gizmodo: “Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island tortoises, died in 2012. George’s story is the perfect extinction story. It features a charismatic character with a recognizable face, an obvious villain, and the tireless efforts of naturalists. The population of the Pinta Island tortoise species was decimated by whalers hunting and eating them during the 19th century. Zoologist József Vágvölgyi discovered George in 1971 and brought him into captivity. No other Pinta Island Tortoises have since been found. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared the species extinct in the wild in 1996, while researchers attempted to breed George with other tortoises to at least preserve his genetic material. But George died—of natural causes—sparking news stories about his life and legacy, which media outlets continue to cover to this day. But George’s story is not a typical story. Perhaps a better mascot of the extinction crisis is Plectostoma sciaphilum; a small snail, called a “microjewel” for its beautiful, intricate shell, that inhabited a single limestone hill in Malaysia. During the 2000s, a cement company wiped the hill off the map for its valuable resources, rendering the “microjewel” snail extinct.
Scientists estimate that species are going extinct 1,000 times faster than they should be, and “literally dozens” go extinct each day. But these estimates aren’t made from stories about big, rare zoo attractions; most of those victims are likely invertebrates, plants, and other beings you may not think much about. Even figuring out the actual extent of the biodiversity crisis is difficult, given how hard it is to estimate what we don’t know. Earth might be home to anywhere from 5 million to 10 million species, or perhaps a trillion, according to disparate estimates, of which researchers have catalogued less than 2 million. The IUCN’s Red List names only a thousand extinct or extinct-in-the-wild species—but one paper estimated that 7 percent of the known extant species might be extinct, if you include estimates of invertebrate extinctions….we’ve compiled a list of the species that the IUCN declared extinct in the past decade (it does not include species still around but declared extinct in the wild). The list is contains only 160 species, many of which were last seen many years ago or only discovered recently…”