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biodiversity

OLogy Series
biology
card
134

biodiversity

OLogy Series
biology

Scientists have identified over 1.75 million species on Earth -- over one million of them are insects and spiders. There are many more yet to be identified! All living things are dependent upon one another for survival. This variety of life on Earth -- and its interdependence -- is called biodiversity.

Scientists say we are in the middle of a sixth mass extinction. Based on fossil evidence, when did the fifth great extinction occur?

about 650 years ago

about 65,000 years ago

about 65 million years ago

Are you right?

Correct!

About 65 million years ago, around two-thirds of all species, including all the dinosaur groups except birds, became extinct. While this extinction was caused by a natural occurence (possibly due to an asteroid collision), the current extinction is being accelerated at an alarming rate by humans.

Eleanor Sterling

Everything is interconnected, and to understand how the natural world works, you have to consider everything in it.

Extinction is a natural process that can happen only to plants.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Extinction is a natural process that can happen to any living organism -- plant or animal. When a species becomes extinct, it's gone forever.

All kinds of plants and animals on Earth are related to each other.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Every kind of life, from bacteria to humans, contains DNA. DNA contains genes -- the building blocks of life -- that pass information from one generation to the next.

biodiversity
What it is: the variety of life on Earth and the ways life is interconnected
Why it's important: it affects the air we breathe, the food we eat, how clean our drinking water is, and is the source of products that come from the Earth (medicine, clothes, shoes, paper, etc.)
Threats affecting it: habitat loss, invasive species, overconsumption, pollution, and climate change

Image credits: AMNH, spectrum of life in Hall of Biodiversity; Eleanor Sterling: courtesy of AMNH.