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Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown

News and research about endangered species from around the world
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    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.
  • Hungry Polar Bears Could Soon Start Devastating Bird Populations

    polar bear

    A hungry polar bear (Ursus maritimus) will eat just about anything. Oh sure, they prefer to dine on nice fatty seals (I mean, what Arctic creature wouldn’t?), but when push comes to shove they’ll eat caribou, walruses, nuts, birds, and even stinky, rotten whale carcasses. Oh yeah, they’ll also eat eggs. Research over the past [...]

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    With Just 6 Delta Smelt Left, Controversial California Fish Species Faces Impending Extinction

    delta smelt

    Are we about to witness the extinction of the controversial delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus)? The most recent survey for the tiny fish, over which decades of battles over water rights have been fought, counted just four females and two males. The announcement came just days after a NASA scientist warned that drought-stricken California only has [...]

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    If Apes Go Extinct, So Could Entire Forests


    Bonobo poop matters. Well, maybe not the poop itself, but what’s in it. You see, bonobos eat a lot of fruit, and fruit contains seeds. Those seeds travel through a bonobo’s digestive system while the bonobo itself travels through the landscape. A few hours later, the seeds end up being deposited far from where the [...]

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    After 400 Million Years, Coelacanth at Risk of Extinction

    coelacanth sq

    It may have hidden in the ocean for millions of years, but life today poses numerous challenges for the West Indian Ocean coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae), the “living fossil” fish that was famously rediscovered off the coast of South Africa in 1938. The few areas in which the fish still swim face destruction from new port [...]

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    Critically Endangered Plant with Brilliant Purple Flowers Discovered in Hawaii

    Cyanea konahuanuiensis

    Here’s the crazy thing about living in Hawaii: Even though the islands are home to more than 18,000 unique species that live nowhere else on Earth, the people of Hawaii rarely see those native plants and animals. In no small part, that’s because Hawaii is the site of an ongoing extinction crisis. Thousands of species [...]

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    Amur Leopard Population Booms—to 57

    amur leopard

    The world’s rarest big cats have become ever-so-slightly less rare over the past decade. According to a census released this week, there are now at least 57 Amur leopards (Panthera pardus orientalis) in Russia. That may not seem like a lot but the subspecies only had about 30 cats there in 2007, so this number [...]

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    Species Snapshot: Sunda Pangolin [Video]

    sunda pangolin

    Today is World Pangolin Day, an occasion to recognize the rapidly impending extinction of the eight species of scaly anteaters from Africa and Asia. Let’s take this as an opportunity to get a glimpse of one of the most endangered of these wonderful and barely understood creatures. Species name: Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), also known [...]

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    Look Out Lemurs: Climate Change Is Taking Your Land

    hubbards sportive lemur

    As if rampant deforestation and poaching weren’t bad enough, climate change will have a devastating effect on the majority of Madagascar’s lemur species, most of them already imperiled, according to a paper published this week in Ecology and Evolution. The threat will vary by species but the paper—by researchers Jason Brown and Anne Yoder from [...]

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    Critically Endangered Tarantula Links India and Sri Lanka

    Poecilotheria hanumavilasumica

    For thousands of years a thin bridge of sand and rock connected mainland India with the island of Sri Lanka. The 30-kilometer stretch known as Rama’s (or Adam’s) Bridge disappeared centuries ago—probably after a cyclone in the year A.D. 1480—but its legacy remains today. Nowhere is that more evident than on one of the few [...]

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    Gorgeous Blue-Eyed Lemur Faces Extinction in 11 Years

    blue-eyed black lemur

    One of the most recently discovered lemur species of Madagascar could also be one of the first to disappear. The striking blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons), which was only identified as a species in 2008, faces extinction in as little as 11 years due to rapid deforestation in its only habitat, according to research published [...]

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