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More than 500 species of vertebrates are at the limit of extinction

U.S. and Mexican ecologists tracked fluctuations in the number of almost 30,000 species of vertebrates on land and found that more than 500 of them were at the extinction limit, TASS reported.
“When humanity destroys another population or species of other living beings, it cuts down the branch on which we sit. We're destroying particularly important parts of the system that secures our lives. The preservation of extinct species should be such an important task for all countries and civilizations as the fight against global warming”, said Prof. Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University., transmits BTA.

Five years ago, Ehrlich and his colleagues announced that the sixth mass extinction of animals began on Earth. According to their calculations, in previous epochs, two mammal species were extinct for every 10,000 animal species that existed at the time. Over the two last centuries, this indicator has increased 114 times. According to their estimate, the extinction rates of the animals are now approaching the rate at which representatives of flora and fauna died 66 million years ago when dinosaurs, marine reptiles and pterosaurs disappeared.

Ehrlich and his colleagues have analysed how the numbers of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians have changed for 120 years and separated those whose numbers are below 1000.

They found that 515 species of animals met this criterion. That's 1.7 percent of Earth's total species diversity. A further 388 animal species are in the category approaching extinction - with a population of 1,000 to 5,000.

About one third of the dying vertebrates are in South America and 20% each on islands in Oceania and in different parts of Asia.

Article on the study was published in the journal. “Protocols of the American Academy of Sciences.”

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