In the nearly half-century since the U.S. Endangered Species Act came into force, only 11 other species have ever been delisted because they disappeared.
A million plants and animals are in danger of disappearing, many within decades. The newly extinct species are the casualties of climate change and habitat destruction, dying out sooner than any new protections can save them.
The species pushed over the brink include 9 birds, 1 bat and 1 plant found only on Pacific islands, as well as 8 types of freshwater mussels that once inhabited riverbeds from Illinois to Georgia.
The ivory-billed woodpecker, above, suffered a precipitous drop in numbers due to marksmen gunning them down for private collectors and hat makers, while loggers felled the old-growth stands of forest in the south east where the birds roosted and foraged for grub.
Rivers once teeming with mussels — which clean streams by filtering them — have been transformed by industrial pollution, dam construction and rising water temperatures linked to climate change. The invertebrates often can’t escape.
8 Hawaiian birds were officially declared extinct, and like so many island-bound creatures, have succumbed to wave after wave of invasive species, including feral hogs that root up native seed-bearing plants and mosquitoes that spread an avian form of malaria. Rising temperatures allow disease-carrying mosquitoes to reach elevations once too cool for them to tolerate, going deeper into birds’ territories.