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The Sixth Extinction and Endangered Species

Updated on January 29, 2020

First Five Extinctions

The earth is over four billion years old and it has had five mass extinctions already. Some scientists believe we are already in the sixth extinction.

The First Five Extinctions are:

1. The Late Devonian - 375 million years ago. 75% loss of species. It is believed the cause of this extinction was movements by the continental drift and climate. Change This extinction came in two waves. The first was an ice age, sea levels lowered, and the species could not adapt fast enough to survive. The second wave happened when the ice melted, and it happened so fast that the oceans rose too quickly, destroying habitat.

2. End Ordovician- 444 million years ago. 86% of species lost. It is believed to have been caused by the loss of oxygen in the oceans, possibly volcanic eruptions, and meteors. The exact cause of eludes scientists.

3. End Permian - 251 million years ago. 96% loss of species. Called the "the great dying" and nearly ended life on earth. Caused by cataclysmic eruption near Siberia. Although the exact cause is unknown, it is believed the Siberian Traps volcanic eruption was the cause.

4. End Triassic - 200 million years ago - 80% loss of species. The reason is found to be flooding, climate change, and volcanic activity.

5. End Cretaceous - 66 million years ago- 76% loss of species. This was the end of the dinosaurs when a meteor struck the earth, wiping them out.

6. And now, scientists believe we are in the sixth extinction. And this time, the cause is due to humans.

In the next 50 years, humans will drive so many species to extinction that scientists believe it may take anywhere from 7 million to 10 million years yo take the planet to what it was before humans.

The United Nations has reported that humans have altered 75 % of all land, 66% of the oceans. 85% of wetlands have been lost and that 79 million acres of forest have dropped from 2010-2015. These are significant losses.

Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Triassic, K-T,

Ordovician Extinction
Ordovician Extinction
Devonian Extinction
Devonian Extinction
Permian Extinction
Permian Extinction
Triassic Extinction
Triassic Extinction
K-T Extinction
K-T Extinction


Called the "Age of Humans"

To quote professor Aubrey Manning, zoologist:

"Looking across the world at present, it is obvious to anybody at all who has even the slightest of biological knowledge that human numbers are already out of balance."

Factors contributing to the decline are habitat destruction, pollution, overharvesting, climate change, human activities. Some of the social events include; hunting, pollution, and diseases in livestock and crops.

Illegal hunting of animals and poaching is having a significant impact on animals. Even the harvesting of sponges, nautilus shells for crafts and decorations are impacting the species.

There is an article on The Nation, January 7, 2019, by Tom Engelhardt that is genuinely enlightening.

Remember that during the First Five Extinctions, humans were not around. Today, it is humans responsible for the Sixth Extinction.

Change only happens when individuals take action. It is up to every one of us to be responsible for caring about our planet and the species that inhabit it.

The Small Tardigrade

A Tardigrade
A Tardigrade

The Industructible Tardigrade

This small but mighty near-microscopic animal is the only survivor of the past five extinctions. It is nature's most robust and can withstand minus -328 degrees and over 300 degrees. It has eight legs and hands with four claws on each. It can survive in boiling water, in ice, or withstand radiation. Is it any wonder it has survived above all other living things.

Some Oldest Species on Earth

Listed below are some of the oldest species on earth and their age:

Coelacamath - 360 million years ago

Horseshoe Crab - 445 million years ago

Nautilus - 500 million years ago

Jelly Fish - 550 million years ago

Sponge 580 million years ago

Cyanobaacteria - 2.8 billion years ago

Coelacamath Fish, Scientific name Latimeria

Coelacamath Fish
Coelacamath Fish

Horseshoe Crab, Scientific name: iimulus polyphemus

Horseshoe Crab
Horseshoe Crab

Nautilus, Scientific Name nautilus beauensis


Jelly Fish, Scientific Name scyphozoa

Jelly Fish
Jelly Fish

Some Endangered Species of Extinction

Here is a sampling of some critically endangered species:

Hawksbill Turtle


Stella Sea Lion

Hawaiian Monk Seal

Sumatran Elephant




Turtles, Sea Lions, Monk Seals, Elephants, Gorillas, Rhinocerous

Hawksbille Turtle, Scientific Name eretmochelys imbricata
Hawksbille Turtle, Scientific Name eretmochelys imbricata
Steller Sea LionScientific Name Eumetopias jubatus
Steller Sea LionScientific Name Eumetopias jubatus
Hawaiian Monk Seal Scientific Name monachus schauinsland
Hawaiian Monk Seal Scientific Name monachus schauinsland
Samontra Elephaant Scientific Name elaphas maximus sumaatrensis
Samontra Elephaant Scientific Name elaphas maximus sumaatrensis
Rhinocerous Scientific Name rhinocerotidae
Rhinocerous Scientific Name rhinocerotidae

Doing Our Part

Recycle cell phones, don't just put them in trash

Don't litter

Grow native plants

Avoid herbicides and pesticides

Cut out plastics

Avoid products from endangered species such as Nautilus Shells

Donate to conservation groups

Volunteer with conversation groups

Write your congressman

Place a decal on windows.

Bur energy-efficient appliances

Reduce water waste

buy better bulbs


A book, The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015, the Massachusetts Book Award, 2014 Library Journal Award and, 1014 National Book Critics Award

Greta Thunberg, Environmental Activist

Greta, a young teenager from Sweden, has taken on the world about climate control and has made it her mission to make us aware of the critical problems today. Greta has won numerous awards, including being named Time Magazine person of the Year, 2019 International Peace Prize, 2019 Ambassador of Conscience Award, and other various awards.

Greta has a voice, and she is using it around the world.

It is unbelievable that the Trump Administration is so blind to what is happening with climate change. Now is the time to strengthen the Endangered Species Conversation Act of 1973, not cripple it.


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