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Study finds Earth is on verge of ‘the 6th extinction’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Species of plants and animals are

becoming extinct at least 1,000 times faster than they did

before humans arrived on the scene, and the world is on the

brink of a sixth great extinction, a new study says.

The study looks at past and present rates of extinction and

finds a lower rate in the past than scientists had thought.

Species are now disappearing from Earth about 10 times

faster than biologists had believed, said study lead author

noted biologist Stuart Pimm of Duke University.

“We are on the verge of the sixth extinction,” Pimm said

from research at the Dry Tortugas. “Whether we avoid it or

not will depend on our actions.”

The work, published Thursday by the journal Science, was

hailed as a landmark study by outside experts.

Pimm’s study focused on the rate, not the number, of

species disappearing from Earth. It calculated a “death rate”

of how many species become extinct each year out of 1

million species.

In 1995, Pimm found that the pre-human rate of extinctions

on Earth was about 1. But taking into account new research,

Pimm and his colleagues refined that background rate to

about 0.1.

Now, that death rate is about 100 to 1,000, Pimm said.

Numerous factors are combining to make species disappear

much faster than before, said Pimm and co-author Clinton

Jenkins of the Institute of Ecological Research in Brazil. But

the No. 1 issue is habitat loss. Species are finding no place to

live as more places are built up and altered by humans.

Add to that invasive species crowding out native species,

climate change affecting where species can survive, and

overfishing, Pimm said.

The buffy-tufted-ear marmoset is a good example, Jenkins

said. Its habitat has shrunk because of development in

Brazil, and a competing marmoset has taken over where it

lives. Now ,it’s on the international vulnerable list.

The oceanic white-tip shark used to be one of the most

abundant predators on Earth and they have been hunted so

much they are now rarely seen, said Dalhousie University

marine biologist Boris Worm, who wasn’t part of the study

but praised it. “If we don’t do anything, this will go the way

of the dinosaurs.”

Five times, a vast majority of the world’s life has been

snuffed out in what have been called mass extinctions, often

associated with giant meteor strikes. About 66 million years

ago, one such extinction killed off the dinosaurs and three

out of four species on Earth. Around 252 million years ago,

the Great Dying snuffed out about 90 percent of the world’s


Pimm and Jenkins said there is hope. Both said the use of

smartphones and applications such as iNaturalist will help

ordinary people and biologists find species in trouble, they

said. Once biologists know where endangered species are

they can try to save habitats and use captive breeding and

other techniques to save the species, they said.

One success story is the golden lion tamarin. Decades ago

the tiny primates were thought to be extinct because of

habitat loss, but they were then found in remote parts of

Brazil, bred in captivity and biologists helped set aside new

forests for them to live in, Jenkins said.

“Now there are more tamarins than there are places to put

them,” he said.

At the birth of Jesus, Angels gave glory to the ONE True God of Israel and said good will to all
At the birth of Jesus, Angels gave glory to the ONE True God of Israel and said good will to all

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