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“Elephants, rhinos and tigers may be the poster boys of the animal kingdom, but many of the world’s most extraordinary animals are slipping towards extinction unnoticed.

Aardvark Mezzotint
Aardvark Mezzotint

The long-beaked echidna (one of only two types of egg-laying mammal), and Chinese giant salamander (a newt that has reached human sized proportions) have few close relatives on the Tree of Life and are extremely distinct in the way they look, live and behave. If they disappear there will be nothing like them left on the planet.

What does Evolutionary Distinct mean?
The evolutionary distinctiveness or “uniqueness” of a species is measured by looking at how long it has been evolving independently from its closest relatives. Species with few or no close relatives (e.g. the aardvark or duck-billed platypus) are more evolutionarily distinct than those with many close relatives (e.g. the brown rat). The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has developed an index for identifying the world’s most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species.


Evolutionarily Distinct species are important to conserve since they may play a unique role in their ecosystem, or contain genetic material not found in other species. They are quite simply irreplaceable.

High ranking EDGE species range from the familiar (e.g. Asian elephant or giant panda) to the virtually unknown (e.g. Sagalla caecilian).
They are nature’s most precious assets yet an alarming proportion are being completely overlooked by the conservation movement. The EDGE of Existence programme (www.edgeofexistence.org) focuses on
poorly-known EDGE mammals, amphibians and corals, such as the Sunda pangolin (a “scaly anteater” from Southeast Asia) or the mushroom coral from Indonesia. Through raising awareness, investing in a new generation of conservation leaders and initiating targeted conservation action, EDGE aims to secure the future of 100 EDGE species over the next 5 years”.

The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is number 313 on the endangered species list. The name aardvark comes from the Africaan/Dutch meaning “earth pig”
The Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) is number 91 on the endangered species list. They belong to an ancient clade of egg-laying mammals

Download the Edge brochure here http://www.edgeofexistence.org/downloads/edge_information_low.pdf

ZSL Edge logo
ZSL Edge logo

Learn more about globally endangered species at the ZSL EDGE ‘Edge of Existence’ website

The top 100 list of Endangered Species
1. Yangtze River dolphin
2. Long-beaked echidna
3. Riverine rabbit
4. Cuban solenodon
5. Hispaniolan solenodon
6. Sumatran rhinoceros
7. Black rhinoceros
8. Bactrian camel
9. Northern hairy-nosed wombat
10. Sumatran rabbit
11. Javan rhinoceros
12. Asian elephant
13. African wild ass
14. Onager
15. Vietnam leaf-nosed bat
16. Aye-aye
17. Japanese dormouse
18. Giant panda
19. Red panda
20. Wroughton’s free-tailed bat
21. Pygmy hippopotamus
22. Slender loris
23. Golden bamboo lemur
24. Greater bamboo lemur
25. Seychelles sheath-tailed bat
26. Anderson’s mouse opossum
27. Mediterranean monk seal
28. Mountain pygmy possum
29. Golden-crowned sifaka
30. Northern marsupial mole
31. Southern marsupial mole
32. Puerto Rican hutia
33. Bulmer’s fruit bat
34. Baird’s tapir
35. Gracile mouse opossum
36. Indri
37. Hirola
38. Greater big-footed mouse
39. New-Guinea big-eared bat
40. Persian mole
41. Volcano rabbit
42. Monito del monte
43. Fossa
44. Amami rabbit
45. Hainan gymnure
46. Golden-rumped elephant shrew
47. Dinagat moonrat
48. Mindanao gymnure
49. Bumblebee bat
50. Hairy-eared dwarf lemur
51. Muennink’s spiny rat
52. Small-toothed mole
53. Dugong
54. Leadbeater’s possum
55. Nimba otter-shrew
56. New Zealand lesser short-tailed bat
57. Short-tailed chinchilla
58. Malayan water shrew
59. Sumatran water shrew
60. Desert dormouse
61. Salenski’s shrew
62. Saiga antelope
63. Maned three-toed sloth
64. Iranian jerboa
65. Ganges River dolphin
66. Indus River dolphin
67. Chacoan peccary
68. Senkaku mole
69. Handley’s slender mouse opossum
70. Long-footed potoroo
71. Philippine flying lemur
72. Inquisitive shrew-mole
73. Chinese shrew-mole
74. Indian rhinoceros
75. Armenian birch mouse
76. Chapa pygmy dormouse
77. African elephant
78. Vaquita
79. Yellow-tailed woolly monkey
80. Mountain tapir
81. Long-eared jerboa
82. Grevy’s zebra
82. Mountain zebra
84. Amazonian manatee
85. Peter’s tube-nosed bat
86. Chinese dormouse
87. Blunt-eared bat
88. Blue whale
88. Fin whale
90. Falanouc
91. The Chinese Pangolin
92. Bushy-tailed opossum
93. Gallagher’s free-tailed bat
94. Old World sucker-footed bat
95. Malagasy giant jumping rat
96. Imaizumi’s horseshoe bat
97. Orangutan
98. Chiapan climbing-rat
99. Tumbala climbing-rat
100. Setzer’s mouse-tailed dormouse


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