IN THIS SERIES Climate, Conservation, Extinction, Mankind and My Contribution.             Main Page

BIHRMANN's THOUGHTS                  
                    ABOUT EXTINCTION

This is some thoughts and facts about extinction, manmade and natural
  Since the very start of life, species have died out. Some have more or less slowly changed into new species, other have been the victims of predators, diseases, lack of food, competition, environmental changes and disasters. You might say extinction is just the other side of evolution.
 That is only natural, but never have one species been responsible for so much devastating slaughtering as Homo sapiens.
 I have a hard time calling this natural! It is like the humankind is a pandemic, and we need to come up with a cure - fast!

The Tasmanian Wolf, Thylacinus cynocephalus.

The Australia's short-tailed hopping-mouse.
The Natural Extinction - a Part of Evolution by Selection
 Extinction have been caused by many factors in the past. If they haven't occurred, there would not have been room for new species, and it is just the way nature works. This way, new species can adopt to changes in the environment, and that is the only way to secure life it selves to remain, while the non-biological habitats changes.
 It is always a balance between resources and demands. To be a success, you need to find a niche - or clime it! If you are too successful, you might end up using all the resources and starve to death. It is a race to optimise the exploitation of the recourses and fighting off the enemies while securing the species.
The Big Picture
 The Earth was a hostile place in the beginning. 3800 millions years ago (mya), the first traces of life was found in the sea. A setback 800-600 mya due to an ice age let afterwards to an explosion of species in the sea 500 mya. Then a new disaster 439 mya let to plants on the dry land and then insects. 364 mya, and a new setback - or help? That let to the amphibians occupying the land and then came the reptiles. New ace age 251 mya, and the stage was cleared for the dinosaurs.  Birds and flowering plants followed, and then mammals. New disaster, probably the meteor in Mexico, and the stage was set for the rule of the mammals. Pretty calm until the ice age 3 mya, which let to the evaluation of Homo sapiens. Then it have been pretty calm for a very long time. Well, the eruption of Vulcan Toba 75,000 years ago caused "the Big Squeeze", reducing mankind to around 10,000. A small ice age 12,000 years ago, but since, the major changes have been caused by humans. Only tiny alterations, seen in the big perspective, but are something big coming, and what causes it?

The true Quagga, Equus quagga. Breeding work have been done to recreate the species - if you can call it that. Else, it will be creating a new species that resembles the extinct.

The Moa, Dinornis maximus.     

Era Period Époque/continents Event Million Y
    Anthrocaen (Manmade) "Long Summer"

0-300 y

  Quaternary Holocene   0,008
      Big Squeeze 0,075
    Pleistocene Humans 1,8
      S + N America joins 3
    Pliocene Upraise primates 5,3
Cenozoic   Miocene Reduced rainforest 23,8
  Tertiary Oligocaene More Vertebrates 33,7
    ------------- Methane from ice 55
    Eocene Antarctic/Australia 55,5
    Palaeocaene Mass extinction 65
  Cretaceous   Flowering plants 145
  Jurassic   Birds 213
  Triassic Pangea Dinosaurs 248
  ----------- 500-180 Ice age  251
Mesozoikum Permian   Conifers+Reptiles 340 286
  Carboniferous Gondwana Amphibians 360
  ---------- ~550-30 Mass extinction 364
  Devon Joins Insects 410
  ------------ til 180 Mass extinction 439
  Silurian Laurasia Fish 440
Paleozoic Ordovician 300-60 Sea vertebrates 505
  Cambrian Pannotia 600-540 Cam. Explosion of life 544
Proterozoic   Rodinia 1100-750 Ice Age  800-600
    Columbia   18-1500
    Nena   1800
    Kenorland 2700   2500
Achaeikum   Ur 3000 Organic life 3800
Hadean   Vaalbara 3600 Creation of the Earth 4500
 The Natural Extinction, Caused Changes In The Environment
 The Earth have changed through time. Some changes have been made by non-biological factors, others by life it selves. These factors are discussed on the Climate-Page.
 In general, it seems like these changes have made more possibilities for life, than they have reduced them. Even the catastrophes, which have altered the environment so fast, species have been unable to adopt or escape. It have wiped out numerous species, but within a few million years, they are replaced with new, and even more sophisticated species, which have adopted to  the new environment. 

Part of Western Australia which used to be green.

The Passenger Pigeon
 This is NOT an Excuse to Kill More Species!
 As disused on the  Mankind-Page, the amount of humans have exploded like a pandemic, and as for so many other species, this leads to battles over resources. Unfortunately, the fight is not fair: Not only are the humans using weapons, killing for fun, gathering more than they can use and invading habitats they can't maintain, but their greed seems to override their sense. Seen in the big perspective (millions of years), it might not matter, but we are only guests on the Earth, and we should behave with courtesy.
 We might feel richer, having some yellow metal  stored in a safe, but what we loos of plant- and animal species is a so much greater loss. Our planet get poorer and poorer, and we might end up spoiling our own chance for survival. Just like a predator on a small island, eating everything else. And we think we are so smart?
 How Do We Extinct Species?
 The two major factors is by directly killing the plants and animals, or be altering their habitat. This are done either by stupidity or deliberately.
 The first species we drove to extinction was hunted down by ancient tribes for its meat. If we see it on a global perspective, it catches my eyes how well Africa have done - until just 200 years ago. That despite - of more likely; because we evolved on its planes.
 We started slowly, and the African animals had time to adopt to us - learn to fear us and bread faster. When we later captured new continents, we did it in a speed which the animals and plants couldn't catch up with.
 That hit hard on especially the mega-fauna, which only slowly multiplied. Same goes for our comparators; the predators.

The Caribbean Monk Seal
 Direct Killing
* Hunting without any thoughts for the survival of the species.
* Poison too successive, or used with the intension to kill something else.
* Traffic both on land and on the sea.
* Garbage filling the seas and land.
* Structures and machines meant to do something else.
 Indirectly Killing
 Not only do we kill the animals and plants directly. We also alters their environment by:
* Removal of their habitat. Logging forests, cultivating fields, building roads and cities, competition by livestock.
* Removal of their food or water. By hunting down their natural food sources or organisms they are relaying on for pollination,  spreading of seeds, nest building material, keep their enemies in recently numbers, removing shadow ...
* Introducing new species. These can be pests or predators. If newcomer eats their food or plants that are important. Or the new animal is too poison, like the cane toad in Australia. Some major disasters have been goats, pigs, rats, cats, dogs, snakes, foxes...
* Building barriers. Gabs in the rainforest, dams on rivers, roads, whole cities, mono-culture farmland.
* Diseases, spread by livestock or escaped pets.
* Wars,
doing a combination of factors.
* Stress,
caused by the invasion of the habitat.
* Poisons, from our production of goods, left in the wild or taken way too little care of.

The White Lemuroid Possum.

The Dodo, Raphus cucullatus.
 What Have We Lost?
  I did try to put together a list of species of plants and animals, which have been extinct while humans ruled the world. I stopped; it was too depressing. A bit is found in the button of this page.
 I also wanted to make a list of the species which sadly seems to be added to this extinct list soon. It turned out to be way too comprehensive, and I can only recommend IUCN RedList.
 I will name a few species, extinct by man, either because I consider them a huge loss, it shows the humankinds immense power to destruct or they are some of the icons.
 The List is Almost Endless, And Still Growing
  The Dodo, Raphus cucullatus was one of the first animals people actually realised we have lost. Found on Mauritius until around 1662 or 1693.
  The Passenger Pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius one, if not the most numerous bird in our time. 3-4 billions was found in North America. Hunted down, mainly between 1870 and 1890. Last died in captivity in 1914.
 The forests in general. Europe, Australia, North America, Madagascar, Asia....
 The Tasmanian Wolf, Thylacinus cynocephalus  hunted down, although it didn't attack the sheep. Last died in Hobart Zoo - they didn't bother!
 The Quagga, Equus quagga was found in great numbers at South Africa's Cape Province. Last wild was shoot in 1870. Work are being done to recreate the species by breading - if you will consider that to be the species!
 The Moa, Dinornis maximus killed by the first settlers on New Zealand around 700 AD.
 The Caribbean Monk Seal, Monachus tropicalis extinct around 1952.
 The Australia's short-tailed hopping-mouse, Notomys amplus became extinct around 1896, due to loss of habitat.
 The White Lemuroid Possum, Hemibelideus lemuroides is thought to gone extinct just recently.

And to name some of the other mammals: Antillean cave rat, Arabian gazelle, Aurochs, Barbados raccoon, Barbados rice-rat , Barbuda rice-rat, Barbuda rice-rat, Basalt plains mouse, Bavarian pine vole , Big-eared hopping mouse, , Black-footed ferret, , Bluebuck , Blunt-toothed mouse, Brazilian three-banded armadillo, Broad-faced potoroo , Buhler's rat, Bulldog rat, Canary mouse, Cayman Brac hutia, Cayman Brac nesophont , Cayman hutia, Central hare-wallaby, Central rock rat, Columbian hutia , Corozal rat, Corsican shrew, Crescent nailtail, Cuban spider monkey, Curaçao giant rice rat, Curaçao sloth, Curio's giant rat , Dark flying fox, Darling Downs hopping mouse, Darwin's Galapagos mouse , Desert bandicoot, Desert rat-kangaroo, Dusky flying fox, Eastern hare-wallaby , Emperor rat, Falkland Islands dog, Fernandina Galapagos mouse, Field's mouse , Flat-headed myotis, Flores cave rat, Flores long-nosed rat, Florida naked-tailed rat , Giant deer mouse, Goliath white-toothed shrew, Grand Cayman hutia , Atlantic gray whale, Great hopping mouse, Great key mouse, Grooved-toothed forest mouse , Guadalcanal rat, Guam flying fox, Gulf of California woodrat, Gull Island vole , Hairy-eared dwarf lemur, Haitian edible rat, Hensel's field mouse, Ilin bushy-tailed cloud rat, Imposter hutia, Indefatigable Galapagos mouse , Insular cave rat, Jamaica rice-rat, Jamaican monkey, Jamaican pallid flower bat , Large Corsican field vole, Large funnel-eared bat, Large ghost faced bat , Large Palau flying fox, Large sloth lemur, Large-eared tenrec, Lava mouse , Lemke's hutia, Lesser bilby, Lesser Cuban nesophont, Lesser stick-nest rat , Lesser yellow bat, Long-tailed hopping mouse, long-nosed potoroo , Lord Howe Island bat, Maclear's rat, Madagascan pygmy hippopotamus; common Malagasy hippo , Malagasy dwarf hippopotamus, Marcano's solenodon, Marianas flying fox , Martinique giant rice-rat, Miller's myotis, Montane hutia, Mummy shrew , Negros naked-backed fruit bat, Nelson's rice-rat, Nendo tube-nosed fruit bat , New Guinea big-eared bat, New Zealand greater short-tailed bat, Old fig-eating bat, Omilteme cottontail, Oriente cave rat, Osborn's key mouse , Pemberton's deer mouse, Philippine fruit bat, Pigfooted bandicoot, Poey's pallid flower bat, Pristine mustached bat, Przewalski's horse , Puerto Rican flower bat, Puerto Rican hutia, Puerto Rican plate-toothed mouse , Puerto Rican sloth, Queen of Sheba's gazelle, Rabida Galapagos mouse , Red fruit bat, Red gazelle, Red hairy-tailed bat, Santiago Galapagos Mouse , Sardinian pika, Saudi gazelle, Schomburgk's deer, Sea mink, Short-horned water buffalo , Short-tailed hopping mouse, Small key mouse, Southeastern pocket gopher , St. Lucia giant rice-rat, St. Vincent pygmy rice-rat, Standing's hippo, Steller's sea cow, Sturdee's Bonin pipistrelle, Swan Island hutia , Tanzania woolly bat, Tasmanian bettong, Toolache wallaby, Torre's cave rat, Tretretretre, Verhoeven's giant tree rat , Vespucci's rat, Victorious nesophont, Vietnam warty pig, West Indian monk seal , West Indian porcupine, Western Cuban nesophont, Western palm squirrel , White-footed rabbit-rat.

Some Birds: Ascension flightless crake , Atitlan grebe, Auckland Island merganser, Bishop's O`o, Black mamo , Black-fronted parakeet, Bonin Grosbeak, Bonin Wood pigeon, Brawny great moa , Burley lesser moa, Canarian black oystercatcher, Carolina parakeet , Chatham Island banded rail, Chatham Island rail, Chatham Island swan , Columbian grebe, Crested sheldrake, Cuban red mawcaw, Dodo, Four-coloured flowerpecker , Gaudalupe caracara, Gaudalupe storm-petrel, Glaucous mawcaw, Grand Cayman thrush , Great auk, Great elephantbird, Greater `amakihi, Greater Koa finch , Hawaii `akialoa, Hawaii O`o, Hawaiian mamo, Hawaiian rail, Himalayan mountain quail, Hollandais pigeon, Huia, Jamaican least pauraque , Kangaroo Island black emu, Kioea, Kittlitz's thrush, Kona grosbeak, Kosrae crake, Kosrae Mountain starling, Labrador duck, Lanai `akialoa , Lanai creeper, Lanai hookbill, Lanai thrush, Laysan honeycreeper , Laysan millerbird, Laysan rail, Laysan rail, Lesser Koa finch, Lord Howe purple gallinule , Lord Howe white-eye, Mascarene coot, Mascarene parrot, Mauritian duck , Mauritian shelduck, Mauritius grey parrot, Mauritius night-heron , Mauritius parrot, Mysterious starling, New Caledonia lorikeet, New Caledonia wood rail , New Caledonian owlet-frogmouth, New Zealand bush wren, New Zealand little bittern , New Zealand quail, Norfolk Island kaka, Norfolk Island starling , Oahu `akepa, Oahu `akialoa, Oahu nukupu`u, Oahu O`o, Oahu thrush , Passenger pigeon, Pink-headed duck, Pipio or New Zealand thrush , Pohnpei Mountain starling, Raiatea parakeet, Red rail, Red-moustached fruit-dove, Reuinon dodo, Reunion flightless ibis, Rodrigues night-heron , Snail-eating coua, South Island tokoweka, Speckled cormorant, Ula-ai-hawane , Reunion Island starling, Rodrigues Island starling, Rodrigues little owl, Rodrigues parrot, Rodrigues pigeon, Rodrigues rail, Rodrigues ring-necked parakeet, Rodrigues solitaire, RyuKyu kingfisher, Ryukyu wood pigeon , Samoan woodhen, Seychelles Alexandrine parrot, Slender-billed grackle , Solomon Island crowned pigeon, Stephen Island wren, Thahiti sandpiper , Townsend's finch, Tristan moorhen, Wake Island rail.

And then there are the Reptiles:, Amphibians, Fish, Insects, Plants and all kind of other organisms. 

IN THIS SERIES: Thoughts about; Climate, Conservation, Extinction, Mankind and My Contribution.