Wagler, Ron Department of Teacher Education, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas.
Last reviewed:January 2021
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- Past large extinctions
- Major human activities causing the Anthropocene extinction
- Trends in species extinction related to the Anthropocene extinction
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
An ongoing current event in which a large number of living species are threatened with extinction or are going extinct because of environmentally destructive human activities. The Earth is presently in the midst of a mass extinction event. In the past, there have been five other similar large extinctions. Because of this, the current Anthropocene extinction is often referred to as the sixth extinction or the sixth great mass extinction; another term is the Holocene extinction because this event is taking place in the current Holocene Epoch, which covers the last 10,000 years of the Earth's history. However, as the present-day extinction event is anthropogenic (that is, related to or resulting from the influence of humans on nature), the favored term is Anthropocene extinction. This article presents an overview of the five previous large extinctions, the major human activities causing the Anthropocene extinction, and the trends in species extinction related to this present-day extinction event (see illustration). See also: Biodiversity; Endangered species; Extinction; Holocene; Mass extinctions; Paleobiodiversity; Paleoecology; Species concept
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