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Section : Science and Technology

Study says Earth entering ‘great mass extinction event’
The last mass extinction event led to the demise of the dinosaurs after what was most likely a large meteor hitting Earth.

By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), 97 percent of wild tigers died in a little over a century. (File: AP)

Earth is now entering a new period of extinction, according to study conducted by thee top universities in the United States, the BBC reported.


Humans may be on the list of species to disappear, according to one of the authors of the study, published in the Science Advances and prepared by academics from the universities of Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley.


“We are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event,” one author said.


The last mass extinction event led to the demise of the dinosaurs after what was most likely a large meteor hitting Earth.


“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” lead author Gerardo Ceballos was quoted by the BBC as saying.


The study, titled “Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction,” corroborates a report published by Duke University in 2014, the BBC reported.


Duke biologist and extinction expert Stuart Pimm also warned that we are entering a sixth mass extinction event. But his report said the current rate of extinction was more than 1,000 times faster than in the past, as opposed to 114 the new study suggests.


By studying fossil records, scientists observed the rate at which vertebrates – animals with backbones – went extinct.


Findings place the current extinction rate at more than 100 times higher than in periods when Earth was not going through a mass extinction event.


According to the report, more than 400 vertebrates have disappeared since 1900, a loss that would normally be seen over a period of 10,000 years, scientists said.


Due to the knock-on effect of ecosystems, result of the disappearance of some species, benefits such as pollination by bees could be gone within three human generations.


Given the knock-on effect of ecosystems being destroyed, the report says benefits such as pollination by bees could be lost within three human generations.


“There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead,” Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich said.


“We are sawing off the limb that we are sitting on.”

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