Welcome to The Sixth Extinction! A website about the current extinction or biodiversity crisis. Extinction is a natural feature of evolution because for some species to succeed, others must fail. Since life began, about 99 percent of the earth's species have disappeared and, on at least five occasions, huge numbers have died out in a relatively short time. The most recent of these mass extinctions, about 65 million years ago, swept away the dinosaurs and many other forms of life. However, despite such catastrophes, the total number of living species has, until recently, followed a generally upward trend.
Today, the extinction rate is increasing rapidly as a result of human interference in natural ecosystems. Primates, tropical birds, and many amphibians are particularly threatened. For the foreseeable future, this decline is set to continue because evolution generates new species far more slowly than the current rate of extinction. A new and current mass extinction commonly referred as The Sixth Extincion.
Photo: This iconic image of a bagged Tasmanian Tiger or Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) featuring Mr. Weaver in a studio portrait is repeatedly published yet it is not attributed. It may have been taken by Victor Albert Prout who sojourned briefly in Tasmania in the late 1860s but is known and praised for his excellent panoramas of Sydney Harbour by contemporary photohistorians. This image is of Australian origin and is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired. According to the Australian Copyright Council(ACC), ACC Information Sheet G23 (Duration of copyright) (Feb 2008). This applies also to the European Union, the United States, Australia and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.
Work in progress: updating this website
At this moment we are busy with updating the whole website. This year the new IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (version 2012.2) has been published online and several species and subspecies have been rediscovered or sadly enough became extinct. Additionally we will add some regional extinction lists (e.g. Extinctions in the European Union, Extinctions in the United States, etc.), new articles (e.g. Causes of extinction, Saved Species, The demise of the partulid snails, etc.) and updated and new species information pages! The whole updating proces will take quite some time; bit by bit we will change, update and improve The Sixth Extinction website.
From Billions to None
The Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) filled the skies of North America for days at a time. Then they were gone. What happened? We happened.
Almost 100 years ago, we drove the most abundant bird species in North America extinct. They were sleek and beautiful, and were also a cheap source of protein and fun to shoot at. They were called passenger pigeons - not to be confused with carrier pigeons or the homing pigeons of today.
“Why,” you might ask, “should I care about pigeons, especially ones that are extinct?”
Because these birds are proof that super abundance is not enough to protect a species from extinction. All species are vulnerable. As late as the 1860s, huge flocks in migration still darkened North American skies. But by 1900, none could be found in the wild. And on September 1, 1914, Martha, (named after Martha Washington) the last surviving captive passenger pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo.
From Billions to None : The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction will be an important component of Project Passenger Pigeon, an international effort commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the passing of Martha and her species in 2014. It will be a key element of an ambitious multi-media project that uses the passenger pigeon story to explore today's issues of habitat survival and species extinction. Over 150 North American museums and other institutions will be participating. This film will use lessons of the past to offer solutions to the sustainability challenges of our future.
2014 is coming and time is running out! Help make it happen! Be a partner in this film's production! Check out their Indiegogo crowd funding campaign at: igg.me/at/billions-to-none.
New book: El Bucardo de los Pirineos
A new and very interesting Spanish book has been published by Kees Woutersen: El Bucardo de los Pirineos. The book is about the Pyrenean ibex, the last Pyrenean mountain goat that died in 2000 in the valley of Ordesa located in the Pyrenees. It was the first extinction of the 21st century worldwide. Until now we knew few details of its history and it is difficult to understand why man could not save this amazing animal, who had enjoyed a century of legal protection. It was not easy to find answers. Old books and films, reports, photos, zoological collections and interviews with people who have been with the bucardo bring the pieces of a complicated puzzle. The question remains what to do with the legacy and memory of this animal. The author invites readers to accompany him on his quest and look at the bucardo through the eyes of people who have been in contact with this animal. Proposes to remember as it was: a beautiful animal, interesting, part of a system that is constantly changing and that it died because we let it die. See also: bucardo.es.
Don't forget the plants
Not only animals became extinct in recent times and are disappearing even today! The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Version 2012.2) has listed 90 plant species and 10 subspecies that became extinct after 1500 CE. Although it does not really belong to the kingdom of plants this website will show you the Bennett’s Seaweed (Vanvoorstia bennettiana), a species of red algae.
Photo: The last remaining Saint Helena Olive (Nesiota elliptica) showed signs of ill health and in 2003 deteriorated extremely quickly following a dry winter resulting into the extinction of this species. © Rebecca Cairns-Wicks. All right reserved.
Stop extinction! How can you help?
Why should we care? The are numerous reasons: Living organisms keep the planet habitable; Goods and services provided by natural ecosystems have a huge monetary value; Many species are of immense value to humans as sources of food, medicines, fuel and building materials; Wild animals and plants form a critical contribution to food sources and livelihoods in many areas particularly in countries with high levels of poverty and food insecurit; The diversity of nature helps meet the recreational, emotional, cultural, spiritual and aesthetic needs of people; And just because other species have the right to exist on this planet beside us humans. How can you help preventing more extinctions? You can make a difference...read more.