MadSci Network: Environment/Ecology

Subject: RE: Extinction

Posted by Dave Young
Grade level: Grad student Dept. of Biology, Molecular Biology Program
City: State/Province:
Area of science: Environment/Ecology

Nicholas, Thanks for your question. "Extinction" is a very interesting topic and we all need to become more familiar with it. Extinction is actually a very natural process. It is estimated that 1 in 1000 of all species of life ever present on the earth eventually became extinct. When you consider that the earth is about 3 billion years old that is a lot of organisms. In fact, everyday some type of organism probably disappears from the face of the earth. There are millions of bacteria, insects and other creatures that we haven't even identified. Some of these will disappear before we DO identify them.

While extinction is a natural process, humans have unfortunately caused many animals to the verge of extinction before the animals normally would have reached that point. Animals such as the Tiger, Black Rhino and Giant Panda are very close to disappearing. As for whether they will in your lifetime, it is difficult to say. There are many preservation groups fighting to see that they don't. It is important for kids like you to take an interest in conservation efforts to ensure that these amazing animals don't leave us. I hope this answers your questions Nicholas. There are many web sites that are dedicated to the topic of extinction. The one that I find most useful is at EE-link

Good luck.

Dave Young
Yale University