Extinction is coming.
Though, in large part, it already has. On Monday, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published an exhaustive report on the planet’s accelerating extinction rate. The report — compiled over three years by 145 scientific authors with input from over 300 more — found that the modern extinction rate is the highest it’s been in human history, and is “tens to hundreds of times” higher than the normal rate of extinction over the last 10 million years.
The toll from destroyed wilderness, exploiting critters for their horns and furs, accelerated climate change, and widespread pollution is easily apparent. Each year, scientists announce species that are gone forever. For an idea of just how grim Earth’s modern day human-caused extinction crisis already is, the report provided some historical perspective:
At least 680 vertebrate species have been driven to extinction by human actions since the 16th century.
That’s well over 100 spined creatures per century. While vertebrates are not more important than the insects that comprise the base of the food chain and the vast swathes of Earth’s dying coral reefs, there are scores of creatures — some vividly colored, some large, some furry, some charismatic — that we won’t ever see again.
Here are 10, of hundreds.
1. Schomburgk’s deer
The Schomburgk’s Deer, Rucervus schomburgki, once inhabited the plains of central Thailand. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists this deer as extinct. The last known individual was killed in 1938.
2. Pinta giant tortoise
The last Pinta Island Galápagos tortoise, Lonesome George, died on June 24, 2012. The species, now listed as extinct, was exterminated by overhunting.
3. Falklands wolf
The Falkland wolf, discovered in 1690, died out in the 1870s when the last-known individual was killed. This canid is listed as extinct.
This mostly flightless New Zealand bird, Xenicus longipes, hasn’t been seen since 1972. The bird was likely consumed by introduced predators. It is listed as extinct.
5. Saudi gazelle
The Saudi gazelle, who once roamed the Arabian Peninsula, hasn’t been seen in decades. The ungulate is listed as extinct.
6. Golden toad
The golden toad, Incilius periglenes, once hopped about its native Costa Rica. The conspicuous toad has not been documented for 30 years. It is listed as extinct.
7. Oahu Akialoa
Depleted forests and introduced disease wiped out this Hawaiian honeycreeper, last seen in 1837. The Oahu Akialoa is listed as extinct.
8. The Great Auk
Hunting eliminated the “northern penguin” in the mid-1800s. The species once inhabited a wide sprawl of the North Atlantic. It is listed as extinct.
9. Bulldog rat
Not seen for well over a century, this profoundly fat Christmas Island mammal is listed as extinct.
10. The dodo
Gone for over three centuries, the dodo (Raphus cucullatus) once lived on the island of Mauritius. The species was hunted by settlers and predated by invasive pigs until no more of the large-billed, flightless birds remained. The dodo is listed as extinct.
To slow the historically unprecedented decline in species, the IPBES scientists conclude that “transformative change” is required to provide habitat for and responsible management of the species left. The report found that if nothing changes, a whopping 1 million of the planet’s 8 million species will likely become threatened within extinction, “many within decades.”
“More species are threatened with extinction than any time in human history,” wrote environmental scientist Thomas E. Lovejoy, about the landmark biodiversity report.
from Mashable! http://bit.ly/2V9iwGG