The world has seen five recognisable mass extinctions till now and the final one wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. "(The study) shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event," said Paul Ehrlich, senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

The researchers have warned that humans could be among the species lost as a result of the current mass extinction event. "If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on," cited lead author Gerardo Ceballos from the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico.

There is general agreement among scientists that extinction rates have reached unparalleled levels since the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago. However, some have challenged the theory, believing earlier estimates rested on assumptions that overestimated the crisis.

Using fossil records and extinction counts from a range of records, the researchers compared a highly conservative estimate of current extinctions with a normal 'background' rate estimate twice as high as those widely used in previous analysis.

This way, they brought the two estimates - current extinction rate and average background or going-on-all-the-time extinction rate - as close to each other as possible.

Latest News from Lifestyle News Desk