Extinction of Species 🏡

That some species go extinct is in fact quite natural and has been happening in natura for as long as it could have.

The rate at which species go extinct in this way is called the background extinction rate1. Estimating this rate is very hard and estimated rates thus differ greatly.

It is however agreed upon that the current actual rate of extinction far superseeds that of the background extinction, being 100 or possibly thousands times larger. 2

Mass extinctions

  1. 66 million years ago - End of Cretaceous
  2. 199 million years ago - Late Triassic
  3. 252 million years ago - End of Permian: largest event
  4. 378 million years ago - Late Devonian
  5. 447 million years ago - Late Ordovician: due to cooling climate

Accelerating rates of extinction

After the great industrialisation and the massive growth of human population seen since the 1800s the rate of extinction has increased and keeps doing so 2 3.

Current number of species threatened by extinction

Depending on what constitutes a species threatened by extinction and who you ask you’ll get different current estimates.

IUCN Red List

The IUCN categories that are included on the Red List are:

Norwegian red list by Artsdatabanken

In my province in Norway there are 448 species on the current Norwegian red list from 2015. 5

Some of these are

English Norwegian Latin Status
Mountain fox polarrev Vulpes lagopus CR
Common skate storskate Dipturus batis CR
Mountain fox polarrev Vulpes lagopus CR
Common murre lomvi Uria aalge CR (LC globally)
Wolverine jerv Gulo gulo EN (LC globally)
Black-legget kittiwake krykkje Rissa tridactyla EN (VU globally)
Lynx gaupe Lynx lynx EN (LC globally)
Rose fish vanlig uer Sebastes norvegicus EN
Snow owl snøugle Bubo scandiacus En (VU globally)
Razonbill alke Alca torda EN (NT globally)

These lists are made by Artsdatabanken in accordance with the guidelines set by the international organisation IUCN.

A new and updated version is in the works for 2021!


  1. Background extinction rate - Wikipedia ↩︎

  2. Extinction Over Time - Smithsonian ↩︎

  3. UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’ ↩︎

  4. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species ↩︎

  5. Norsk rødliste for arter - Artsdatabanken ↩︎