Scientists recognise that species continually disappear at a background extinction rate estimated at about one species per million per year, with new species replacing the lost in a sustainable fashion. Occasional mass extinctions convulse this orderly norm, followed by excruciatingly slow recoveries as new species emerge from the remaining gene-pool, until the world is once again repopulated by a different catalogue of flora and fauna. From what we understand so far, five great extinction events have reshaped earth in cataclysmic ways in the past 439 million years, each one wiping out between 50 and 95 per cent of the life of the day, including the dominant life forms. Today we’re living through the sixth great extinction.More than 16,000 species of the world’s mammals, birds, plants and other
organisms are at present officially regarded as threatened with extinction to one degree or another, according to the Red List. The last Red List update, released in May last year, looked at 40,168 species and considered 16,118 to be threatened – including 7,725 animals of all types (mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, insects etc) and 8,390 plants.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/animal-extinction–the-greatest-threat-to-mankind-397939.html

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