Scientists believe the disappearance of a small rodent from the Great Barrier Reef marks the world’s first recorded extinction of a mammal primarily due to human-caused climate change.
The Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent that lived on an island in the eastern Torres Strait, was considered the only mammal species endemic to the Great Barrier Reef, the Guardian reported.
A new report, published this month, featured the findings of a fruitless search for the animal conducted in 2014. The melomys were last seen in 2009, according to the Guardian. The report recommends that the status of the species now be changed from “endangered” to “extinct.” Scientists attributed the extinction to rising sea levels that killed the animals and destroyed their habitat.
“For low-lying islands like Bramble Cay, the destructive effects of extreme water levels resulting from severe meteorological events are compounded by the impacts from anthropogenic climate change-driven sea-level rise,” the report said. “Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change.”