In this issue we ask, "Is extinction always a bad thing?" Scientists say there have been five "mass exinctions". Every time, the minority of species that survive benefit. The dinosaurs benefited from two mass extinctions before disappearing in a third.
But are humans now causing a sixth mass extinction, accelerating the rate of extinction for the plants and creatures we share a planet with? What can we do to help?
“We are the only species which, when it chooses to do so, will go to great effort to save what it might destroy.” Wallace Stegner 1909-1993, U.S. writer and conservationist
On your CD, you can here an expert on extinction from the Natural HIstory Museum in London. And this mini-site from the museum has lots of clear information about dinosaurs. Click on "About Dinosaurs" for an introduction and an explanation of the three extinction events they experienced. There’s a Dino A-Z, where you can find any dinosaur you want, or click to see the dinosaurs that lived where you live.
The Museum also organises the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition to encourage us to really appreciate the natural world around us.
This photo won the Young Wildlife Photographer award for Udayan Rao Pawar, 14, form India. It shows endangered gharial crocodiles. Only about 200 adult gharials survive.
You can see all the winning photos on the museum's site.
Choose the gallery link ., especially to the Young awards. Click on the pictures to see them
bigger and read the story behind the photo.
Tuna suffers because it is so popular, particularly as sushi. And when fishing boats catch these big fish they also destroy many other species. Learn more about the bluefin tuna and what you can do to help save it.
Hollywood actor Leonardo diCaprio is very interested in conservation. He often works with WWF and recently his Foundation donated $3 million to the WWF organisation Save the Tiger Now campaign.The money will help them try to double the number of wild tigers in Nepal by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.
An Amazing Survival Story
The Lord Howe Stick Insect, or phasmid, is typical of unique species that develop on islands. It is much bigger than other stick insects. It only existed on a small island between Australia and New Zealand. It had no predators until a ship had an accident in 1908 and rats arrived on the island.
Scientists believed the Lord Howe stick insect was extinct until 2003 when they found 30 of them on an isolated rock 23 km from Lord Howe Island. They took a couple to Melbourne Zoo and started breeding them. More than 9000 stick insects have been born at the zoo (like the one in the photo). Scientists think they have saved it from extinction.
The short film below tells the incredible survival story of a very rare insect.
Think Elephants International
This slideshow from the New York Times illustrates the experiment the New York school pupils participated in, understanding how elephants think.