Scientists Fear 'Sixth Mass Extinction' For World's Animals

One in five of the world's mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians are under danger of extinction, according to a major new stock take of life on Earth.

The dreadful study found that the number of endangered vertebrates, or animals with backbones, is still rising and that humans are largely to blame.

Many scientists believe the world is going through a 'sixth mass extinction' and that more wildlife is going destroyed now than at any time since the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago.

Around 20 per cent of the world's vertebrates are endangered, including 25 per cent of all mammals, 13 per cent of birds, 22 per cent of reptiles and 41 per cent of amphibians.

The scientists also found that 33 per cent of 'cartilaginous' fish - species such as shark, rays and skates whose skeletons are made from cartilage, were in danger, along with 15 per cent of bony fish.

Species at risk comprise the iconic polar bear, panda and Iberian lynx. Others include the Tasmanian devil - which has been deficiently hit by an infectious form of cancer, the Caspian seal and the Asian fishing cat.

British species on the list comprise the European eel whose numbers have plummeted by 99 per cent because of pollution and overfishing, the schelly - one of Britain's rarest freshwater fish which is found in only four lakes in the Lake District, and the aquatic warbler - a yellow brown guest to southern Britain in the late summer.

The report also warned that entire 'lineages' of species such as marine turtles and pandas are on the edge of being lost - with no similar species able to fill the ecological niches or functions they inhabit.
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