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Extinction Countdown

Chinese Sturgeon Give Up, Stop Breeding in Polluted Yangtze River

chinese sturgeon

When an endangered species stops breeding, you know its days are probably numbered. In China the countdown has apparently begun for the critically endangered Chinese sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis). According to a report issued this week by the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences, only about 100 of the massive fish remain in the heavily polluted and [...]

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Extinction Countdown

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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Extinction Countdown

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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Extinction Countdown

After Near-Extinction, Recovery Declared for 2 Island Foxes

island fox

Most efforts to rescue threatened species from the risk of extinction involve decades of hard work. Even our country’s national symbol, the iconic bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), required more than 40 years before it had recovered enough to leave the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Every once in a while, though, things move a [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Giant Tusked Insect Saved from Extinction (Just in the Nick of Time)

Motuweta isolata

The Mercury Islands tusked weta (Motuweta isolata) isn’t exactly a thing of beauty. These massive New Zealand insects can reach more than seven centimeters in length, including the impressive tusks in front of their jaws that they use to push their prey around. But size and bullying strength didn’t necessarily help this weta, one of [...]

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Extinction Countdown

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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Extinction Countdown

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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Extinction Countdown

Kakapo Baby Boom in New Zealand: First New Chicks in 3 Years [Video]

kakapo

Kakapo (Strigops habroptila), the critically endangered flightless parrots of New Zealand, have an unusual mating ritual. In the rare years when the birds breed, the males climb to the tops of hills, breathe in so deeply they swell up like balloons and then let out a series of deep, rhythmic booms that can be heard [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Sunday Species Snapshot: Panamanian Golden Frog

panamanian golden frog

These tiny, brightly colored amphibians pack a potent neurotoxin on their skin. That toxin protected them from predators, but it won’t save them from extinction. They haven’t been seen in the wild in seven years. Species name: Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki). This is actually a misnomer. These “frogs” are actually toads! Where found: The [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Endangered Falcon Lives Fast, Dies Young in Response to Habitat Loss

mauritius kestrel

Few species have undergone as spectacular a recovery as the Mauritius kestrel (Falco punctatus). Forty years ago the birds were nearly extinct, with only four of the small falcons remaining in the wild. But intense conservation efforts over the ensuing decades paid off. By 1994 the population had grown to a few hundred birds, enough [...]

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