species extinction

Thought to be extinct – when science is wrong

Species extinction is a natural phenomenon, but sometimes, as Mark Twain wrote: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” The Endangered Species Act has been used for good to help some species and for political reasons to stop or inhibit mines, logging, farming, and many other activities. Below is a collection of articles which show that some reports of extinction were in error. Sometimes, “settled science” is wrong. (Note, most links have photos.)

Long-lost Tasmanian tiger may have been found

September 6, 2017

Do Tasmanian tigers still exist? A few trackers believe they have found evidence — releasing alleged footage of proof. The grainy and fleeting videotape, according to The Mercury, showed Tasmanian tigers (also known as thylacines) in their natural state: a thylacine walking slowly at a distance, a thylacine nose at the camera lens, and a thylacine with a cub.

Official accounts, according to The Mercury, suggest the thylacine became extinct on the Australian mainland more than 2000 years ago, although unverified “sightings” occur across many states of Australia from time to time. (Read more)

Boy finds ‘extinct’ frog in Ecuador and helps revive species

July 7, 2017

A school-age boy has rediscovered an Ecuadorian frog considered extinct for at least 30 years. The animal has now successfully bred in captivity.

The colourful Jambato harlequin frog (Atelopus ignescens) was once so widespread in Ecuador that it turned up in people’s homes, was something children played with and was used as an ingredient in traditional medicine. Then it was suddenly wiped out, probably by a combination of climate change and fungal disease. (Read more)

Frog not sighted in 30 years and declared extinct reappears in Costa Rica

June 07, 2017

SAN JOSE – Costa Rican scientists reported the reappearance of an endemic frog species that had not been sighted for three decades (Heredia robber frog, Craugastor escoces.) It was declared extinct in 2004 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (UICN). (Read more)

Seychelles snail, believed extinct due to climate change, found ‘alive and well,’ says group

Sep 8, 2014, NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A snail once thought to have been among the first species to go extinct because

of climate change has reappeared in the wild. The Aldabra banded snail, declared extinct seven years ago, was rediscovered on Aug. 23 in the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles. The mollusk, which is endemic to the Aldabra coral atoll — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — had not been seen on the islands since 1997, said the Seychelles Islands Foundation. Read more And here

‘Extinct’ corpse-eating fly back from the dead

July 9, 2013

Behold the bone-skipper, high in the running for the strangest fly on Earth. For the bone-skipper, fresh carcasses just won’t do. No, these flies prefer large, dead bodies in advanced stages of decay. And unlike most flies, they are active in early winter, from November to January, usually after dark. They also disappeared from human notice and were declared extinct for more than a century. That’s why they’ve often been considered almost mythical or legendary, said Pierfilippo Cerretti, a researcher at the Sapienza University of Rome. In the past few years, three species of bone-skipper have been rediscovered in Europe, setting off a buzz among fly aficionados. (Read more)

Biologists find rare snake near Gila River

July 6, 2013

The northern Mexican garter snake was once thought to be extinct in New Mexico. Not so, according to biologists at the Albuquerque BioPark. They found three of the snakes in early June near the Gila River and another three later in the month. Two of the snakes were studied, tagged and released. The remaining four were brought to the Albuquerque Zoo to establish a breeding population.(Read more)

An ‘extinct’ frog make s a comeback in Israel

Jerusalem, June 4, 2013 — The first amphibian to have been officially declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been rediscovered in the north of Israel after some 60 years and turns out to be a unique “living fossil,” without close relatives among other living frogs.

The Hula painted frog was catalogued within the Discoglossus group when it was first discovered in the Hula Valley of Israel in the early 1940s. The frog was thought to have disappeared following the drying up of the Hula Lake at the end of the 1950s, and was declared extinct by the IUCN in 1996. As a result, the opportunity to discover more about this species’ history, biology and ecology was thought to have disappeared. (Read more)

Cute rodent species surfaces after 113 years

May 19, 2011

Scientists thought a mysterious guinea pig-sized rodent species that hadn’t been seen in 113 years was long extinct. Until one of them ambled up to two volunteer naturalists at a nature reserve in Colombia two weeks ago. The nocturnal animal, the elusive red-crested tree rat, turned up just as the scientists were heading off to bed, at 9:30 p.m. on May 4. It spent two hours watching as the volunteer biologists took photos of it, the n calmly ambled off into the darkness. (Read more)

India team uncovers 12 frog species

Sep 18, 2011, New Delhi – Years of combing tropical mountain forests, shining flashlights under rocks and listening for croaks in the night have paid off for Indian scientists who have discovered 12 new frog species plus three others thought to have been extinct. (Read more)

Pygmy tarsier, a tiny primate, rediscovered in Indonesia

November 19, 2008

The tiny Furby-like pygmy tarsier, presumed to be extinct, was found during a recent expedition to Indonesia. And the cuddly, huge-eyed nocturnal critter is the very definition of cute. Gursky-Doyen of Texas A&M

University traveled into the mountains of Sulawesi Island in Indonesia to confirm that the pygmy tarsier was unequivocally extinct, but ended up becoming the first person in more than 80 years to spot a live one. (Read more)

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Rediscovered in Arkansas

April 28, 2005

A group of wildlife scientists believe the ivory-billed woodpecker is not extinct. They say they have made seven firm sightings of the bird in central Arkansas. The landmark find caps a search that began more than 60 years ago, after biologists said North America’s largest woodpecker had become extinct in the United States. (Read more) Note: this contention is still controversial – see here.

Coelacanths fish

Coelacanths (seel-a-canths) were once known only from fossils and were thought to have gone extinct approximately 65 million years ago (mya), during the great extinction in which the dinosaurs disappeared. Today, there are two known living species.

The first living coelacanth was discovered in 1938. For many years, living coelacanths were known only from the western Indian Ocean, primarily from the Comoros Islands, but in September 1997 and again in July 1998, coelacanths were captured in northern Sulawesi, Indonesia, nearly 6,000 miles to the east of the Comoros. Read more

The moral of this story is that even “settled science” can be wrong. A good scientist should always be skeptical.

 

Related: For the past several years alarmist scientists have claimed that humans are causing “the sixth mass extinction” on Earth. Smithsonian paleontologist Doug Erwin debunks this claim in the article: “Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction.”

Erwin is one of the world’s experts on the End-Permian mass extinction, an unthinkable volcanic nightmare that nearly ended life on earth 252 million years ago. He proposed that earth’s great mass extinctions might unfold like these power grid failures: most of the losses may come, not from the initial shock—software glitches in the case of power grid failures, and asteroids and volcanoes in the case of ancient mass extinctions—but from the secondary cascade of failures that follow. These are devastating chain reactions that no one understands.

 

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Climate Change and Biodiversity

Climate alarmists have claimed that global warming will cause massive species extinctions. The geologic record shows the opposite. As “climate change” itself loses traction, green extremists are switching to “biodiversity” as the next bogeyman. The U.N. is launching its “International Year of Biodiversity.” But the current wildlife extinction rate is the lowest in 500 years according to the UN’s own World Atlas of Biodiversity. Environmental groups are beginning to use the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as an excuse to control carbon dioxide emissions. Perhaps the first species to be listed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) on speculation of the effects of global warming is the polar bear.

On May 14, 2008, FWS listed the polar bear as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), based on the supposition that carbon dioxide emissions are melting the bear’s Arctic habitat.

In 2007, just prior to listing, the Arctic sea ice reached the lowest level recorded since 1979 when satellites began tracking the ice. However, that same year, Antarctic sea ice reached the maximum extent ever recorded. Did you hear about that?

The Department of the Interior press release on the polar bear claimed, “The listing is based on the best available science, which shows that loss of sea ice threatens and will likely continue to threaten polar bear habitat. This loss of habitat puts polar bears at risk of becoming endangered in the foreseeable future, the standard established by the ESA for designating a threatened species.” Really? Environmental groups are suing to force FWS to upgrade the listing to “endangered.”

The FWS listing is based on computer projections and false assumptions. An article in Science Daily claims, “Federal Polar Bear Research Critically Flawed…” People who live in the Arctic know that polar bear populations have been increasing, mainly due to changes in hunting regulations. Native Inuit hunters say that “The growing population has become ‘a real problem,’especially over the last 10 years.”

The polar bear has been around for a very long time and somehow survived conditions that were warmer than now and warmer than computer projections. It is also telling that the Canadian government, which oversees 14 of the 19 polar bear populations, has not listed the bear as “threatened” or “endangered.” The Alaska Department of Fish & Game opposed the listing claiming that FWS did not use the best available science and that FWS cherry-picked models, choosing only those which supported their case. Alaska fish & game says that polar bear populations “are abundant, stable, and unthreatened by direct human activity.”

FWS has a Climate Change Strategic Plan which is based largely on reports from the now discredited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (See my posts The Assumed Authority, and IPCC and Peer Review.)

 Real, on the ground, research into the relationship between global warming, species extinction, and biodiversity paints a picture very different from the speculative computer models. Abundant research shows that warming increases the range for most terrestrial plants and animals, and for most marine creatures. Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere makes plants more water efficient and more robust. For an introduction to this research seehttp://www.co2science.org/images/pdf/extinction.pdf “The Specter of Species Extinction, Will Global Warming Decimate Earth’s Biosphere?” That report concludes:

The CO2-induced global warming extinction hypothesis claims that as the world warms in response to the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content, many species of plants and animals will not be able to migrate either poleward in latitude or upward in elevation fast enough to avoid extinction as they try to escape the stress imposed by the rising temperature. With respect to plants, however, we have shown that as long as the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration rises in tandem with its temperature, most of them will not “feel the heat,” as their physiology will change in ways that make them better adapted to warmer conditions. Hence, although earth’s plants will likely spread poleward and upward at the cold-limited boundaries of their ranges in response to a warming-induced opportunity to do so, their heat-limited boundaries will probably remain pretty much as they are now or shift only slightly. Consequently, in a world of rising atmospheric CO2 concentration, the ranges of most of earth’s plants will likely expand if the planet continues to warm, making plant extinctions even less likely than they are currently.

Animals should react much the same way. In response to concurrent increases in atmospheric temperature and CO2 concentration, they will likely migrate poleward and upward, where cold temperatures prevented them from going in the past, as they follow earth’s plants. Also as with earth’s plants, the heat-limited boundaries of their ranges should in many cases be little affected, as has been observed in several of the real-world studies that have been wrongly cited as providing evidence for impending species extinctions, or their entire ranges may simply shift with the rising temperature, as has been observed in many real-world studies of marine ecosystems.

To summarize, both theory and observation paint the same picture. A goodly portion of earth’s plants and animals should actually expand their ranges and gain a stronger foothold on the planet as the atmosphere’s temperature and CO2 concentration continue to rise. If the air’s CO2 content were suddenly to stop increasing, however, the biosphere could find itself facing a significant challenge, as the world’s plants would cease acquiring the extra physiological protection against heat stress that is afforded them by rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Consequently, the end result of curtailing anthropogenic CO2 emissions might well be just the opposite of what many people are hoping to accomplish by encouraging that policy, i.e., many species might actually be driven to extinction, rather than being saved from such a fate.

For even more information, go to www.CO2Science.org and look in their subject index under “extinction.” There you will find reviews of the scientific literature based on real world observations. This research, as well as geologic history, show that a warmer world increases biodiversity. Habitat destruction from other causes is a separate issue.

Looking at the greater geologic record, we see that major extinctions are associated with ice ages and other cooling events. After each ice age, as the planet warmed, life rebounded with more speciation and greater biodiversity. The geologic record also shows that the “normal” temperature of this planet (when we are not in an ice age, or an interglacial period of an ice age) is about 18 degrees F warmer than now (see chart in this post). Even in our current interglacial period, warm cycles have been up to 10 degrees F warmer than now and we have not seen massive extinctions. (The megafauna extinction of about 10,000 years ago was associated with a rapid cooling period, the Younger Dryas.) The hot and steamy Cretaceous Period saw the development of flowering plants and a great increase in biodiversity.

It seems that the Fish & Wildlife Service is following a political agenda based on junk science.

(For another example of FWS junk science see, Jaguar Listing and Habitat Designation Based on Junk Science)