Rarest of rare

Residents of New South Wales, Australia, have spotted two extremely rare albino echidnas in the space of just two weeks. Echidnas are shy creatures, and even individuals without albinism are rarely seen in the wild. A local resident found one of the all-white, quill-covered creatures on a road in the Bathurst region, according to ABC News. He helped the echidna cross safely before reporting the sighting to local council officials,

Echidnas are one of two known mammals in the world (along with platypuses) whose females lay eggs but also produce milk. Short-beaked echidnas (Tachyglossus aculeatus) are common throughout temperate Australia and lowland New Guinea, while long-beaked echidnas (three living species belonging to the genus Zaglossus) only live in the highlands of New Guinea, according to the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment.


Global loss of wildlife is ‘significantly more alarming’ than previously thought

The global loss of wildlife is “significantly more alarming” than previously thought, according to a new study that found almost half the planet’s species are experiencing rapid population declines. Humans have already wiped out huge numbers of species and pushed many more to the brink – with some scientists saying we are entering a “sixth mass extinction” event, this time driven by humans.

The main factor is the destruction of wild landscapes to make way for farms, towns, cities and roads, but climate change is also an important driver of species decline and is predicted to have an increasingly worse impact as the world warms.

The study’s authors analyzed more than 70,000 species across the globe – spanning mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects – to determine whether their populations have been growing, shrinking or remaining steady over time. They found 48% of these species are declining in population size, with fewer than 3% seeing increases, according to the study published Monday in the journal Biological Reviews.

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