EARTH NEWS: WHAT'S HAPPENING IN SCIENCE AND NATURE:

World's Most Endangered Marine Mammals Down to 30 Individuals

Vaquitas (photo courtesy of NOAA)

Click on this link to read about the vaquita, a small (five-foot) species of porpoise that is evolutionarily unique and has no close relatives. (Porpoises as a group descend from hooved animals that entered the water about 50 million years ago; porpoises diverged from other cetaceans about 15 million years ago.) This remarkable mammal has been rendered nearly extinct by human activity, especially fishing: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/02/world-s-most-endangered-marine-mammal-down-30-individuals

Meet the World's Rarest Primate

Click on this link to meet the Hainan gibbon, a primate once abundant in China but now down to fewer than 30 individuals: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-33776466

Successor to the Hubble Telescope is Coming

The Hubble telescope (photo courtesy of NASA)

The Hubble telescope (photo courtesy of NASA)

Click on his link to learn about the successor to world-changing Hubble telescope, the James Webb telescope, which will be launched into space in 2018: 

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-33657528

Officials Seize 3.1 Tons of Pangolin Scales

Photo of tree pangolin by Valerius Tygart

Click on his link to learn about the latest efforts to combat trade in the world's most trafficked wild mammal, the pangolin, which is in high demand in parts of Asia, including China and Vietnam, for its scales (used in Asian medicine in the superstitious belief that the scales—which are made of the same material as human fingernails—have medicinal value) and its meat. Of the eight species of pangolin in Africa and Asia (some spend much of their time in trees, others are ground-dwellers), two are listed as critically endangered, two as endangered and four as vulnerable. In other words, they're all in trouble:  http://www.awf.org/news/officials-seize-31-tons-pangolin-scales