Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?

  title={Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?},
  author={Anthony D Barnosky and Nicholas J. Matzke and Susumu Tomiya and Guinevere O U Wogan and Brian Swartz and Tiago Bosisio Quental and Charles R. Marshall and Jenny L. McGuire and Emily L. Lindsey and Kaitlin C. Maguire and Benjamin D. Mersey and Elizabeth Anne Ferrer},
Palaeontologists characterize mass extinctions as times when the Earth loses more than three-quarters of its species in a geologically short interval, as has happened only five times in the past 540 million years or so. Biologists now suggest that a sixth mass extinction may be under way, given the known species losses over the past few centuries and millennia. Here we review how differences between fossil and modern data and the addition of recently available palaeontological information… 
Earth's Sixth Mass Extinction Event
Current extinction rate in European freshwater gastropods greatly exceeds that of the late Cretaceous mass extinction
The Cretaceous–Paleogene mass extinction event 66 million years ago eradicated three quarters of marine and terrestrial species globally. However, previous studies based on vertebrates suggest that
Could a potential Anthropocene mass extinction define a new geological period?
A key aspect of the current debate about the Anthropocene focuses on defining a new geological epoch. Features of the Anthropocene include a biodiversity crisis with the potential to reach ‘mass
Rarity in mass extinctions and the future of ecosystems
It is shown that the rarity of previously abundant taxa may be more important than extinction in the cascade of events leading to global changes in the biosphere, which may provide the most robust measure of the current biodiversity crisis relative to those past.
The fossil record of the sixth extinction.
It is demonstrated that only a small and biased fraction of threatened species (< 9%) have a fossil record, compared with 20% of non-threatened species and strong taphonomic biases related to body size and geographic range are found.
Towards quantifying the mass extinction debt of the Anthropocene
  • C. Spalding, P. Hull
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B
  • 2021
The ultimate number of species destined for extinction today can be predicted by way of a quantitative appraisal of humanity's modification of ecosystems as recorded in sediments—that is, by comparing the authors' future rock record with that of the past.
Rapid acceleration of plant speciation during the Anthropocene.
  • C. Thomas
  • Environmental Science, Biology
    Trends in ecology & evolution
  • 2015
Extinctions in ancient and modern seas.
Quaternary Extinctions and Their Link to Climate Change
Millennia before the modern biodiversity crisis—a worldwide event being driven by the multiple impacts of anthropogenic global change—a mass extinction of large-bodied fauna occurred. After a million
Exceptional continental record of biotic recovery after the Cretaceous–Paleogene mass extinction
A time-calibrated stratigraphic section in Colorado is reported that contains unusually complete fossils of mammals, reptiles, and plants and elucidates the drivers and tempo of biotic recovery during the poorly known first million years after the Cretaceous–Paleogene mass extinction.


Extinctions in the fossil record
Approaches to extinction analysis and prediction based on morphological variety or biodisparity should be explored as an adjunct or alternative to taxon inventories or phylogenetic metrics.
Late Quaternary Extinctions: State of the Debate
Results from recent studies suggest that humans precipitated extinction in many parts of the globe through combined direct (hunting) and perhaps indirect (competition, habitat alteration) impacts, but that the timing and geography of extinction might have been different and the worldwide magnitude less, had not climatic change coincided with human impacts in many places.
Quantifying the Extent of North American Mammal Extinction Relative to the Pre-Anthropogenic Baseline
This work shows that shortly after humans first arrived in North America, mammalian diversity dropped to become at least 15%–42% too low compared to the “normal” diversity baseline that had existed for millions of years, while the Holocene reduction in North American mammal diversity has long been recognized qualitatively, providing a quantitative measure that clarifies how significant the diversity reduction actually was.
Mass Extinctions in the Marine Fossil Record
A new compilation of fossil data on invertebrate and vertebrate families indicates that four mass extinctions in the marine realm are statistically distinct from background extinction levels. These
Dynamics of origination and extinction in the marine fossil record
  • J. Alroy
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2008
The discipline-wide effort to database the fossil record at the occurrence level has made it possible to estimate marine invertebrate extinction and origination rates with much greater accuracy. The
The Future of Biodiversity
Estimates of future extinctions are hampered by the authors' limited knowledge of which areas are rich in endemics, and regions rich in species found only within them (endemics) dominate the global patterns of extinction.
Small mammal diversity loss in response to late-Pleistocene climatic change
It is shown that across future landscapes there will be some unanticipated effects of global change on diversity: restructuring of small mammal communities, significant loss of richness, and perhaps the rising dominance of native ‘weedy’ species.
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The statement that approximately 1.3% of the approximately 10,000 presently known bird species have become extinct since A.D. 1500 is qualified and a 21st century rate of approximately 1,000 E/MSY is predicted, which is higher than the benchmark rate before human impacts but is a serious underestimate.
Synchronous extinction of North America's Pleistocene mammals
The extinction chronology of North American Pleistocene mammals can be characterized as a synchronous event that took place 12,000–10,000 radiocarbon years B.P.