© Eric R. Pianka
"The diversity of organisms is good, and the
untimely extinction of populations and species is bad.
Other species have intrinsic value in themselves that should
motivate respect and restraint in our dealings with them" -- Michael Soule
"Most evolving lineages, human or otherwise, when threatened with extinction,
don't do anything special to avoid it" -- George C. Williams
A more recent wave of extinctions followed human colonization of many islands, including the Caribbean and Galapagos Archipelagos, Indian Ocean islands, Hawaii and other Pacific islands, Madagascar, islands of the Mediterranean, and New Zealand. Many flightless island birds, including dodos and moas, went extinct (Steadman 2006), as did other island endemics such as land tortoises. Of course, little evidence is available for how people might have affected smaller species such as most lizards, but at least one gigantic Australian monitor lizard is known to have gone extinct during the Pleistocene following human colonization.
Several major episodes of extinction stand out in the fossil record. These events are so striking that they are used to mark the boundaries between geological periods, eras and epochs. A potentially greater anthropogenic extinction event is currently underway.
Humans are rapidly driving many other species extinct, so many that the anthropogenic Holocene extinction event has been named the Sixth Extinction (Kolbert 2014).
Last updated 4 September 2014 by Eric R. Pianka