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Recently, China’s white dolphin was declared functionally extinct; it looks as though we’ll never see another ivory-billed woodpecker; and the administration has now proposed listing polar bears as threatened. 16,000 species are currently identified as facing extinction. This cribsheet covers some basics of extinction: How it happens, what it does to surviving species, and how it helps new species evolve. In addition, we tell you where extinction is happening and where it will soon occur, when major extinctions hit, and what role we’re playing in the extinction of other species.

Download the Crib Sheet

Information design by Cybu Richli, Switzerland,; Writer: Jason Stevenson; Consultants: Andrew Knoll, Fisher Professor of Natural History at Harvard University; Map Data: M Cardillo et al. (2006) “Latent extinction risk and the future battlegrounds of mammal conservation.” PNAS 103:4157-4161. Graph Data: Raup DM, Sepkoski JJ (1982) “Mass extinctions in the marine fossil record.” Science 215:1501-1503. Soundbite Source: CD Thomas et al. (2004) “Extinction risk from climate change.” Nature 427:145-148.


Originally published January 10, 2007


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