Posts Tagged ‘Extinct Species’

Caribbean Monk Seal Gone Extinct From Human Causes, NOAA Confirms

June 9, 2008

After a five year review, NOAA’s Fisheries Service has determined that the Caribbean monk seal, which has not been seen for more than 50 years, has gone extinct—the first type of seal to go extinct from human causes.

Monk seals became easy targets for hunters while resting, birthing, or nursing their pups on the beach. Overhunting by humans led to these seals’ demise, according to NOAA biologists.

The last confirmed sighting of the seal was in 1952 in the Caribbean Sea at Seranilla Bank, between Jamaica and the Yucatán Peninsula. This was the only subtropical seal native to the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

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VIDEO: Last Tasmanian Tiger, Thylacine, 1933

May 21, 2008

World First Discovery: Genes From Extinct Tasmanian Tiger Function In A Mouse

May 21, 2008

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, Australia, and the University of Texas, USA, have extracted genes from the extinct Tasmanian tiger (thylacine), inserted it into a mouse and observed a biological function — this is a world first for the use of the DNA of an extinct species to induce a functional response in another living organism.

The results showed that the thylacine Col2a1 gene has a similar function in developing cartilage and bone development as the Col2a1 gene does in the mouse.

“This is the first time that DNA from an extinct species has been used to induce a functional response in another living organism,” said Dr Andrew Pask, RD Wright Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Department of Zoology who led the research.

“As more and more species of animals become extinct, we are continuing to lose critical knowledge of gene function and their potential.”

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Flesh eating insects feasted on dino bones

May 10, 2008

A new study has attributed the cause of most dinosaur skeletons exhibiting pits, grooves and furrows to flesh and bone-eating insects, which gnawed on the dinosaur bones.

According to a report in the Discovery News, the evidence comes from dinosaur bones that were buried under soft mud 148 million years ago after a nearby river overflowed.

Utah’s Western Paleontological Laboratories recovered the bones and turned them over to Brigham Young University scientists, who recently pieced together what happened.

After scientists recreated the event, they found out that a Camptosaurus adolescent dinosaur died in what is now Wyoming, lying down for its final rest.

Flying low over a floodplain a few days later, dermestid beetles used their antennae to detect the odor of the decaying carcass, where they laid their larvae that consumed the dinosaurs bones.

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Dwarf Cloud Rat Rediscovered After 112 Years of “Extinction”

May 3, 2008

A team of Filipino and American scientists have rediscovered a highly distinctive mammal — a greater dwarf cloud rat — that was last seen 112 years ago. Furthermore, it has never before been discovered in its natural habitat and was thought by some to be extinct.

The greater dwarf cloud rat (Carpomys melanurus) has dense, soft reddish-brown fur, a black mask around large dark eyes, small rounded ears, a broad and blunt snout, and a long tail covered with dark hair. An adult weighs about 185 grams.

“This beautiful little animal was seen by biologists only once previously — by a British researcher in 1896 who was given several specimens by local people, so he knew almost nothing about the ecology of the species,” said Lawrence Heaney, Curator of Mammals at the Field Museum and Project Leader. “Since then, the species has been a mystery, in part because there is virtually no forest left on Mt. Data, where it was first found.”

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Dead as a dodo? Why scientists fear for the future of of the Asian vulture

April 30, 2008

You have to feel sorry for vultures. For animal campaigners they are a difficult case. Other, more photogenic, slightly less sinister creatures may gain the world’s sympathy at the drop of a hat, but raising money to save the world’s most proficient scavenger is a different matter.

As far as the Asian vulture is concerned, however, the situation is now urgent. Asian vultures may be ugly, but soon, if current trends continue, their unprepossessing appearance will be consigned to history.

The population of the oriental white-backed vulture, predominantly native to India, is dwindling at a rate of 40 per cent a year, making it the fastest declining wild bird in history. Their numbers have plummeted by 99.9 per cent since 1992. Indeed, its slide to extinction may be more rapid than that of the dodo.

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Species loss ‘bad for our health’

April 27, 2008

A new generation of medical treatments could be lost forever unless the current rate of biodiversity loss is reversed, conservationists have warned.

They say species are being lost before researchers have had the chance to examine and understand their potential health benefits.

The findings appear in Sustaining Life, a book involving more than 100 experts.

It is being published ahead of a global summit in May that will look at ways to stem biodiversity loss by 2010.

“While extinction is alarming in its own right, the book demonstrates that many species can help human lives,” said co-author Jeffrey McNeely, chief scientist at IUCN (formerly known as the World Conservation Union).

“If we needed more justification for action to conserve species, it offers dozens of dramatic examples of both why and how citizens can act in ways that will conserve, rather than destroy, the species that enrich our lives.”

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Bikini Corals Recover From Atomic Blast, Although Some Species Missing

April 16, 2008

Half a century after the last earth-shattering atomic blast shook the Pacific atoll of Bikini, the corals are flourishing again. Some coral species, however, appear to be locally extinct.

These are the findings of a remarkable investigation by an international team of scientists from Australia, Germany, Italy, Hawaii and the Marshall Islands.  The expedition examined the diversity and abundance of marine life in the atoll.

One of the most interesting aspects is that the team dived into the vast Bravo Crater left in 1954 by the most powerful American atom bomb ever exploded (15 megatonnes – a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb).  The Bravo bomb vapourised three islands, raised water temperatures to 55,000 degrees, shook islands 200 kilometers away and left a crater 2km wide and 73m deep.

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When little things that rule world are lost

April 14, 2008

There are 6.5 billion people in the world today, three times as many as 50 years ago. There are undoubtedly three billion fewer insects, the forgotten creatures that maintain the fabric of life.

These include bees, butterflies, moths and all flying mites and invertebrates and sea creatures that inhabit earth and slime. Not many people, excepting scientists who watch and count, pay much attention.

Almost everybody is aware of the travails of the major star species such as polar bears, pandas and tigers. We are reminded on a daily basis of their endangerment. There was a scare about bees last year but honey is still in the supermarkets so the bee colony collapse is more or less old news.

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