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Animals on the edge: scientists rush to protect Earth's rarest species.

Many of them look strange. Even their names are odd: the golden-rumped elephant shrew, the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, the northern hairy-nosed wombat. Perhaps it won't be a surprise, then, that they share a common fate. These animals are among the world's most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species.

In January, the Zoological Society of London launched a program to protect 100 threatened species. The animals were chosen based on I how near they are to extinction and on the uniqueness of their evolutionary history.

"These are one-of-a-kind species," EDGE scientist Jonathan Baillie told Reuters news service. "If they are lost, there is nothing similar to them left on the planet. It would be a bit like the art world losing the Mona Lisa--they are simply irreplaceable."

Global warming and human development are among the reasons for habitat loss among these species. The top creature on the list, the Yangtze River dolphin, may already be extinct.

According to recent studies, 70 percent of the EDGE species are receiving little or no conservation attention (see pie chart). Baillie and his fellow scientists hope to change that. They will work with local scientists to help them develop conservation programs in areas where the rare species live.

"Our goal is to ensure that over the next five years there are conservation measures in place for the top 100 species," Baillie said. "We have 10 species we are focusing on this year, but that will change over time."

EDGE hopes to enlist public support by showcasing the endangered animals online. To learn more, go to edgeofexistence.org.

LESSON PLANS

NEWS SPECIAL Animal on the Edge, p.6

Objectives

Students should be able to:

* understand the definition of an EDGE species.

* express a point of view about the value of saving endangered species.

Word to Know

* evolutionarilg distinct: species that are goner ically unique and have few close relatives.

Background

There is a current total of 564 species on the EDGE list. (The organization is focusing on the top 100 in its current campaign.) The United States is home to 31 of them, including several species of whales, porpoises, and seals.

Critical Thinking

MAKING INFERENCES: Why might so few EDGE animals be receiving conservation attention? (The animals are rare, so few people are aware of them.)

FORMING SUPPORTED OPINIONS: What would you say to people who are worried that conservation measures will cause them to lose their jobs at a logging company? (Answers will vary; students may point out that the loss of one species affects an entire ecosystem, or discuss strategies to protect jobs while also saving animals.)

Activity

IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION: Divide students into small groups. Have each investigate one of the top-10 EDGE species by going to the EDGE Web site. Where does the species live? What are its distinctive characteristics? What is threatening the species? An ambitious group may want to prepare a map of its animal's habitat.

STANDARD

SOCIAL STUDIES, GRADES 5-8

People, places, and environments: Human development threatens some of Earth's rarest animals.

RESOURCES

PRINT

Penny, Malcolm, Endangered Species: Our Impact on the Planet (Raintree Publishers, 2002). Grades 6-12.

Reading, Richard P., and Miller, Brian (eds.) Endangered Animals (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2000), grades 6-12.

WEB SITES

Life on Earth arkive.org

Photos: Weirdest Animals spiegel.de/fotostrecke/0,5538,18603,00.html

WORLD Peru: Life of the Quechua, pp. 8-10

Objective

Students should be able to:

* understand some of the difficult choices facing indigenous youth of the Andean villages of South America.

Background

Scholars report that the Inca adopted the Quechua language after conquering the people. Conquest by the Spanish in the 16th century profoundly changed the Quechua way of life. Still, the Quechua language remained a common means of communication in the Andes. Although Spanish had long been the official language, Peru adopted Quechua as the second official language in 1975, acknowledging its continued importance. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, population estimates of the Quechua range from 13 million to 16 million.

Critical Thinking

NOTING DETAILS: What are most of the people in Luis's village? (peasant farmers, or campesinos)

MAKING INFERENCES: Why might Zulma's decision not to go to Lamay for high school be more complicated than Luis's? (Her family may consider the journey too dangerous for a girl; her need for a room makes the trip more expensive; other answers likely.)

Activity

LIFE JOURNEYS: Leaving home to find new opportunities is a universal experience. Charge students with investigating their family history for such a story. Did their father or mother or another close relative have to do this? If so, what situation did they leave behind? What opportunities did they find in a new place, and what discouragements?

STANDARD

SOCIAL STUDIES, GRADES 5-8

People, places, and environments: In choosing to keep their traditional culture, Peru's indigenous people risk a life of poverty.

RESOURCES

PRINT

Gritzner, Charles F., and Gritzer, Yvonne, Peru (Chelsea House Publishers, 2004), grades 6-12.

Rachowiecki, Rob, Peru (Lonely Planet Publications, 2004). Grades 6 and up.

WEB SITES

Peru Pictures peru-pictures.org

Quecha Kids Performing youtube.com/watch?v=PCOBiwKyjvg

WORLD HISTORY The Dark Ages, pp. 12-14

Objectives

Students should be able to:

* recognize some key figures and events in Europe in the Early Middle Ages.

* understand why historians no longer use the term "Dark Ages."

Word to Know

* venerable: worthy of respect for one's achievements or good works.

Background

* For more on the Byzantine Empire and the Roman Empire's East-West split, see p. T-7.

* A Long Island, New York, history teacher created a series of podcasts on Byzantine rulers that is one of iTunes' top-5 educational podcasts, and is in the top 50 of all podcasts.anders.com/lectures/lars_brownworth/12_byzantine_rulers

Critical Thinking

NOTING DETAILS: What were some of the changes that occurred during the Early Middle Ages? (fall of Roman Empire; social and economic upheaval during the plague; decline of education; changing national borders; spread of Christianity; other answers acceptable)

DEFENDING AN ARGUMENT: How might the plague have affected the society and economy of Europe? (Answers will vary.)

Activity

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Have students compare the map on p. T-7 with what they read in the article, and with a present-day map of Europe. What connections can they draw between what happened in the Early Middle Ages and Europe as it exists today?

STANDARD

SOCIAL STUDIES, GRADES 5-8

Time, continuity, and change: Historians now see the Dark Ages as a time of important changes.

RESOURCES

PRINT

* Galloway, Priscilla, Archers, Alchemists, and 98 Other Medieval Jobs ... (Annick Press, 2003). Grades 5-8.

* Greenblatt, Miriam, Charlemagne and the Early Middle Ages (Benchmark Books, 2002]. Grades 5-8.

WEB SITES

* Early Medieval Maps henry-davis.com/MAPS/EMwebpages/EM1.html

Vikings

bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings
EDGE SPECIES

NO CONSERVATION ATTENTION 42%
LIMITED CONSERVATION ATTENTION 28%
CONSERVATION UNDERWAY 30%

Note: Table made from pie chart.
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Title Annotation:News Special
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Feb 26, 2007
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