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Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown

News and research about endangered species from around the world

The Sciences

Mystery virus threatens an already critically endangered Australian parrot species

The orange-bellied parrot ( Neophema chrysogaster ), one of the world's most critically endangered birds, could lose its bid at survival as a virus threatens its vitally important captive breeding program.The unidentified stomach virus that has struck the program causes the birds to lose their feathers and weakens their immune systems, Shane Radial, a veterinary professor with Charles Sturt University, told the Australian Broadcasting Co...

November 11, 2010 — John Platt
Evolution

Extinction crisis revealed: One fifth of the world's mammals, birds and amphibians are threatened

One fifth of the world's vertebrates are threatened with extinction. That's the word from the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity this week in Nagoya, Japan, where a team of 174 scientists presented an assessment of the world's at-risk vertebrate species.According to the study, published in the October 28 issue of Science, the number of threatened species has grown dramatically in the past four decades, exceeding the normal "background rate" of extinction by a factor of two or three...

October 27, 2010 — John Platt
The Sciences

Asian coral die-off could be worst ever; Is climate change to blame?

A massive coral bleaching event in Southeast Asian reefs in the Indian and Pacific oceans is the worst coral die-off since 1998, and possibly the worst science has ever observed, says Andrew Baird of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.Bleaching occurs when environmental factors stress the living organisms residing within coral reefs, causing them to either leave their reef structures or die...

October 22, 2010 — John Platt
Sustainability

New record size for a genome goes to rare plant

A rare plant called Paris japonica has a genome 50 times longer than that of humans, making it the longest genome ever recorded. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, announced the discovery last week, and details appear in the September 2010 issue of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society .The Paris japonica genome weighs in at 152.23 picograms (trillionths of a gram), 15 percent larger than the previously biggest known genome, that of related herb, a hybrid trillium known as Trillium × hagae ...

October 11, 2010 — John Platt

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