Now the new year is upon us, it’s easy to reflect upon 2018 and remember only the major news headlines.
But what about those topics which never made the headlines, those which were perhaps pushed to one side and have since been forgotten about?
Dozens of incredible species went extinct in 2018, leaving a huge void in the wild, which are not going to be replaced.
IFL Science compiled a list of those species which went extinct in the past year, starting with the Spix’s Macaw, known to many as the blue parrot portrayed in the animated children’s favourite Rio.
The Macaw was officially classified as ‘extinct in the wild’ in September, when it was seen in the wild for the last time.
Researchers said such dwindling losses shone a dark light on the extinction crisis, bringing the number of confirmed or likely bird extinctions up to 187 since the year 1500, ABC News reported at the time.
Also made extinct were the less well-known Alagoas foliage-gleaner, cryptic treehunter, and poo-uli – all of whom were moved from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘extinct’ on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.
A report conducted by BirdLife International found that the probability of these species’ survival was just 0.1.
Stuart Butchart, Chief Scientist at BirdLife International, told IFL Science at the time:
Human activities are the ultimate drivers of virtually all recent extinctions. It is certainly the case that the rate of extinctions on continents is higher than ever before. And that the rate will continue to increase without concerted conservation efforts.
2018 was also the year the Eastern Puma was officially declared extinct; the US Fish and Wildlife Service made the declaration in January, removing the animals from the list of endangered species for the final time.
The cats are the genetic cousin of mountain lions, which still inhabit much of the Western United States, and are related to a small, imperilled population of Florida panthers found only in the Everglades.
They measured up to 8 feet long from head to tail and could weigh as much as 140 pounds (63.5 kg). These beautiful creatures were once the most widely distributed land mammal in the Western Hemisphere.
Then humans happened, and due to an extermination campaign and systematic habitat destruction, the cats are now extinct. The last of their kind on record was killed by a hunter in Maine in 1938.
Not only that, but the last ever male northern white rhino, called Sudan, died in March, leaving just two females behind across the world. Ultimately, this means the species will soon be extinct.
In 1960, there were more than 2,000 of his kind in the world but poaching drove the species to the brink of extinction, meaning by 1984 there were just 15 left.
As well as wiping out some of the world’s newest species – like the Tapanuli orangutan, discovered in 2017 and already facing extinction thanks to human industry – we’re killing off some of the oldest species as well.
As reported by IFL Science, Chinese giant salamanders, the ‘living fossils’ whose ancestors existed amongst the stegosaurus and diplodocus, are now facing extinction. As are many of the world’s most unique sharks and rays, which have so far managed to survive for more than 250 million years.
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