Friday, 13 November 2015

Six species we thought were extinct, but aren’t

These are termed 'Lazarus' species, after the biblical story in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead

Sunday 8 November 2015

There have been five mass extinction events, the most famous of which was the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. However, there is evidence that we are currently experiencing a sixth. This time, however, the extinctions are happening at a much faster rate – and they are mainly due to us.

Unfortunately, many species just cannot adapt fast enough to our changing environment, be it global warming, habitat destruction or the impact of introduced species. Sadly, some of them suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs and vanish forever.

It is extremely difficult to determine whether a species is extinct, or just absent from an area – but you do only need one specimen to prove that a species is still with us. Fortuitously, there have been several instances of species that were thought to be extinct (sometimes for millions of years) being rediscovered. These are termed “Lazarus” species, after the biblical story in which Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.

Over 100 species have been rediscovered in this way, but here are six of the most interesting:


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