Study: Earth may be facing mass extinction

Aug. 13, 2008 at 10:41 AM
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BERKELEY, Calif., Aug. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. biologists say devastating declines of amphibian species around the world are a sign the Earth might be facing a new mass extinction.

The researchers from the University of California-Berkeley said that biodiversity disaster caused by a virulent fungus is larger than just frogs, salamanders and their ilk.

"There's no question that we are in a mass extinction spasm right now," said Professor of integrative biology David Wake. "Amphibians have been around for about 250 million years. They made it through when the dinosaurs didn't. The fact that they're cutting out now should be a lesson for us."

The fungus that's been killing amphibians around the world has been called the most devastating wildlife disease ever recorded, Wake said.

The study was co-authored by Wake and Assistant Professor Vance Vredenburg, a research associate at the university's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and an assistant professor at San Francisco State University. It is available online in the Journal of the National Academy of Sciences and will appear in a special print supplement to the journal.

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