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Which animals could go extinct by 2050?

But is this just the worst case? Is such a dramatic decline in species on Earth likely to occur?


Five mass extinctions have occurred in Earth’s history, and numerous experts have warned that a sixth mass extinction could already be underway as a result of human activity since the Age of Exploration. Some scientists have even suggested that nearly 40% of species(opens in new tab) currently residing on our planet could become extinct by 2050.

But is this just the worst case? Is such a dramatic decline in species on Earth likely to occur?

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A growing death toll

A sixth mass extinction is definitely plausible, said Nic Rawlence, director of the Otago Palaeogenetics Laboratory and a senior professor of ancient DNA in the Department of Zoology at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

“I think it’s quite likely,” Rawlence told LiveScience in an email. “And, if species do not go extinct globally, those that cannot adapt to our rapidly changing world are likely to experience range contractions, population bottlenecks, local extinctions, and become functionally extinct. current extinction crisis may not have reached the height of the big five, but it is certainly on the right track if nothing is done to stop it.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (opens in new tab), about 41,000, about a third of all assessed species, are currently threatened with extinction.

known species and subspecies

Many well-known species and subspecies — including the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii), Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus), black rhino (Diceros bicornis), hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Sunda tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica) and Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) — are classified as “critically endangered,” meaning that they are at extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, according to both the IUCN and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

According to a 2022 report published in the journal Nature(opens in a new tab), two in five amphibians (40.7%) are now threatened with extinction, while a 2016 report published in the journal Biology Letters( opens in a new tab) states that by 2050, 35% of frogs in the humid tropics of Queensland, Australia “could be threatened with extinction”.

In fact, the amphibian decline is likely to be even steeper. Scientists admit that there are many amphibians for which they have had trouble collecting detailed information, and these species are classified as Data Deficient (DD).

According to a report published in 2022 in the journal Communications Biology, (opens in a new tab), “85% of DD amphibians are likely to be threatened with extinction, as are more than half of DD species in many other taxonomic groups, such as mammals and reptiles”.

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