Animals on both the large and small side of the spectrum face the most risk of extinction — but for very different reasons, each with vast consequences for the planet, researchers said Monday. For big creatures — including whale sharks, Atlantic sturgeon, Somali ostriches, Chinese giant salamanders and Komodo dragons — people are the top threat to their survival, said the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal. “Many of the larger species are being killed and consumed by humans,” said lead author William Ripple, a distinguished professor of ecology at Oregon State University.

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