Extinction

‘Uncomfortable’ climates to devastate cities within a decade, study says

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 9, 2013   View Article

The world is hurtling toward a stark future where the web of life unravels, human cultures are uprooted, and millions of species go extinct, according to a new study. This doomsday scenario isn’t far off, either: It may start within a decade in parts of Indonesia, and begin playing out over most of the world — including cities across the United States — by mid-century.

What’s more, even a serious effort to stabilize spiraling greenhouse gas emissions will only stave off these changes until around 2069, notes the study from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, published online Wednesday in the journal Nature. The authors warn that the time is now to prepare for a world where even the coldest of years will be warmer than the hottest years of the past century and a half.

Turtles, snakes and lizards head toward extinction

Publication: NBC News   Date: February 15, 2013   View Article

Nearly one fifth of all reptiles — turtles, snakes, lizards and crocodiles — are on a slippery slope toward extinction due to loss of habitat, overharvesting and other factors, a new report says.

The study is the first of its kind to summarize the global conservation status of reptiles. More than 1,500 species were selected at random from around the world for conservation assessments in an effort to gain a representative sample.

Captive male frog coughs up babies

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: June 3, 2011   View Article

A captive male Darwin’s frog coughed up ten babies Thursday at a zoo in Santiago, Chile, a milestone in a project to save the amphibians from extinction.

The vulnerable species is one of two members of the only genus on Earth that rears its young inside of its vocal sac, a job taken on by the males.

Froggy finds raise hope for Haiti

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: January 12, 2011   View Article

Conservationists have rediscovered six species of frogs in Haiti, offering a ray of hope for the country on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that left it in shambles.

“I am very wary of highlighting frogs at this time in Haiti. Obviously the country has very pressing needs, but I think ultimately they are a symbol of something more hopeful,” said Robin Moore, an amphibian expert with Conservation International who helped lead the expedition that found the frogs.

Devonian die-off teaches grim lesson

Publication: msnbc.com   Date: December 30, 2010   View Article

A long, long time ago — between 378 million and 375 million years ago — about half of all species on the planet vanished. The trigger for this mass extinction, one of five known in Earth’s history, was a lethal combination of sea level rise and invasive species, according to a new study.

“The basic processes that normally result in new species forming were blocked,” study author Alycia Stigall, a paleobiologist at Ohio University, told me today.

Fungi, Feces Show Comet Didn’t Kill Ice Age Mammals?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 22, 2010   View Article

Tiny balls of fungus and feces may disprove the theory that a huge space rock exploded over North America about 12,900 years ago, triggering a thousand-year cold snap, according to a new study.

The ancient temperature drop, called the Younger Dryas, has been well documented in the geologic record, including soil and ice core samples.

The cool-down also coincides with the extinction of mammoths and other Ice Age mammals in North America, and it’s thought to have spurred our hunter-gatherer ancestors in the Middle East to adopt an agricultural lifestyle.

Comet “Shower” Killed Ice Age Mammals?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 7, 2010   View Article

The comet that created the annual Taurid meteor shower was also responsible for snuffing out large mammals in North America 13,000 years ago, a controversial new study says.

The geologic record shows that global temperatures plummeted by as much as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) just as Earth was thawing out from the last ice age.

This cold snap probably led to the extinction in North America of large animals such as saber-toothed cats and wooly mammoths. But scientists have been unsure what triggered the abrupt change.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach