Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
FILE - A blue whale is shown near a cargo ship in the Santa Barbara Channel off the California coast, Aug. 14, 2008. The oceans are turning into a Darwinian topsy-turvy place, where it’s survival of the smallest and the bigger a species is, the more prone it is to die off. VOA
  • Blue whale is on the IUCN endangered list and has lost as much as 90 percent of its population in the last three generations
  • The proportion of species that are threatened increases enormously as body size increases
  • The mass extinction 65 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs didn’t kill off bigger marine species at higher rates than smaller ones, unlike what’s happening now

Sept 16,2016: In the Earth’s oceans these days, the bigger a species is, the more prone it is to die off. That’s unheard of in the long history of mass extinctions, a new study finds.

As subfamilies of marine animal species — called genera — grow larger in body size, the likelihood of them being classified as threatened with extinction increases by an even greater amount, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Science. In past extinctions, smaller creatures were more prone to die off, or size didn’t matter, said study lead author Jonathan Payne, a paleobiologist at Stanford University.


Almost none of the genera that have species averaging 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) long are threatened with extinction. However, 23 percent of those that are 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) are threatened, 40 percent of those that are 39 inches (1 meter) are endangered and 86 percent of those that are 32.8 feet (10 meters) are vulnerable, Payne said.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

These are species that are not extinct yet, but are on the respected Red List of threatened and endangered species created by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

“The proportion of species that are threatened increases enormously as body size increases,” Payne said.

Take the blue whale, not only the largest living animal, stretching close to 100 feet long, but the largest to ever have existed, Payne said. It’s on the IUCN endangered list and has lost as much as 90 percent of its population in the last three generations, according to the IUCN.

FILE – A 70-foot female blue whale, that officials believe was struck by a ship, is seen washed ashore near Fort Bragg, California, Oct. 20, 2009. As subfamilies of marine animal species grow larger in body size, the likelihood of them being classified as threatened with extinction increases by an even greater amount, according to a study published Sept. 14, 2016. VOA

On the other end of the spectrum is a grouping of fish, bioluminescent bristlemouths, that are about three inches long. They are the most abundant creatures with a backbone; the population is estimated to be in the trillions.

Focus on oceans

Payne compared fossil records, looked at past mass extinctions and compared them to current threats, concentrating on 264 genera that have the best modern and ancient records. Payne concentrated on oceans, where the fossil records are better over time. The mass extinction 65 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs didn’t kill off bigger marine species at higher rates than smaller ones, unlike what’s happening now, Payne said.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

The study “shows us how unusual this crisis of biodiversity we have right now,” said Boris Worm, a top marine scientist at Dalhousie University in Canada. He wasn’t part of the study but praised it. “We have had mass extinctions before. This one is totally different than what has happened before.”

Worm spoke from a break during research in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, where after a more-than-20-year career he finally saw his first underwater right whale and basking shark.

“They are both in trouble and both among the largest of their kind,” Worm said.

Humans suspected

Payne’s study didn’t try to explain why larger animals were more threatened, but both he and Worm point to one main suspect: humans. Mostly through fishing and hunting, but also through environmental degradation such as warmer and more acidic oceans, humans have made it tougher for the biggest marine animals to survive, they said.

Catherine Novelli, the U.S. undersecretary of state for environment, said a world oceans conference that starts Thursday in Washington, will see the announcement of “many more” areas where nations set aside large areas of the seas where animals are protected and fishing is prohibited.

Duke University biologist Stuart Pimm also praised the study as both compelling and disturbing because “even if some species do hang on, we have massively changed the ecology of much of the oceans.”

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

Payne said there is still hope, since these species haven’t gone extinct yet. He points to northern elephant seals which had a population below 100 in the early 1910s, but are now more than 100,000 strong. But they are the exception.

“It pains you to the core to know that these animals might be gone in a generation or two,” Worm said. “You can’t imagine a world without them. It’s such an important and beautiful part of our planet.” (VOA)


Popular

IANS

Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India will set up a 50 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Odisha's Sambalpur

Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India will set up a 50 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Odisha's Sambalpur at a total cost of Rs 301.92 crore, moving steadily towards its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. MCL has placed a turnkey order to set-up a 50 MW solar power plant with a Chennai-based firm M/s Hild Energy Ltd, which will establish this green energy project within a timeline of 10 months, the MCL said in a statement on Saturday.

This solar plant would cater to the captive power requirement of MCL. The Central PSU had successfully set-up a 2MW solar power plant in Sambalpur in 2014. The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024 in order to become a net zero energy company, aligning itself to use cleaner forms of energy for coal production.

white and blue solar panel system The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024. | Photo by Mariana Proença on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less
IANS

As the nation celebrated the 114th birth anniversary of his father - renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan - megastar Amitabh Bachchan remembered his dad as he penned a heartfelt note for him.

As the nation celebrated the 114th birth anniversary of his father - renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan - megastar Amitabh Bachchan remembered his dad as he penned a heartfelt note for him. The actor took to his blog where he poured his heart out and also shared an unseen photo with his father. The image in question is from Big B's wedding in 1973, where the two are caught in a sweet moment as they look at each other.

Amitabh Bachchan wrote on his blog,

"My Father , my all .. November 27th his birth in the year 1907 .. Which makes it his 114th Anniversary .. He is in the heavens, with my Mother and they celebrate .. as do we , in thought word and deed .. (sic). But first."


Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Camille Brodard on Unsplash

With multiple brands coming up with new standards of vegan and sustainable beauty, many consumers are left confused and doubting the authenticity of these claims.

By Plabita Sharma

The World Vegan month of November usually brings with itself an increased amount of dialogue and searches about Vegan lifestyle, sustainable living and clean beauty. Before pondering any further, it is important to understand what the Vegan lifestyle is and how it goes beyond the concept of consuming a plant-based diet. Veganism essentially is a lifestyle that is driven by compassionate choices and an increased awareness of one's actions on the world. Thus motivated by the two, a vegan individual usually carefully curates their day-to-day practices in a manner that does little to no- harm to the planet, the people and all of its inhabitants.

Beauty as industry has time and again been scrutinised for its effects on the consumers and the ecosystem - this can be during the manufacturing process or the effect it has on the consumer's thought processes. Now, as the world moves towards adopting Global Sustainability Goals, committing to a world that works with the natural resources instead of against them - it is only fair for each individual to be curious about making the right choices to make their beauty bag as consciously curated as possible. With multiple brands coming up with new standards of vegan and sustainable beauty, many consumers are left confused and doubting the authenticity of these claims. So here is a quick guide that can help you make the right choices:

Vegan and cruelty free labels: Keeping true to the traditional meaning of Vegan - any vegan beauty product means that it is completely plant based and has no animal ingredients or any of their by-products like honey, beeswax, dairy product etc. Similarly, cruelty-free as a label means that the ingredients or the final product did not test on animals or harm any animals during the production process. One way to test the authenticity is to check if these products are legally certified by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), or verified by Vegan organisations as The Vegan Society and others. Cruelty-free and vegan products are also generally categorized by having cleaner and gentler formulas as they are mostly deprived of harsh chemicals and solvents.

woman peeking over green leaf plant taken at daytime Any vegan beauty product means that it is completely plant based and has no animal ingredients or any of their by-products like honey, beeswax, dairy product etc. | Photo by Drew Dizzy Graham on Unsplash

Keep reading... Show less