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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.
  • Alligator Snapping Turtles, the Dinosaurs of the Turtle World, Are Actually 3 at-Risk Species

    alligator snapping turtle

    Alligator snapping turtles look pretty intimidating. These massive, prehistoric-looking reptiles can reach more than 66 centimeters in length and weigh more than 100 kilograms. Add in their unusual ridged carapaces, finger-long claws and sharp, beaklike mouths and you’ve got an impressive package. But in truth, alligator snapping turtles aren’t all that aggressive. They tend to [...]

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    Bat-Killing Fungus Now Found in 25 U.S. States

    WNS little brown bat

    The news for bats in the U.S. keeps getting worse. Last week conservation officials announced that the bat-killing white-nose syndrome (WNS) has been found in Michigan and Wisconsin. The disease, spread by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), has now reached 25 states and five Canadian provinces since it first turned up in New York State [...]

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    Weekend Species Snapshot: Spix’s Macaw

    spix's macaw

    You or your kids may have seen the fabulous blue macaw in the movie “Rio” or the just-released “Rio 2.” Unfortunately, more people have seen these movies than will ever see the birds in real life. Species name: Spix’s or little blue macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii) Where found: Originally native to northeastern Brazil, the only known [...]

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    Killifishes Killed Off: 2 Fish Species May Be Extinct in the Wild


    Is it time to add two more species to the list of recent extinctions? New research indicates that two critically endangered fish species may now be extinct in the wild following the destruction of their only habitats. The species in question were both killifishes, an order of thumb-size fishes that live in small bodies of [...]

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    First-Ever Video of Critically Endangered Myanmar Snub-Nosed Monkeys

    myanmar snub-nosed monkey

    Here’s something you don’t see every day: video footage of the critically endangered Myanmar snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri), a species that was only discovered in 2010. You can count at least 23 of the rare monkeys, out of a total population estimated to range from 260 to 330 individuals for the entire species, in the [...]

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    Sunday Species Snapshot: Puerto Rican Parrot

    Puerto Rican Parrot

    The only native parrot species still living in the U.S., these birds nearly went extinct in the second half of the twentieth century. By 1975, only 13 parrots remained. Intense conservation efforts over the past few decades have helped to turn that around, but the species still has a long way to go. Species name: [...]

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    Unusual Night Lizard Returns after Eradication of Invasive Species

    Island Night Lizard

    A rare reptile found only on a few islands off the California coast has become the latest species to recover and leave the protection of the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported this week. The island night lizard (Xantusia riversiana) originally faced threats from nonnative species such as goats, pigs and [...]

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    Microjewels: Stunningly Beautiful Snails Going Extinct as Soon as They Are Discovered


    You need to have pretty good eyesight to see the tiny snails from the genus Plectostoma. These almost impossibly small gastropods from Malaysia and Thailand only reach a millimeter or two in width, but they make up for their lack of size with their stunning beauty. The 31 Plectostoma species described in a new paper [...]

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    $10-Million Action Plan Aims to Save World’s Most Endangered Gorilla

    cross river gorilla

    Great apes, and species in general, don’t get much rarer than the critically endangered Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli). Fewer than 300 of these rarely seen gorillas remain, scattered across 12,000 square kilometers of habitat along the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Although legally protected in both countries, very little of the territory in [...]

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    Sunday Species Snapshot: Goodfellow’s Tree-Kangaroo

    Goodfellow's tree-kangaroo

    Yes, there are kangaroos that live in trees. Like the famous hoppers of Australia, tree-kangaroos are marsupials. Unlike ground kangaroos, tree-kangaroos are adapted for arboreal life, making them particularly vulnerable to deforestation. Species name: Goodfellow’s tree-kangaroo, a.k.a. the ornate tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi). Where found: The rainforests of Papua New Guinea, mostly in mountain regions. IUCN [...]

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