The Sixth Mass Extinction
In the last 500 million years, there have been five mass extinctions, removing varying percentages of animal species. The last happened 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs became extinct. Biologist (including Michael Soulè and E. O. Wilson) have calculated that the current rate of extinctions is 100 to 10,000 times the background rate.
Niles Eldredge describes the Sixth Extinction as follows:
- Everywhere, shortly after modern humans arrived, many (especially, though by no means exclusively, the larger) native species typically became extinct. Humans were like bulls in a China shop:
- They disrupted ecosystems by overhunting game species, which never experienced contact with humans before.