Sep 17, 2009 | 2
The latest regional update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species finds bad news for mammals living around the Mediterranean. One in six species in the area are now threatened with extinction, according to the IUCN report, "The Status and Distribution of Mediterranean Mammals,"—the first major assessment of mammals in this region. More than 250 experts contributed to the study.
Of the 320 mammals assessed in the report, the IUCN now classifies in its Red List categories 3 percent as Critically Endangered, 5 percent as Endangered and 8 percent as Vulnerable to extinction. Of the 49 threatened species, 20 (41 percent) are unique to the region.
In addition, the IUCN found that 8 percent of Mediterranean mammals are Near Threatened, and 3 percent are Extinct or regionally Extinct.
Sep 13, 2009 | 1
The common true katydid is one of the more stylish orthopterans, the group of insects that includes grasshoppers, crickets and locusts, appreciated in part for its chatty evening call from which its common name is taken.
You've probably heard it shushing, "katydid, katydid, katydid," without realizing it, anywhere east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes, and in some parts just west of the Mississippi.
A small group of walkers on a naturalist-led tour heard them regularly at the Marshlands Conservancy in Westchester County, N.Y., last Saturday, September 5. No press releases were issued.
However, none of the green, winged bugs had been documented in New York City for the past 100 years, according to organizers of Cricket Crawl NYC, an amateur-science event held Saturday night to enlist area residents a la crowd-sourcing to collectively document the distribution of seven orthopteran species throughout the metropolitan area.
May 28, 2009 | 3
Paleontologists have found more solid evidence that volcanoes likely set off the Guadalupian mass extinction in the Middle Permian about 260 million years ago.
Previous studies have pointed to volcanoes as likely instigators of large-scale extinctions, such as the Siberian Traps that might have kicked off the subsequent Permian-Triassic extinction (in which as many as 70 percent of Earth's species disappeared). But, note the authors of the new study, published online today in Science, the link between volcanism and extinctions has been difficult to confirm.
A site in the Emeishan province in southwest China has turned up a telling layer of volcanic rock between sedimentary layers of old shallow seabed, reports the paper. An analysis of fossils in the sedimentary rock directly above (i.e. after) the volcanic layer shows a sharp change in the number and types of marine life, namely algae and foraminifers.
Dec 4, 2008 | 8
White lemuroid possums—otherwise known as Hemibelideus lemuroides—may have become the first mammal to disappear because of climate change, according to an Australian researcher. The cute marsupials restricted to certain mountaintops in the prehistoric "Lost World" of far northern tropical Queensland, Australia, may have fallen victim to an average temperature rise of at least 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.5 degrees Celsius) over the last several decades.
Nocturnal, fruit-eating creatures that live in old-growth trees, this rare white form of the marsupial was found in two mountain peak cloud forests—until 2005. Prior to that, such possums were often spotted during nighttime expeditions. But they have not been seen since a heat wave that year, biologist Steve Williams of the Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change at James Cook University told Brisbane's Courier-Mail newspaper.
Nov 19, 2008 | 15
The tiny Furby-like pygmy tarsier, presumed to be extinct, was found during a recent expedition to Indonesia. And the cuddly, huge-eyed nocturnal critter is the very definition of cute.
"They always look like they have a perpetual smile on their face, which adds to the attraction," says physical anthropologist Sharon Gursky-Doyen, who found the presumed lost species.
Gursky-Doyen of Texas A&M University traveled into the mountains of Sulawesi Island in Indonesia to confirm that the pygmy tarsier was unequivocally extinct, but ended up becoming the first person in more than 80 years to spot a live one.
Nov 6, 2008
The axolotl—a foot-long amphibian reputed by the Aztecs to be a transformed god (but eaten anyway)—is in danger of disappearing for good, like so many of its fellow amphibians. A recent survey by Mexican scientists showed that the population of the amphibians—which look like a cross between a fish with a mane and a salamander, with a miniature alligator's tail for swimming and has a remarkable talent for regenerating lost body parts—in Mexico City's waterways and canals has dropped from 1,500 to just 25 per square mile over the past decade.
A combination of polluted water and an aggressive invasion by African tilapia and Asian carp fish has pushed it to the brink. Without sanctuaries—and an aggressive effort to eliminate the invaders—the namesake of the Aztec god of death may soon follow the dog-headed deity into oblivion.
Oct 23, 2008 | 3
There's a little bit of know-it-all Cheers postman Cliff Claven in all of us. So we were intrigued to learn of a little-known fact: Half of the planet's 7,000 languages are headed for extinction over the next century.
That phenomenon, the result of aging populations in regions made remote by terrain or migration, will be put on display on a small scale today, when speakers of 100 or more languages race to translate a speech by linguist K. David Harrison within 72 hours. He'll describe the endangered language problem at PopTech, a three-day conference of leaders in science, business, technology and the arts in Camden, Maine.
Aug 5, 2008 | 2
Nearly half of the monkeys, apes and lemurs in the world are in imminent danger of disappearing from the planet, according to a new survey. The news comes even as a separate new census has uncovered far more gorillas than expected.
The International Union for Conservation conducted its first survey of the 634 known primates in five years and found that 48 percent face extinction. Particularly at risk are the great apes like orangutans.
"The situation is far more severe than we imagined," said Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International and chairman of the IUCN's primate group, at the release of the analysis in Edinburgh. Although tropical forest destruction remains the main cause, "in many places, primates are quite literally being eaten to extinction."
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