Extinction

Posted by & filed under Landscaping with Native Plants, Natural Landscaping.

We went to see the latest Star Wars episode “The Last Jedi” over the Christmas holiday and it brought to mind an article I had read recently about the discovery of the fossil of a horseshoe crab which became extinct 245 million years ago. The fossil, discovered in Idaho, has been named Vaderlimulus after Star Wars’ Darth Vader — because its head shield has a shape similar to Darth Vader’s helmet.

Drawing of Vaderlimulus, a horseshoe crab fossil named after Darth Vader. Image provided by New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

Drawing of Vaderlimulus, a horseshoe crab fossil named after Darth Vader. Image provided by New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

“…There are only four species of horseshoe crabs alive today, and their populations are decreasing. They are not true crabs but are more closely related to scorpions and spiders. Modern horseshoe crabs are often considered ‘living fossils’ due to having shown little apparent change in physical appearance over a vast period of geologic time.” (New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science)

Extinction on a Fast Track

A study released by the Zoological Society of London and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) this past fall stated that “the number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall two-thirds by 2020. Animal populations plummeted by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67 per cent over the next three years.” (The Telegraph) WWF further states that experts expect between 0.01 and 0.1% of all species to become extinct each year. (WWF)

Plants are boring in comparison to most animals, so I wasn’t able to find a current study on plants extinction. I did find several The Guardian articles which stated that we are in jeopardy of loosing a fifth of our plant species, but they also said that over 2,000 new species of plants are discovered every year. We know plants are an integral part of the food chain, so common sense tells us loss of plants has to play a part in the the extinction of animals also.

Why is this happening?

Why is this happening? Because of the disruption of plant and animal ecosystems caused by the use of pesticides, urban sprawl, greenhouse gases and greed, and because of global warming and its effect on climate change, landscape alteration, species invasions and carbon dioxide build-up. (The Guardian)

What can we do about it?

If you haven’t already, join Wild Ones. It won’t help with all the Earth’s problems, but it’ll help with some. If you’re not already, become a conscientious landscaper, use native plants, limit the use of pesticides, don’t waste potable water, plant native trees to help reduce carbon dioxide, stop using greenhouse gas emitting equipment, eradicate invasive species, and use common sense and a prudent approach to the way you live on this Earth. And while you’re at it, talk to friends and family about doing the same.

See also Green Landscaping: Greenacres

Thank you Eleanor Irnster of EarthSky for making me aware of the discovery of this new fossil.

Author:

The above article was written by Donna VanBuecken, Accent on Natural Landscaping, Inc. and former Wild Ones Executive Director.

 

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