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Tag: extinction

Plant extinction ‘bad news for all species’

Plant extinction ‘bad news for all species’

Science
Almost 600 plant species have been lost from the wild in the last 250 years, according to a comprehensive study.The number is based on actual extinctions rather than estimates, and is twice that of all bird, mammal and amphibian extinctions combined.Scientists say plant extinction is occurring up to 500 times faster than what would be expected naturally.In May, a UN report estimated that one million animal and plant species were threatened with extinction. Researchers say their analysis of all documented plant extinctions in the world shows what lessons can be learned to stop future extinctions.Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few could name an extinct plant, said Dr Aelys Hum...
Declining fertility led to Neanderthal extinction, new model suggests

Declining fertility led to Neanderthal extinction, new model suggests

Science
May 31 (UPI) -- To better understand the decline of Neanderthals, researchers in France developed a population model and used simulations to determine which demographic factors had the largest effect on Neanderthal numbers. Their analysis, published this week in the journal PLOS One, showed declining fertility offers the likeliest explanation for the disappearance of the Neanderthals. Scientists have previously suggested the Neanderthal's extinction is best explained by catastrophe, like climate change or the spread of disease. But with limited empirical evidence, such hypotheses are difficult to test. Neanderthal remains suggest the hominin species died out over a period of 4,000 to 10,000 years. To better understand this decline, researchers built a model and ran simulations to test th...
Bedbugs survived the dinosaur extinction event

Bedbugs survived the dinosaur extinction event

Science
A study that began as an investigation into the "utterly bizarre" way in which bedbugs reproduce has revealed they have existed for far longer than humans. DNA samples from 30 species of bedbug revealed the insects had been around for at least 115 million years. The blood-sucking parasites predate their earliest known hosts - bats - by more than 50 million years. The surprising finding is published in the journal Current Biology.Prof Mike Siva-Jothy, from the University of Sheffield's department of animal and plant sciences, who was part of the research team, said its initial investigation had been into what is known as "traumatic insemination".Male bedbugs have a dagger-like penis, with which they stab the female to inseminate d...
Extinction Rebellion: Activists say meeting with Michael Gove ‘disappointing’

Extinction Rebellion: Activists say meeting with Michael Gove ‘disappointing’

Science
Extinction Rebellion says a meeting with Environment Secretary Michael Gove was "very disappointing" because he refused to declare a climate emergency. The group - who carried out 10 days of climate change protests across London - met Mr Gove on Tuesday for talks. But its youth representative, 14-year-old Felix Ottaway O'Mahony, said: "The rebellion has to continue because... our futures are not safe."Mr Gove said he "shared their high ideals" to tackle climate change.Earlier, the group also met shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who promised to engage with the group's demands, but activists said Labour needed to be "more ambitious" with its targets. The Welsh and Scottish governments have both declared a climate emergency, alon...
Extinction Rebellion: How might ministers win over the protesters?

Extinction Rebellion: How might ministers win over the protesters?

Science
Protests by Extinction Rebellion's seemingly inexhaustible army of activists made plenty of headlines last week.They say politicians are out of touch with climate reality. But what do they want, and can ministers realistically make it happen?Let's consider XR's three core demands: for the government to "tell the truth about climate change", to create a citizens' assembly to oversee progress, and to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025. If Mrs May regularly referred to a "climate crisis" or "climate emergency", that might fulfil their wish that the government should "tell the truth" A citizens' assembly looks unlikely, especially during the current constitutional mayhem of Brexit The third objective of cutting CO2 emissions to almost zero by 2025 is sur...