Frogs are dying off at record rates - an ominous sign the 6th mass extinction is hitting one group of creatures hardest
- Our planet is in the middle of a mass extinction - the sixth time in Earth's history that animal and plant species are disappearing in enormous numbers.
- Amphibians, particularly frogs, are among the hardest hit by this extinction crisis, as are insects and reptiles.
- At least 2,000 species of amphibian are in danger of extinction, according to a recent study. A report from the United Nations confirmed that 40% of amphibian species are threatened.
- Here are photos of 15 endangered frogs, geckos, and snakes that might soon disappear.
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Human activity has killed off 680 mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, and fish species since the 1500s. As much as half of the total number of animal individuals that once shared the planet with us are already gone.That death toll is likely to rise dramatically over the next decades.Advertisement
A recent report from the United Nations found that between 500,000 and 1 million plant and animals species face imminent extinction. At least 10% of insect species and more than 33% of all marine mammals and reef-forming coral are threatened, it found. But one group is expected to suffer most of all: Amphibians. An estimated 40% of amphibian species face extinction, according to the UN report. A study published in the journal Current Biology estimated that at least 2,000 amphibian species are in danger of extinction.
This group includes frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts.In the past 50 years, more than 500 amphibian species have experienced population declines worldwide, and 90 of them have gone extinct, due to a deadly fungal disease called chytridiomycosis (or chytrid fungus), which corrodes frog flesh.According to a recent study in the journal Science, chytridiomycosis has wreaked havoc on frog, toad, and salamander species around the world. Amphibian deaths associated with chytrid fungus represent the greatest recorded loss of biodiversity attributable to any one disease, the authors found. Humans enabled the disease to spread further than it otherwise could have in large part because of the global wildlife trade.Advertisement
Dutch photographer Matthijs Kuijpers has made it a personal mission to capture images of many colorful and bizarre amphibians before they disappear. His work is published in his new book, called "Cold Instinct" - take a look.
Most scientific evidence points to one conclusion: Earth appears to be undergoing a process of "biological annihilation," largely due to human activity.
Kuijpers has so far photographed 1,500 species, across every continent except Antarctica.Advertisement
Kuijpers says he want to show the "essence of the animal” in each of his photos.
To him, that means "no distractions." So Kuijpers photographed many of the animals against black backdrops or removed background foliage when editing.Advertisement
To date, Kuijpers has photographed 2,000 species of reptiles and amphibians.
His work reveals a special fascination with poison dart frogs.Advertisement
These frogs' bright colors serves as a warning to predators: Toxins in their skin can paralyze or kill potential threats.
Dart frogs' toxins can induce heart failure and convulsions.Advertisement
Kuijpers told Fast Company that it took him weeks of exploration in the mountains of Suriname to capture this magenta-accented toad on camera.
The photographer said he wants his book to serve as a "time capsule of the coldblooded species on Earth.”Advertisement
Kuijpers said just one rat or cat could decimate the entire population of this animal, the Union Island gecko.
Kuijpers, who is 45 now, said he has been taking photographs since the age of 18.Advertisement
That experience allows him how to get detailed close-up shots of fast-moving creatures like this gecko.
Kuijpers said part of his goal in photographing these reptiles is to remove misconceptions and fears that many people have about cold-blooded animals.Advertisement
Even seemingly intimidating creatures, like the poisonous Siamese peninsula pit viper, are vulnerable and disappearing at unprecedented rates.
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