Tag Archives | Extinction

Sixty Percent of Large Herbivores Face Threat Of Extinction

Sixty Percent. More than half… The bad news from the BBC:

Populations of some of the world’s largest wild animals are dwindling, raising the threat of an “empty landscape”, say scientists.

Black rhino

Black Rhinoceros by Matthew Field (CC)

About 60% of giant herbivores – plant-eaters – including rhinos, elephants and gorillas, are at risk of extinction, according to research.

Analysis of 74 herbivore species, published in Science Advances, blamed poaching and habitat loss.

A previous study of large carnivores showed similar declines.

Prof William Ripple, of Oregon State University, led the research looking at herbivores weighing over 100kg, from the reindeer up to the African elephant.

“This is the first time anyone has analysed all of these species as a whole,” he said.

“The process of declining animals is causing an empty landscape in the forest, savannah, grasslands and desert.”

Prof David Macdonald, of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, was among the team of 15 international scientists.

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The Future Rise of Extinction Tourism

See ’em before they’re all gone folks! Factor previews the inevitable rise of extinction tourism:

The world around us is changing at a rate we’ve never previously experienced, with climate change and human activity reshaping whole regions. Extinction rates are on the increase, with many subjects of loved children’s books set to vanish from the wild within a generation.

Photo by gentleman75 (CC)

Photo by gentleman75 (CC)

 

As sad a prospect as this is, it is also something that travel companies are seeking to capitalise on. Since 2008 companies have been offering packages for experiences that may not be around for much longer.

“Some companies are using climate change as a marketing pitch, a ‘see it now before it’s gone’ kind of thing,” said Ayako Ezaki, communications director for the International Ecotourism Society, in an interview with IPS news when the organisation first reported on the phenomenon.

In the future, the ‘it’ places identified by travel trend hunters such as Lonely Planet’s yearly Bluelist are likely to shift, with many backpackers wanting to catch a glimpse of a loved animal in the wild before it is gone forever.

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The Sixth Extinction Is Here — And It’s Our Fault

Layla1.jpg

If it’s sounds serious, it is. The Sixth Extinction is a very real and massive loss of biodiversity on Earth, happening right now, reports James Temple at re/code:

The Earth appears to be in the early stages of the Sixth Extinction, the latest in a series of mass biodiversity losses that have punctuated the history of life on the planet, according to a paper published in Science this week.

The defining characteristic of the current round — the latest since the dinosaurs disappeared about 65 million years ago — seems to be driven mostly by the actions of humankind. We’re steadily encroaching on the habitat of millions of species while fundamentally altering the environment.

More than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct since 1500, according to the researchers at Stanford University. Surviving species have declined in abundance by about 25 percent, particularly devastating the ranks of large animals like elephants, rhinoceroses and polar bears.

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CNN Runs False iReport That Incoming Asteroid May End Life On Planet

cnn.asteroidWhoops. This hoax will likely be an extinction-level event for whatever editor was asleep at the wheel over the long weekend.

The message is clear enough. It’s not a nice thing to contemplate the first day back at work after a three-day holiday weekend, but the good news is that it looks like the only impact story here is the fact that the cable news network has slammed the Earth with an enormous bolide of B.S.

The post is from iReports, which is apparently an experiment in citizen journalism. CNN lets random people with no qualifications post stories under the CNN banner. The asteroid scare illustrates the hazard of this approach.

Apparently ireporters don’t need to reveal their names. The asteroid report’s author has called himself, or herself, Marcus575. The story says the giant asteroid was spotted by a project called the Near-Earth Object Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), which really exists.

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Dark Matter ‘Disc’ May Have Killed the Dinosaurs

PIC: Nina Zeretsky/National Science Foundation (PD)

PIC: Nina Zeretsky/National Science Foundation (PD)

As if blazing comets pounding into the earth and wiping out giant lizard monsters isn’t metal enough, now some scientists are speculating that “dark matter” may have played a role in the great dinosaur die-off. The scientists theorize that as our solar system circles around the center of our galaxy it might pass through a dark matter “disc” every 35 million years. The disc might send comets flying our way. Me? I think I’ll call it the Loc-Nar theory of mass extinction.

Via New Scientist:

Its name has always made it sound ominous – and now dark matter could have a menacing role in Earth’s history. A recent explanation for the identity of the mysterious stuff leads to a scenario in which it could be to blame for the extinctions of dinosaurs, or at least send a few extra comets shooting our way.

Although the sequence of events connecting dark matter to dinosaurs, or even comets, is still pretty tenuous, it is intriguing because it brings together two big open questions: the identity of dark matter and whether there is a pattern to comet strikes on Earth.

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Scientists Discover Gene Needed for ‘Memory Extinction’

sunshine mouseLike everyone, I’ve got my share of bad memories, but would erasing them change me for the worse?

Via Medical News Today:

Many of us are the bearers of “bad” memories that, to this day, continue to affect our lives. Now, scientists say they have discovered a gene essential for “memory extinction,” the process by which our brain replaces older memories with new experiences.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) say the discovery could help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by replacing “fearful” memories with more positive associations.

The gene, Tet1, has been found to play a critical role in memory extinction by controlling a small group of other genes that are necessary for the process.

For the study, published in the journal Neuron, the research team experimented on mice who had the Tet1 gene “knocked out,” as well as on mice who had normal levels of the gene.

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Western Black Rhinoceros Officially Extinct

Picture: Vassil (PD)

Picture: Vassil (PD)

I shouted out, “Who killed the [Black Rhino]?”
When after all, It was you and me..

Chalk another one up to humanity…

Via CNN:

Africa’s western black rhino is now officially extinct according the latest review of animals and plants by the world’s largest conservation network.

The subspecies of the black rhino — which is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species — was last seen in western Africa in 2006.

The IUCN warns that other rhinos could follow saying Africa’s northern white rhino is “teetering on the brink of extinction” while Asia’s Javan rhino is “making its last stand” due to continued poaching and lack of conservation.

Keep reading.

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Brazil To Clone Animals In Danger Of Extinction

After our planet’s climate drastically changes, the wildlife of today will exist in cloned form in tomorrow’s zoos, Inter Press Service reports:

Brazilian scientists are attempting to clone animals in danger of extinction, like the jaguar and maned wolf, although the potential impact on the conservation of these threatened species is still not clear.

The cloning initiative is being undertaken by the Brasilia Zoological Garden in partnership with the Brazilian government’s agricultural research agency, EMBRAPA, and is now in its second phase. “We already have 420 germplasm samples stored in our bank and are going to continue collecting,” [said] EMBRAPA researcher Carlos Frederico Martins.

Eight animals have been chosen, including the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), the jaguar (Panthera onca) and the black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus). The bank has also been stocked with germplasm from the bush dog (Speothos venaticus), coati (genus Nasua), collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla), gray brocket deer (Mazama gouazoubira) and bison (genus Bison).

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So Perfect, They Had to Die…

You’ve seen their shells in science textbooks, design magazines, and haggard hotel wall art, quite soon those might be the only places you’ll find one of nature’s most mathematically pleasing marvels, the nautilus. Their iconic image, made famous by their shell’s alignment with Fibonnaci’s sequence for determining the Golden Ratio, has also made them a target for humanity’s hunger for novelty. Having survived previous eras of mass extinction, it looks like in our design conscious world the nautilous might be marked for death by its perfection:

Nautilus, Golden Ratio“Nautilus’s ability, using the hydraulic system at the heart of the shell, to sink down to ocean depths of several hundred feet and lay eggs there, made these sea creatures immune to all the chaos that was going on at the surface in earlier extinctions. They could slow down their metabolism and just hibernate through whatever was going on above.

But they can’t cope with the fishermen who lure them into baited nets in the waters of the Philippines, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Fiji and Samoa.… Read the rest

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Land-Sea Ecological Chains of Life Threatened With Extinction Around the World

Manta RayAnd it’s not like we humans aren’t part of such chains. Via ScienceDaily:

Douglas McCauley and Paul DeSalles did not set out to discover one of the longest ecological interaction chains ever documented. But that’s exactly what they and a team of researchers — all current or former Stanford students and faculty — did in a new study published in Scientific Reports.

Their findings shed light on how human disturbance of the natural world may lead to widespread, yet largely invisible, disruptions of ecological interaction chains. This, in turn, highlights the need to build non-traditional alliances — among marine biologists and foresters, for example — to address whole ecosystems across political boundaries.

This past fall, McCauley, a graduate student, and DeSalles, an undergraduate, were in remote Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific tracking manta rays’ movements for a predator-prey interaction study. Swimming with the rays and charting their movements with acoustic tags, McCauley and DeSalles noticed the graceful creatures kept returning to certain islands’ coastlines.

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