Study: Earth may be experiencing sixth mass extinction

Study: Earth may be experiencing sixth mass extinction
Credit: National Geographic

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A new study is suggesting that Earth may be experiencing a mass extinction, as animals are going extinct at an unprecedented rate not seen before in the span of human life.

Earth has had mass extinctions in the past, the last being the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction about 66 million years ago that affected the dinosaurs.

The new study analyzed how human interactions have accelerated the rate of extinctions in the past 500 years, and found a clear distinction between humans and survival rates of animals.

The latest study on this extinction was done by an international team lead by Gerardo Ceballos from the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Extinction rates of animals over the last 500 years. Credit: IUCN (2012).

Using a conservative estimate of species lost over the last 500 years, study results indicated that Earth has begun a mass extinction, accelerated by human disruptions on the planet.

Humans have taken over massive amounts of land and are now starting to deplete the ocean by overfishing. Forests have also been greatly reduced.

This study did not say which species are most vulnerable or which ones are likely to go extinct first, but it did state many animals roaming the Earth now will not be around in the next 100 years.

This would be the sixth mass extinction on the planet since it was born 3.5 billion years ago.

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