Earth is entering "new extinction phase", finds study

 
Ashley Kirk
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The giant panda is one of the most high-profile endangered animals in the world (Source: Getty)

The Earth is facing a new period of extinction and humans could be among the first casualties, according to a new study by three American universities.

Vertebrates are disappearing at a rate 114 times faster than normal, according to the work by academics at the universities of Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley.

The report said Earth is entering the sixth great mass extinction event. Its lead author, Gerardo Ceballos, said: "If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover and our species itself would likely disappear early on".

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Since 1900, the report says, more than 400 vertebrates have become extinct.

This has led to a further 41 per cent of all amphibians and 25 per cent of mammals being threatened with extinction.

With the destruction of ecosystems, the report warns that benefits such as pollination by bees could be lost within three human generations.

Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich said:

There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead.

We are sawing off the limb that we are sitting on.

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