A new study has warned that Earth is on track for the sixth mass extinction as animal species are disappearing 100 times higher than in the past, humans are responsible. The research was published in the journal Scientific Advances on Friday.
According to the study, about 338 species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and fish have become extinct since the year 1500. The extinct species include the dodo (Raphus cucullatus), the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes Migratorius) and the Caribbean Monk Seal (Neomonachus tropicalis). In the past, five mass extinctions on Earth were caused by a massive natural disaster like chains of volcanic eruptions or meteors, wiping out 96 percent of the species.
“We are on the trajectory of seeing a mass extinction in two human lifetimes if we just keep doing business as usual,” said Anthony Barnosky, a paleontologist at UC Berkeley’s integrative biology department and co-author of the study.
Researchers say that the modern mass extinction is not caused by nature, but by man-made activities in the environment like deforestation, poaching, over-fishing and global warming that is proving to be deadly. According to Barnosky, three out of the four species on Earth disappear in a short period of geologic time, which could be as long as a couple of million years.
Researchers believe that hundreds of species, including Emperor Rat, the Desert Rat Kangaroo, the Yangtze River Dolphin, the Skunk Frog and the Chinese Paddlefish have become extinct. Senior ecological researcher Gerardo Ceballos at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and Barnosky have said that about 477 vertebrate species have been lost since 1990. If humans were not the cause of these extinctions, only nine species should’ve gone extinct during the period.
Ceballos stated that unless we do something radically different soon, we may end up having a big catastrophic collapse of humans, not only animals. However, Barnosky added that there is still a lot we can do to reverse this, but if “we do nothing, we’re screwed.”[ Source ]