Meet the First Mammal to Go Extinct From Climate Change

June 16th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

The first mammal extinction caused by manmade climate change has happened, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Bramble Cay Melomy

Scientists on Tuesday said that rising sea levels have likely extinguished the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent mammal species that lived on a tiny island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Melomys used to exist in larger numbers. But since the 1970s, their numbers have decreased rapidly, according to population estimates by the Australian Government's Department of the Environment. In 2009, they were placed on the endangered species list.

Here's a cousin of the Bramble Cay melomys.


A photo posted by anomalure (@anomalure) on

"The key factor responsible for the death of the Bramble Cay melomys is almost certainly high tides and surging seawater, which has traveled inland across the island," Luke Leung, a scientist at the University of Queensland, told the Times.

Leung contributed to a new report about the apparent extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys, out this month.

While this may be the first species to get snuffed out by the drastic environmental changes brought on by manmade climate change, scientists predict that it's likely not the last.

Bramble Cay

Last April, researchers at the University of Connecticut reported that "if climate changes proceed as expected, one in six species could face extinction."

"We have the choice," one ecologist who worked on the analysis, Mark Urban, told The New York Times. "The world can decide where on that curve they want the future of the Earth to be."