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Returning the planet's biodiversity to the state it was in before modern humans evolved would take even longer — up to 7 million years. A study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution reveals that it took around 10 million years for Earth's biodiversity to rebound from the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.

A study published in February found that alien species are a primary driver of recent animal and plant extinctions. An alien species is the term for any kind of animal, plant, fungus, or bacteria that isn't native to an ecosystem. Some can be invasive, meaning they cause harm to the environment to which they're introduced. Many invasive alien species have been unintentionally spread by humans. People can carry alien species with them from one continent, country, or region to another when they travel. Shipments of goods and cargo between places can also contribute to a species' spread.

Zebra mussels and brown marmorated stink bugs are two examples of invasive species in the US. The recent study showed that since the year , there have been global extinctions. Roughly one-third of those were at least partially because of the introduction of alien species. Higher ocean temperatures and acidification of the water cause corals to expel the algae living in their tissues and turn white, a process known as coral bleaching.

As a consequence, coral reefs — and the marine ecosystems they support — are dying. Most native fish populations are expected decline, and some will likely be driven to extinction, the study authors said. Fish species that need water colder than 70 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive are especially at risk.


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Water, like most things, expands when it heats up — warmer water takes up more space. Already, the average global sea level is 5 to 8 inches higher than it was in , according to Smithsonian. In February, Australia's environment minister officially declared a rodent called the Bramble Cay melomys to be the first species to go extinct because of human-driven climate change — specifically, sea-level rise.

The tiny rat relative was native to an island in the Queensland province, but its low-lying territory sat just 10 feet above sea level. The island was increasingly inundated by ocean water during high tides and storms, and those salt-water floods took a toll on the island's plant life. That flora provided the melomys with food and shelter, so the decrease in plants likely led to the animal's demise.

Melting ice sheets could raise sea levels significantly. The Antarctic ice sheet is melting nearly six times as fast as it did in the s. Greenland's ice is melting four times faster now than it was 16 years ago. It lost more than billion tons of ice in alone.

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In a worst-case scenario, called a "pulse," the glaciers that hold back Antarctica's and Greenland's ice sheets could collapse. That would send massive quantities of ice into the oceans, potentially leading to rapid sea-level rise around the world. Sea-level rise threatens federally protected animal and plant species in 23 coastal states across the US, according to a report from the Center for Biological Diversity. An analysis published in looked at over studies about declining animal populations and found that one in six species could disappear as the planet continues to heat up. Flora and fauna from South America and Oceania are expected top be the hardest hit, while North American species would have the lowest risk.

The most devastating mass extinction in planetary history is called the Permian-Triassic extinction, or the "Great Dying. The event far eclipsed the cataclysm that killed the last of the dinosaurs some million years later. But the Great Dying didn't come out of left field.

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Scientists think the mass extinction was caused by a l arge-scale and rapid release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by Siberian volcanoes , which quickly warmed the planet — so there were warning signs. User comments. Apr 22, For the animals that have been driven to extinction by human activities or that where possibly made extinct by humanity such as the Dodo for certain , the passenger pigeon, the mammoth, and any others similar hunted out species, there is an ethical obligation on humanity to bring them back to repopulate areas where it is possible to still do so.

Report Block. And if not: why not? Would you extend these 'ethical obligations' to Rinderpest and smallpox? How is that even the same thing? One was a bird that was shot to extinction for no good reason , and the other is a disease that killed millions of people and was eradicated on purpose.

Point being: Humans eradicated both. I was questioning what was the reason behind one such decision being 'ethical' while the other one may not be. What is 'ethical' about bringing a species back from the dead? Now, I'm not saying that it there's something wrong with trying to revive an extinct species.

No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species by Richard Ellis

It's just the 'ethical' component that baffles me. Aaron has argued that it would be unethical not to try to revive them. If you are going to start questioning ethics, why don't you consider the original argument made in the article? Apr 23, In that case I'll side with Hank Greely: "I think the strongest reason to do it is just that it would be awesome," he said. Having a 'dis-extincted' species in one doesn't sound so much different. It would be cool - but I still don't see where ethics comes into this mandating that we do or don't do it.

No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species

The pain and suffering aspect is certainly an ethical one. But that one is completely independent of the issue at hand as it pertains to extinct and non-extinct creatures alike. So it isn't an argument for or against doing it. Can you?


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  4. Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change;
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    Your message to the editors. Your email only if you want to be contacted back. Send Feedback. Your friend's email. Your email. I would like to subscribe to Science X Newsletter. Learn more. Your name. Note Your email address is used only to let the recipient know who sent the email. Your message. Your Privacy This site uses cookies to assist with navigation, analyse your use of our services, and provide content from third parties. Ok More Information. There are plenty of species out there on the verge of extinction now that could be saved with the same resources.

    For McCauley, who recently published a set of guidelines for selecting de-extinction species that would do the most good for the ecosystem, the new research is sobering. Conceptually, de-extinction is certainly still cool. By Jeffrey Mervis Sep. By Martin Enserink Sep.

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