It’s frightening but true: Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at up to 1,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century.
Imagine when humans become extinct
The Red Deer Cave people were the most recent known prehistoric archaic human population. Fossils dated to the Bølling-Allerød warming, between about 14,500 to c. 11,500 years ago, were found in Red Deer Cave (Maludong) and Longlin Cave in Southwest China.
The fossils exhibit a mix of archaic and modern features and are tentatively thought to represent a late survival of an archaic human species, or of a hybrid population of Denisovan hominin and modern human descent, or alternatively just “robust early modern humans, probably with affinities to modern Melanesians“.
Evidence shows large deer were cooked in the Red Deer Cave, giving the people their name.
Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct. Many of them perished in five cataclysmic events. According to a recent poll, seven out of ten biologists think we are currently in the throes of a sixth mass extinction. I sometimes wonder when we, ‘Homo Sapiens’, will become extinct, in our turn.