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Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown

News and research about endangered species from around the world
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  • Profile

    John R. Platt Twice a week, John Platt shines a light on endangered species from all over the globe, exploring not just why they are dying out but also what's being done to rescue them from oblivion. Follow on Twitter @johnrplatt.
  • This Rare White Possum Could Soon Be a Ghostly Memory

    white lemuroid ringtail possum

    A ghost lives in the Daintree Rainforest in northeastern Queensland, Australia. There, on a single mountain range located 1,100 meters above sea level, scientists have recently found what may be the last few white lemuroid ringtail possums (Hemibelideus lemuroides), a species that was all but wiped out by a heat wave in 2005. They may [...]

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    In Limbo Since 1991, the Oregon Spotted Frog Finally Gets Protected Status

    Oregon spotted frog sq

    It only took 23 years but the Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) has finally gained protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The small, aquatic frogs—which only reach about 100 millimeters in length—have been considered candidates for protected status since 1991. The species has probably already disappeared from its former range in California and in [...]

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    100 Years Ago Today

    passenger pigeon

    Today marks a sad centennial: the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius), a species once so abundant that their flocks blacked out the skies of North America. Today the only passenger pigeons that remain are a handful of preserved specimens gathering dust in museum drawers and exhibits. These stuffed and [...]

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    10 Years of Extinction Countdown: A Lot of Good in the Face of Mass Losses

    mountain gorilla

    Ten years. Nearly 1,200 articles. I have no idea how many species. I have no idea how many tears. *** When I started what was then called “Extinction Blog” on August 19, 2004, I didn’t know what it would become, let alone who I would be a decade later. To be honest, I didn’t set [...]

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    Vaquita Porpoise about to Go Extinct, Only 97 Remain


    Millions of dollars and two decades of conservation efforts have failed to protect the Gulf of California’s critically endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus). Two years ago this species’s population was estimated at 200. Today it has plummeted to just 97. Fewer than 25 of those that remain are thought to be females capable of reproducing [...]

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    Nearly Extinct Mussel Gets One Last Chance at Survival

    purple cat's paw mussels

    Freshwater mussels have a particularly unusual system of reproduction. Males release their sperm into the water with the hope that a nearby female will siphon them up to fertilize her eggs. Once fertilization occurs, the female produces larvae called glochidia, which she then releases back into the water. At this point the mother is out [...]

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    All 8 Pangolin Species Being Eaten into Extinction

    ground pangolin

    A few days ago customs officials in Vietnam raided a cargo ship from Sierra Leone and seized an astonishing 1.4 tons of dried pangolin scales. The grisly discovery came from the bodies of as many as 10,000 dead pangolins, the scaly anteaters of Africa and Asia that are being hunted into extinction for their meat [...]

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    Somali Ostrich and 360 Other Newly Discovered Birds Added to List of Threatened Species

    somali ostrich

    Did you know there are two species of ostrich? Don’t worry if this is news to you—scientists didn’t know that for sure either until this year, when the Somali ostrich (Struthio molybdophanes) of Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Kenya was declared a separate species from the common ostrich (S. camelus). Previously considered a subspecies, the Somali [...]

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    Wild Births are Big Steps for Rare California Condors and Mexican Wolves

    california condor

    Two species that couldn’t be more different have had similarly good news this week. First we go to Utah’s Zion National Park, where a pair of California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) successfully hatched a chick in a nest more than 300 meters off the ground. This is the first wild condor birth in Utah since the [...]

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    Baby Mountain Gorillas Celebrated by 40,000 People in Rwanda

    mountain gorilla baby

    Well I just found something to add to my bucket list. Earlier this month 40,000 people gathered in Rwanda for the 10th Kwita Izina, the annual ceremony that celebrates and names all of the known mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) born during the previous year in the Virunga National Park Transboundary Collaboration, which stretches across [...]

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