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May 27, 2020 - BBC News

Billions of years of evolutionary history under threat

Billions of years of evolutionary history under threat
Shoebill birdFile Photo / © Photabulous!

Scientists say more than 50 billion years of cumulative evolutionary history could be lost as humans push wildlife to the brink.

"Weird and wonderful" animals unlike anything else on Earth are sliding silently toward extinction, they say. And regions home to the greatest amounts of unique biodiversity are facing unprecedented human pressures. They include the Caribbean, Western Ghats of India and large parts of Southeast Asia.

The study, published in Nature Communications, highlights priority species for conservation, based on their evolutionary distinctiveness. "These species are weird and wonderful and there is nothing like them on Earth," said Rikki Gumbs of ZSL's EDGE of Existence programme and Imperial College London.

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