The Recently Extinct Plants and Animals Database cubit
|Welcome to the Recently Extinct Plants and Animals Database (REPAD)|
Planet Earth is currently in the middle of an extinction crisis, largely due to the actions of humans. Since the exodus of our species out of Africa some 80,000-100,000 years ago we have colonized and conquered, cleared and claimed every inhabitable piece of land on the planet. We have plundered and pillaged nature driving countless species extinct at a rate so great that scientists fear we have induced a "sixth mass extinction" of species; the first since the demise of the dinosaurs at the K/T boundary extinction event which was most likely caused by an asteroid plunging into the Yucatan Peninsula some 65.5 million years ago. We have exerted so much pressure on nature that the consequences of our actions will probably not be known for decades.
Given humanity's increasingly positive conservation record over the last several decades, with many successful captive breeding programs established, many members of the public have become complacent, believing that the extinction of species is no longer a 'problem': even if we do drive more species extinct, it is widely believed that we can simply bring them back to life through cloning. However, this is a terribly uninformed and above all very dangerous view to have since the complications of cloning are many and varied. It is not known for certain that we will be able to successfully clone any extinct species, and successfully reintroduce them to the wild. Let alone the vast majority of known extinction events over the past several centuries. Having enough genetic material is also a problem given that many recently extinct species are only known from one or a few badly degraded museum specimens. Claims that we may only be 5 years away from cloning the woolly mammoth must be looked upon with extreme scepticism. 'Real' scientists do not make such bold statements, especially when the weight of probability is against them. People's faith in science with be severely damaged, and the reputation of science itself tarnished, if and when this and other predictions of its kind are not fulfilled as is expected.
Prevention is better than cure, especially when it is not known for certain that we could ever invent a 'cure' for the current biodiversity crisis. Ecosystems require such a delicate balance that even reintroducing species which once occurred in a particular region may have adverse effects, as the ecosystem had started to adapt to the absence of their presence. Without complete knowledge of how ecosystems are regulated through the many factors which they are, it will be an enormous task, and an especially risky one, to try to simply reverse the sixth mass extinction by reintroducing species en masse. We need a much deeper understanding of nature before we could ever embark on such an audacious plan.
More than 4,000 of the world's species and subspecies are "missing". That is, there are no known, locatable populations or even individuals of these taxa, and they are therefore possibly extinct. This database, by far the largest of its kind, is dedicated to attempting to document all such missing species which are believed to have survived until less than 100,000 years ago. It is the intention of the chief compiler of this database to include all taxa which fulfil these two criteria in the next few years. However due to its very nature this database will always remain incomplete. The status of many of the world's species is simply unknown, either because of their cryptic nature or their low population densities. There is no simple way of telling whether a species is extinct or not.
The database currently has 3241 entries, and can be accessed here.
9/5/2013 A new species of subfossil Scops owl, Otus frutuosoi, was described in today's edition of Zootaxa.
1/5/2013 Several species of the moss genus Sphagnum have been rediscovered in Turkey after more than 100 years.
27/4/2013 Five rare Florida butterflies may be gone, some of which may now be globally extinct (source).
10/4/2013 The 2007 rediscovery of the frog Plectrohyla thorectes was reported in the literature today.
10/4/2013 The rediscovery of the African bat Glauconycteris superba (in February 2012) has been reported in the literature.
31/3/2013 The rediscovery of the catfish Listrura camposi was published in the latest issue of Neotropical Ichthyology.
31/3/2013 The copper striped blue-tailed skink (Emoia impar) has been declared officially extinct on the Hawaiian Islands, although it still persists elsewhere in the Pacific.
26/3/2013 The rediscovery of the palpigrade arachnid Eukoenenia draco draco (Peyerimhoff, 1906) has been reported in the literature.
25/3/2013 The rediscovery of the water beetle Sebasthetops omaliniformis has been reported in the literature.
14/3/2013 The Waterberg copper (Erikssonia edgei) has been rediscovered.
5/3/2013 The Sri Lankan frog Pseudophilautus stellatus has been rediscovered after an absence of 156 years.
1/3/2013 The rediscovery of Cancellaria corrosa has been reported in the scientific literature.
7/2/2013 Bartram's Painted Vulture, a mysterious bird only known from 2 pre-1800 reports, may be a valid species after all according to a new paper published in Zootaxa.
1/2/2013 The rediscovery of Darevskia steineri has been reported in the literature. previously it was only known from the holotype.
24/1/2013 According to a new paper published in Journal of Animal Ecology today disease was not a required factor in the thylacine's extinction.
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List of local rediscoveries|
By Branden Holmes on March 2, 2013
Taxa are not only globally rediscovered, but also sometimes local rediscoveries are made whereby local extinction is found not to have been the case as was previously thought. Such a list of local rediscoveries seems never to have been attempted before. So I thought that I would attempt to fill that scientific niche with this article.
Possibly extinct butterflies and moths|
By Branden Holmes on August 19, 2012
The following list contains the scientific names of 152 possibly extinct species and subspecies of recent butterflies and moths. This includes several taxa not currently listed in the database. I stress that each of these species and subspecies, if taxonomically valid, are "missing" and therefore potentially extinct. This does not mean that they are definitely extinct, although several clearly are because extensive surveys throughout all known habitat has not found a single individual.
Explaining REPAD's Conservation Status Categories|
By Branden Holmes on August 12, 2012
One of the planned future features of REPAD will be our own unique status categories. However this system will not be implemented until basically all potentially recently extinct species have been entered into the database. This itself is a significant task and I have not yet entered a single recently extinct plant into the database. This article is therefore more to test the waters regards the appropriateness of our own idiosyncratic status categories, and to receive feedback from visitors to the database regards any possible improvements which could be made before implementing this system.