mass extinction

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6th Mass Extinction Is Speeding Along. It's 'Entirely Our Fault'

Humanity is 'sawing off the limb on which it is sitting'

(Newser) - Biodiversity is critical for human life, which makes the latest study on it especially troubling. In research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the sixth mass extinction we're currently undergoing, scientists looked at threatened-species data from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature,... More »

Sorry, Climate Change. There's Another Problem

Tamar Stelling has a new way to measure Earth's loss of species

(Newser) - Climate change isn't our only environmental problem—and evidence lies in the North Sea. Back in the 16th century a Dutch fishmonger could witness "whales everywhere, as far as the eye can see," writes Tamar Stelling at the Correspondent . "Some majestically spring from the water as... More »

Study Raises Alarming Stat About the World's Plants

Researchers say at least 571 species have disappeared in 250 years, far more than animals

(Newser) - "Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few can name an extinct plant," says Aleys Humphreys, co-author of a gloomy new study on the fate of the planet's plants. Here, then, are three plants that have disappeared in... More »

Insects Could Disappear Within a Century

New global survey provides doomsday warning to world's ecosystem

(Newser) - Insects could completely disappear within the next 100 years, dragging global ecosystems into a catastrophic collapse. The world is embarking on its sixth mass extinction , and the first global scientific review points to a grim outlook for the planet's insects, reports the Guardian . Massive declines have already been seen... More »

Primate Study Finds It's 'Worse Than We Thought'

75% are in decline, 60% at risk of extinction

(Newser) - "It's worse than we thought 10 years ago," a researcher says following a "landmark" study on the world's primates that found many could go extinct in the next 50 years. Primatologists studied every primate species—all 504 of them—and found 75% are in decline,... More »

Could an 'Ark in a Freezer' Bring Back Lost Animals?

'Inside the tanks are the animals'

(Newser) - Inside the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research a few miles outside the city, in an unassuming building that smells like cleaning supplies, is the Frozen Zoo. It's an ark, really—"an ark in a freezer!" as Zach Baron writes in a feature article for GQ... More »

First Mass Extinction Likely Caused by 'Utterly Weird' Animals

Animals shaped like 'Frisbees and lumpy mattresses' may have killed early Ediacarans

(Newser) - New fossil evidence dug up in Namibia lends credence to the theory that we should blame "ecosystem engineers" for the world's first mass extinction, and that's not a euphemism for man, asteroids, or aliens. Instead, per a Vanderbilt University study published in the October issue of the... More »

More Than Half of Amazon Tree Species Are Threatened

Study marks percentage of endangered trees for first time

(Newser) - More than half of the Amazon's 15,000 tree species may be facing extinction if governments can't curb deforestation, a new study says. Researchers reached this conclusion by comparing ground-level data on trees—about their leaves, branches, diameters, and so on—to projected deforestation across the vast South... More »

Here's What Caused Earth's First Mass Extinction

Let's see what happened to the docile Ediacarans

(Newser) - Biologists have long debated how the planet's first mass extinction took place 540 million years ago. Was it a huge meteorite or terrifying volcanic eruption, typical of Earth's other mass extinctions? Nope, per a recent paper that says it offers the first "critical test" of the theory... More »

Mass Extinction Underway, Will Kill Off Humans: Report

Current extinction rate is shocking, scientists say

(Newser) - Feeling upbeat? Enough of that: Planet Earth is undergoing a sixth mass extinction that will likely annihilate the human race unless we can curb the trend, scientists say. According to a new paper , the current rate of species extinction outpaces the natural rate far more than anyone knew, NBC News... More »

Worst Case for Oceans: Another 'Great Dying'

Study blames Permian mass extinction on ocean acidity

(Newser) - The planet's greatest extinction —the Permian mass extinction, or the "Great Dying"—wiped out around 90% of marine species and two-thirds of those on land over 60,000 years. Some 252 million years later, researchers are explaining what happened—and it may not bode well for... More »

'Bad Timing' Wiped Out Dinosaurs

Asteroid hit at just the wrong time, researchers say

(Newser) - The huge asteroid that hit Earth 66 million years ago was very bad timing for the dinosaurs, a new study says—it wiped them out, but they probably would have survived if it had hit at a "more convenient" time. The impact in what is now Mexico is almost... More »

World on Brink of 6th Great Extinction

Humanity has raised extinction rate a thousandfold

(Newser) - Human activity is wiping out species of plants and animals at a dizzying rate, leaving the world on the verge of the sixth great extinction in its history, a new study warns. Researchers found that species are vanishing around 10 times faster than previously believed—and 1,000 times faster... More »

Villain That Nearly Killed All Life on Earth Is ... Tiny

Methane-producing microbe gets the blame 250M years ago

(Newser) - Name your favorite culprit for the mass extinction that wiped out nearly every life form on Earth 250 million years ago. A spectacular asteroid, perhaps? Massive volcanic eruptions? Both are popular theories, but a new study encourages sleuths of the Permian era to think much, much smaller, reports the Guardian... More »

Erasing Almost All Life on Earth Took Just 60K Years

Study: That's give or take 48K years, 'practically instantaneous'

(Newser) - Roughly 252 million years ago, an extreme animal die-off occurred: 70% of land animals and 96% of marine life were obliterated, in what's known as the Permian mass extinction. What scientists still don't exactly know is why (an asteroid? volcanic eruptions?), but they now know how long it... More »

How Giant Rats Could Someday Rule the Earth

Bank on it after the next mass extinction, says scientists

(Newser) - The future could belong to rats—perhaps enormous ones. So say scientists in Britain, based on a thought experiment. Geological historian Jan Zalasiewicz notes that some of his colleagues fear the planet could be headed for its next mass extinction in the next several centuries, thanks to humans' detrimental effects... More »

Meet the 66M-Year-Old Ancestor of Mammals

Scientists come up with theoretical creature

(Newser) - Say hello to your great-great-great-great-great-grandparents (times a few million or so)—Protungulatum donnae, a rat-sized insect eater believed to have lived 66 million years ago. A new six-year study of the mammalian family tree, looking at DNA and anatomical evidence in greater detail than ever before, has identified Protungulatum donnae... More »

New Study Offers Proof: Asteroid Wiped Out Dinos

New study puts mass extinction within 32K years of meteor

(Newser) - Paleontologists and dinosaur nerds have long debated what killed off the "terrible lizards"— one meteor or many , volcanoes , or something else. Now one researcher says he has the answer: an asteroid believed to be about six miles wide that landed in the Caribbean about 66 million years ago.... More »

Coral Reefs Gone by Century's End

Not just pretty: end of reefs often signals mass extinction events

(Newser) - Climate change and the acidification of the oceans—along with overfishing, coastal development, and pollution—will destroy the Earth's coral reefs in as little as 30 years, reports the Independent . The mass-bleaching in the Indian Ocean in 1998 alone destroyed 16% of the world's reefs in just a... More »

We're Headed for Vast Ocean Extinction: Panel

Human activity is rapidly wiping out marine life, panel warns

(Newser) - Human activity has degraded the world's oceans with dizzying speed and a mass extinction of marine life only seen five times before in the planet's history is likely if urgent action is not taken, a panel of marine experts warns. The International Program on the State of the... More »

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