119 are now listed as threatened with extinction. This includes one in three amphibians and a quarter of the world's coniferous trees, on top of the one in eight birds and one in four mammals known to be in jeopardy
Climate change is serious threat to biodiversity
(04/11/2006) The Earth could see massive waves of species extinctions around the world if global warming continues unabated, according to a new study published in the scientific journal conservation Biology.
Tropical deforestation rates to slow in future - new study
(04/06/2006) As human population growth rates diminish in coming years deforestation rates are expected to slow according to research published in Biotropica online. The report offers hope that reduced rates of forest conversion can stave off a future extinction crisis in the tropics, where most of the world's biodiversity is found. Scientists estimate that as much as 50 percent of the planet's terrestrial biodiversity is found in tropical rainforests distributed around the world but the United Nations recently warned that the current rate of extinction is running 100 to 1,000 times the normal background rate.
Colombia's indigenous communities under threat warns UN agency
(04/05/2006) A humanitarian emergency is looming among Colombia's indigenous communities, with some threatened with extinction in the South American country's decades-long civil conflict, as irregular armed groups encroach upon their land, even torturing and killing their leaders, the United Nations refugee agency warned today.
Newly discovered rodent not so new or rare after all
(04/05/2006) The newly discovered species of rodent found in a marketplace in Central Laos turns out to not be so new or so rare after all. The Laotian rock rat (Laonastes aenigmamus), as the long-whiskered and stubby-legged rodent is now known, is a species believed to have been extinct for 11 million years. It is a member of a family that, until now, was only known from the fossil record. The species was first described by Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) researcher Dr. Robert Timmins after it was found on a table at a hunter's market in central Laos. In a return trip to the market, WCS conservationist Peter Clyne found the rats to be quite common, photographing several specimens. According to Clyne, the rat is commonly brought in by hunters and eaten by local people.
Lack of oxygen triggers sex imbalance in fish
(03/29/2006) Oceanic oxygen depletion resulting from agricultural run-off and pollution can trigger sex imbalance in fish and pose an extinction risk according to a new study published by researchers in Hong Kong. The finding raises new concerns about "dead zones",expanses of water so devoid of oxygen that most sea life cannot survive.
Past mass extinction events linked to climate change
(03/29/2006) Most mass extinctions were caused by gradual climate change rather than catastrophic asteroid impacts says Peter Ward, a paleontologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, in an upcoming article in New Scientist magazine.
Global biological diversity in decline
(03/20/2006) Global biological diversity is increasingly threatened according to a report released by at the outset of the largest biodiversity conference in more than a decade. More than 3000 delegates and 100 government ministers have gathered in Curitiba, Brazil at the eighth Convention on Biological Diversity to discuss the outlook for Earth's species.
Crazy jungle rodent is 11 million years old
(03/09/2006) The newly discovered species of rodent found in a marketplace in Central Laos turns out to not be so new after all. The Laotian rock rat, as the long-whiskered and stubby-legged rodent is now known, is a species believed to have been extinct for 11 million years. It is a member of a family that, until now, was only known from the fossil record.
New extinction hotspots identified
(03/07/2006) Scientists have identified 20 potential extinction hotspots where hunting and human-caused habitat destruction are set to suffer significant declines in animal populations in coming years. In developing their map of future extinction hotspots, the researchers analyzed current and predicted IUCN Red List data on the extinction risk to almost 4,000 species of land mammals. Their roster includes areas not typically found on lists of the world's most imperiled habitats, including Greenland, the Patagonian coast of South America, and Siberian tundra.
Study finds deforestation has pushed orangutans to brink of extinction
(01/24/2006) A three year genetic study by wildlife geneticists from Cardiff School of Biosciences has shown a population collapse in the Bornean orang-utan.
Plants face extinction threat due to lack of sex
(01/16/2006) The decline of birds, bees and other pollinators may be putting plants at risk of extinction according to a new study.
Extinctions linked to climate change
(01/11/2006) A new report that links global warming to the recent extinction of dozens of amphibian species in tropical America is more evidence of a large phenomena that may affect broad regions, many animal species and ultimately humans, according to researchers at Oregon State University.
Pollination networks may play key role in extinction
(01/04/2006) As animal extinctions continue at the rate of one every 16 years, it's unclear how declining biodiversity will disturb ecosystem dynamics. Of special concern are the pollinators, essential players in the reproductive biology of plants, the earth's primary producers.
Is Global Warming Killing Polar Bears? -- WSJ
(12/14/2005) Today The Wall Street Journal ran an article asking "Is Global Warming Killing the Polar Bears?" The article cited several recent studies that suggest polar bears are increasingly under threat from receding ice and warming temperatures.
794 species on brink of extinction find study
(12/12/2005) Protecting 595 sites around the world would help address an imminent global extinction crisis, according to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Conducted by scientists working with the 52 member organizations of the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE), the study identifies 794 species threatened with imminent extinction by virtual of existing at only a single remaining site on Earth. The study found that just one-third of the sites are known to have legal protection, and most are surrounded by human population densities that are approximately three times the global average. Safeguarding these sites is key to saving these species from extinction say the authors of the study.
Poisonous volcanic gas probably caused worst mass extinction says new study
(12/02/2005) The mass extinction event at the end of the Permian -- where more than two-thirds of reptile and amphibian families perished and 95% of oceans life forms became extinct -- was probably caused by poisonous volcanic gas, according to research published in the journal Geology. The researchers believe that volcanic gases from the eruption depleted earth's protective ozone layer and acidified the land and sea.
Giant, human-sized scorpion discovered
(12/01/2005) Tracks made 330 million years ago by a 1.6 meter-long (5 ft 3 inches) water scorpion have been discovered in Scotland.
Humans hunted giant lemurs to extinction
(11/14/2005) Madagascar's first inhabitants probably hunted the island's largest animals to extinction according to research published in the November issue of the Journal of Human Evolution.
Demise of passenger pigeon linked to Lyme disease
(11/14/2005) Traditionally, the passenger pigeon has been held as one of the more beloved animal species to fall prey to humankind's often relentless expansion into and disregard for the natural world and its creatures. Once abundant, the bird experienced a rapid decline in the late 1800s, due almost entirely to rampant hunting, and the last passenger pigeon died in 1914. In light of new findings however, this image of a naturally plentiful species laid to waste by man is now being tested. Evidence collected over the past few years from a significant number of Native American archeological sites is beginning to upset long-accepted beliefs about one of the most famous extinct species in modern history.
conservation groups sue Bush administration over endangered species delays
(11/09/2005) A coalition of conservation groups filed a complaint late yesterday against the Bush Administration for delaying protection of hundreds of wildlife species as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, leaving 283 plants and animals on a perpetual candidate waiting list. Since passage of the Act, at least 24 candidate species have gone extinct waiting for protection.
Supernova could be responsible for extinction of the mammoth
(09/24/2005) A distant supernova that exploded 41,000 years ago may have led to the extinction of the mammoth, according to research that will be presented tomorrow (Sept. 24) by nuclear scientist Richard Firestone of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
Palm oil plantations decimating orang-utans says report
(09/23/2005) UK company demand for palm oil, a vegetable oil found in one in ten products on supermarket shelves, is driving the orang-utan towards extinction, new research reveals. The `Oil for Ape Scandal', published today by Friends of the Earth and the world's leading orang-utan conservation groups, concludes that without urgent intervention the palm oil trade could cause the extinction of Asia's only great ape within 12 years.
How to save disappearing amphibians subject of meeting this weekend
(09/14/2005) Scientists are meeting this weekend to discuss strategies for addressing the global decline of amphibians. Earlier this year, the Global Amphibian Assessment, a survey of the planet's amphibian species, found that nearly a third (32%) of the world's amphibian species are threatened and 129 species have gone extinct since 1980.
Virunga hippo population falling rapidly from poaching
(09/12/2005) A new aerial survey shows that the hippo population in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo will soon be extinct due to rampant poaching for hippo teeth and meat, WWF warned today.
Global warming may have triggered worst mass extinction
(08/29/2005) A dramatic rise in carbon dioxide 250 million years ago may have caused global temperatures to soar and result in Earth's greatest mass extinction, according to a study published in the September issue of Geology. Global warming, which may have produced temperatures 10 to 30 degrees Celsius higher than today, would have had a significant impact both on oceans, where about 95% of lifeforms became extinct, and on land, where almost 75% of species died out.
Madagascar lemurs descended from single primate ancestor, finds study
(07/11/2005) Yale biologists have managed to extract and analyze DNA from giant, extinct lemurs, according to a Yale study published in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Evolutionary analysis of the DNA obtained from the extinct giants reveals that they, like the living lemurs, are descended from a single primate ancestor that colonized Madagascar more than 60 million years ago.
16% of frogs species in Sri Lanka may be gone, new survey finds
(07/02/2005) In a study published Thursday in Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, researchers confirmed the discovery of 35 new frog species in Sri Lanka over the past decade brining the number of frog species in the island country to 105. However, the survey found that 17 of these species have disappeared and at least another 11 face imminent extinction unless their habitat is protected.
Toad on brink of extinction, scientists race to study for bioactive compounds
(06/29/2005) Following the construction of a dam in Tanzania, the Kihansi Spray Toad sits on the brink of extinction. Scientists are racing to study the amphibian for bioactive compounds with potential medical applications.
25 percent of the world's 625 primate species at risk of extinction
(04/07/2005) 25 percent of the world's 625 primate species at risk of extinction
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