SciSun: The Dangers of being Endangered   Leave a comment

Friday, May 18, is the 7th annual National Endangered Species Day. Hundreds of species of plants and animals are endangered, throughout the world, everyday, but this is one day set aside to remember many of the different types of life that once lived on Earth are now gone, and others we’re in danger of loosing forever.

For millions of years, species have lived on Earth and over time, become extinct. That’s why we don’t see any dinosaurs or Mammoths around today. Natural changes to the environment, different types of food and shelter, competition from other species, and even accidents (those dinosaurs NEVER saw the meteor coming!) is a continuous cycle over the entire timespan of earth. So while it’s sad that many plants and animals are gone, much of it is just the slow process of change. What’s different now, the process has been pushed faster than ever before because of humans and the concentrated pressures people put on the world. Through clearing natural environments to make space for cities and continued growth; favoring some species while reducing the numbers of others due to fear or food; and altering how species can live through pollution and manufacturing and waste humans have changed the natural balance of earth.  In only the past few hundred years, plants and animals have become extinct within a few generations rather than slowly through natural change. National Endangered Species Day is a time to think about how we live, how it might be effecting other life on Earth, and work toward making changes that will allow us all to share the planet.

In our area, the Northern Sierra Nevada and Great Basin, there are eleven endangered or threatened species, (a threatened species is a type of plant or animal that, for now, is holding it’s own but if changes continue to happen to it’s environment, the species could easily become endangered) and others that need additional study and research to learn how ‘in danger’ they may be. Check back all week to read about some of these species of special concern. Some might be plants and animals you know about, others you may never have heard of. But all are important parts of the environment, and each has a special role to fill. The loss of one species might not make any impact we can see, but every plant and animal connects with others, and those connect with still more, until entire ecosystems are created and maintained. The loss of even one species could cause the entire system to fail. Extinct is forever.

A few species from around the world that have become extinct in just the past 40 years:

Extinct Panthera tigris sondaica WIKI

Javan Tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) Once so common they were considered a nuisance, by the 1970’s there were less than ten individuals remaining.





Extinct Bufo periglenes USFWS

Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes) Discovered in the mountains of Coast Rica in 1966, by 1989 none could be found anywhere.






Extinct Capra pyrenaica WIKIPyrenean Ibex(Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica) A once common type of mountain goat native to the Pyrenne Mountains of France and Spain, the last animal of this species was seen in 2000.








Extinct Lipotes vexillifer IUCNBaiji (Chinese/Yangtze River Dolphin) (Lipotes vexillifer) A freshwater aquatic mammal, intensive industrial use of its river home has resulted in not a single animal observed since 2006.

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