American and French scientists have found convincing evidence that the sixth mass extinction of global biodiversity is taking place on Earth.

There have been five mass extinctions in Earth’s history caused by extreme natural events. According to expert assessment, the planet is now in the process of the sixth crisis. But this one is caused by human activity, and not by cataclysms of natural origin. A comprehensive assessment of the evidence for the ongoing extinction was recently published in the journal Biological Reviews by scientists from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France.

“Dramatic increases in species extinction rates and declines in many animal and plant populations are well documented, yet some deny that these phenomena amount to mass extinction,” explains Robert Cowie, lead author of the study and research professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. As the scientist explains, the problem is a biased view of the extinction process itself, which focuses on mammals and birds, but ignores invertebrates. But they make up the vast majority of biodiversity.

Extrapolating estimates from land snails and slugs, Cowie et al calculated that since 1500, the Earth could already have lost between 7.5% and 13% of the 2 million known species on Earth. In total, it is from 150,000 to 260,000 species. “The inclusion of invertebrates was key to confirming that we are indeed witnessing the onset of the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history,” the scientist notes.

However, the situation is not the same everywhere. The study showed that the crisis affects the oceans and land to varying degrees. At the same time, island species suffer much more than continental ones. Also, the extinction rate of plants seems to be lower than that of terrestrial animals.