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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

11 Animal Species About to Go Extinct

Anna M. just sent this my way and asked me to post, and I am much obliged - MA

To see the whole list go to:

Some endangered species get all the attention. Polar bears, pandas, and Siberian tigers are hotshots in mainstream conservation campaigns and are featured in various commercials, complete with melodramatic music and emotional appeals. But there are many animal species that are just as close or closer to extinction than these select few. And many of them are equally cute. The following animals are all considered to be critically endangered and could disappear within our lifetimes.

Golden-Mantled Tree Kangaroo Less famous than its ground-dwelling, boxing relatives, the golden-mantled tree kangaroo (pictured above) has jumped onto the list of species facing extinction. It looks similar to a kangaroo or wallaby, but has strong forearms and a long ringed tail. Tree kangaroos also have rubbery soles on shorter, wider feet to make them more adept at climbing than kangaroos on the ground. Though they are slow and clumsy on land, tree kangaroos move expertly through trees, wrapping their forearms around a limb and using the hind legs to propel themselves up. They also leap with ease between trees. The golden-mantled tree kangaroo lives in the forested areas of a mountain range in Papua New Guinea and was discovered in Indonesia in 2006 by a group of scientists. As more of the forest is cleared away to be made into cultivated land, the tree kangaroo's home is shrinking -- bad news when it has been run out of 99% of its historical habitat range. In 2008 there were only 250 of its kind left, and experts expect the number to drop under 200 in the next 10 years or so.

Siau Island Tarsier This Gremlin-esque little guy comes, unsurprisingly, from the island of Siau in Indonesia. Tarsiers are nocturnal primates with extremely large eyes, soft fur, and long fingers and feet. Researchers believe the Siau Island tarsier numbers in the low thousands, and local residents have said they've seen fewer and fewer of these tarsiers during the past 10 years. Take into account that more than half of the animal's home is an active volcano and that the island's human population is rumored to regularly eat five to 10 tarsiers in one sitting, and the future's not looking good for this species. In fact, it was put on the 2008-2010 list of the 25 most endangered primates, ranking up there with heavyweight names like the Sumatran Orangutan and Cross River Gorilla.

Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth A slightly smaller version of your average sloth found only on one small island off the coast of Panama, the pygmy three-toed sloth is inching its way toward extinction with presumably fewer than 500 of its kind remaining. Though apparently not helping it survive human threats, this sloth's set of skills includes the ability to turn its head 360 degrees and to grow algae on its fur. The algae is thought to be a sort of camouflage, but it hasn't been able to protect the sloth from fishermen, who hunt the sloths and can spot them easily in their habitats near open sea. And while sloths have gotten a bad name for being lazy, what with the whole seven deadly sins thing, maybe that reputation will help them in this instance. Hopefully when it comes to extinction, these sloths will go very slowly.

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