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Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Asteroid is Us

Extinct Marine Trilobites   (Moussa Direct Ltd. Image)
Although many think “We Are the World,” we are more "the Asteroid" when it comes to mass extinctions.

Chris Mooney of The Washington Post reports
that Planet Earth “is barreling towards what has been called a ‘sixth mass extinction’ event.”  In this case the cause is us, rather than a hotshot asteroid.

When it comes to killing, asteroids are a lot less selective than humans.  Whereas asteroids kill all in their path, people tend to begin with the largest creatures first.  Sharks and whales are therefore in greater jeopardy than seahorses
and starfish.

This “bigger is better” bias has also culled huge land animals from the face of the earth.  It’s a primary reason why mastodons are now only found in museums.  The same can be said for saber- tooth cats and mammoths.

Since the culling of marine creatures got off to a slower evolutionary start than that of land creatures, current ocean losses “are paralleling what humans did to land animals some 50,000 to 100,000 years ago.”  With top-of-the-food-chain predators rapidly disappearing, the entire ecosystem could be disrupted for millions of years to come.


Copyright September 15, 2016 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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