The sixth mass extinction is here, and it's speeding up.
Terrestrial vertebrates on the brink (i.e., with 1,000 or fewer individuals) include species such as (A) Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis; image credit: Rhett A. Butler [photographer]), (B) Clarion island wren (Troglodytes tanneri; image credit: Claudio Contreras Koob [photographer]), (C) Española Giant Tortoise (Chelonoidis hoodensis; image credit: G.C.), and (D) Harlequin frog (Atelopus varius; the population size of the species is unknown but it is estimated at less than 1,000; image credit: G.C.).
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By Lamfu Fabrice Yengong and Sylvie Djacbou Deugoue
Biodiversity loss is a global crisis. In May last year, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) warned that over 1,000,000 species are threatened with extinction worldwide. On May 22, the International Day of Biodiversity, it is important to recall the silent victims of our country's obsession for industrial growth at the expense of our forests.
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By Malavika Vyawahare
Giant tortoises and flying foxes once roamed La Réunion, a volcanic island off the eastern coast of Africa. Then humans arrived and decided to stay. Within 150 years of their appearance, large fruit-eating animals like the giant tortoises (Cylindraspis indica) and flying foxes (Pteropus niger), a type of bat, were wiped off the face of La Réunion.
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The United Nations wants to stop the sixth mass extinction.
By Jessie Wingard
Scientists are hoping to impregnate the closely-related southern white rhino — the most abundant rhino sub-species in the world — using harvested eggs from the last two northern white rhino cows and frozen sperm collected from four rhino bulls before their deaths, an international science consortium said on Wednesday.
Turning Point in Assisted Reproduction<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEwMjIwNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzk4MzE1OH0.cZFBxyHWlM41-xBG29vcya2-SrijiiTBmqoiD8TtXHU/img.jpg?width=980" id="55b0c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f97abddd55647a65dbee0ab218b9a162" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Two northern white rhino in-vitro embryos were successfully created at Avantea Laboratories in Cremona, Italy.<br></p><p>"These are early embryos that have a very high potential to develop into a baby. [They] have now been put in liquid nitrogen. We have achieved a new life, a new hope for this species," Thomas Hildebrandt, project head at the Leibnitz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, a consortium partner in the project, told DW.</p><p>Researchers from Kenya, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Germany are still fine-tuning the implantation procedure before the embryos are transferred into a surrogate mother, but are hopeful a northern white rhino calf can be born via surrogacy within the next three years.</p>
Mother's Bond<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTEwMjIxMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMTc0NTIxMn0.IbxmY18zxG1S2Ylqdu-Pcem16cgWPSxK25c_SL_cFFo/img.jpg?width=980" id="307e3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6262cbf66a1bd68ffa0cbee91578d119" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>The remaining two cows, mother Najin and daughter Fatu, live in a Kenyan sanctuary. The last bull, Fatu's father, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/swipe-right-to-save-the-rhino/a-38966632" target="_blank">Sudan</a>, died in March, 2018.</p><p>Genetic reasons mean neither cow can breed.</p><p>While Najin and Fatu might not be able to carry the baby, the offspring would still be reliant on them "to pass on their knowledge of how a northern white rhino behaves with their offspring," Hildebrandt added.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from our media associate <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/researchers-create-northern-white-rhino-embryos-to-save-species/a-50380291" target="_blank">DW</a>.</em></p>
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Some two billion years ago, a significant decline of once-abundant oxygen killed as much as 99 percent of all life on Earth in a mass extinction event larger than the one responsible for the dinosaur die-off.
Barite crystals in the Costello Formation in Canada. Malcolm Hodgskiss<p>Scientists turned to <a href="https://geology.com/minerals/barite.shtml" target="_blank">barite</a>, a sulfate mineral found in the Belcher Islands in Canada's Hudson Bay that shows the geological record of oxygen in the atmosphere. An analysis of isotope geochemistry found negative values that occurred shortly after the GEO, implying a collapse in primary productivity that triggered a shift in the availability of nutrients like phosphorus. Altogether, this caused an enormous drop in life perhaps due to a decrease in oxygen levels.</p><p>"The fact that this geochemical signature was preserved was very surprising," <a href="https://earth.stanford.edu/news/ancient-die-greater-dinosaur-extinction#gs.0rfimc" target="_blank">said</a> study co-author Malcolm Hodgskiss. "What was especially unusual about these barites is that they clearly had a complex history."</p><p>The increase of life in correlation with atmospheric oxygen confirms a theory known as "oxygen overshoot" whereby photosynthesis from ancient microorganisms and the natural weathering processes of rocks resulted in an increase of oxygen in the atmosphere. Oxygen-emitting organisms eventually exhausted their nutrient supply in the ocean, resulting in declining populations in a world much different than how we know it today, where a stable atmosphere balances oxygen production with consumption. </p><p>The findings shed light into ancient processes that eventually resulted in Earth as we know it today. By further studying how Earth behaves throughout time, scientists say they can better understand how atmospheres operate on planets outside of our solar system, specifically the interlink between the biosphere (where organisms live) and how that relates to levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. </p><p>"Some of these oxygen estimates likely require too many microorganisms living in the ocean in Earth's past," said Crockford. "So, we can now start to narrow in on what the composition of the atmosphere could have been through this biological angle."</p>
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By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
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With the consequences of human activities pushing Earth into a sixth mass extinction, a team of biologists have calculated that plant and animal species are being wiped out so quickly that evolution cannot keep up.
Human activities—including pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, poaching, warming oceans and extreme weather events tied to climate change—are predicted to drive so many mammals to extinction in the next five decades that nature will need somewhere between 3 to 7 million years to restore biodiversity levels to where it was before modern humans evolved, according to an alarming new analysis published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The largest bird that ever stalked Earth's surface is officially the "Vorombe titan," a previously unidentified species of elephant bird that once roamed the island of Madagascar.
Literally meaning "big bird" in Malagasy and Greek, the giant creature could weigh more than 1,700 pounds and stood nearly 10 feet tall, a new study published Wednesday in Royal Society Open Science has revealed.
The 45-year-old rhinoceros, named Sudan, was euthanized Monday at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
By Tim Radford
Think of it as the day a comet set the earth on fire. Researchers have evidence of widespread and devastating forest fires around half the world—a blaze to blot out the light of the sun—and all of it at a geological boundary called the Younger Dryas, 13,500 years ago.
The evidence, they say, supports the hypothesis that planet Earth sailed through a cloud of shattered cometary dust and stones, and the atmospheric violence that followed was enough to set light to accumulated forest timber, peat and grasses across the Americas, Europe and western Asia.