‘Sixth extinction’ recovery will take millions of years

The Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) is among the North American mammals on the endangered species list. ©Thomas

It will take millions of years to recover mammal diversity lost in “the current biodiversity crisis,” researchers concluded in a newly-published paper. In the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that the sixth mass extinction of species, ongoing since the Pleistocene, has “erased over 300 mammal species, and with them, more than 2.5 billion years of unique evolutionary history.” The team found that this lost phylogenetic diversity can only be restored with new evolutionary history. Even if current extinctions slowed to previous rates, they concluded, “recovery of lost PD will likely take millions of years.”

Read their study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences here.