Is the world approaching a sixth mass extinction event? Scientists confirm signs!

Authors of the study are shocked because this kind of pattern hasn't been seen before in the half billion years of the animal fossil record.

Updated: Sep 19, 2016, 09:22 AM IST
Is the world approaching a sixth mass extinction event? Scientists confirm signs!
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New Delhi: Courtesy climate change as well as human behaviour towards nature and its beings, the world may need to prepare itself for its sixth mass extinction event.

The threat that the ecosystem is facing due to this, has scientists worried and going by the rate at which the world is losing out on its biodiversity, they say that a mass extinction isn't very far.

A new study published last week in Science magazine confirms that in the world’s oceans threats of extinction are not apportioned equally among all species — rather, the larger ones, in terms of body size and mass, are uniquely imperilled right now, according to Chris Mooney, who analysed the study for The Washington Post, the Gulf Times reported.

From sharks to whales, giant clams, sea turtles, and tuna, the disproportionate threat to larger marine organisms reflects the “unique human propensity to cull the largest members of a population,” the authors of the study have said.

Authors of the study are shocked because this kind of pattern hasn't been seen before in the half billion years of the animal fossil record.

“These losses in the ocean are paralleling what humans did to land animals some 50,000 to 10,000 years ago, when we wiped out around half of the big-bodied mammal species on Earth, like mammoths, mastodons, saber-tooth cats and the like,” said Anthony Barnosky, executive director of Stanford Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, who reviewed the study for the Post.

The underlying problem for the researchers, however, is the fear that if all the top predators of the food cycle are wiped out, it can cause a population explosion among the species they used to prey upon, which can have large devastating effects on the entire ecosystem.

The Gulf Times further reported that the current study underscores that ecosystem risks are not being principally driven by a changing climate — yet. Rather, they are being driven more directly by which species humans hunt and fish, and where they destroy ecosystems to build homes, farms, cities, and much more. But as climate change worsens, it will compound what is already happening.

The research is heartening for those who care about ocean conservation – precisely because human-driven large animal extinctions in the sea are not as advanced as they are on land, there is still a huge amount of biological life that we can save.