Life Cycle

A special issue tracks the planet's vanishing animal species, the science of change and the plight of America's military recruiters

Russell A. Mittermeier / CI

Bryan Walsh holds a Parson's chameleon.

Pretty nearly all the animal species that existed during Earth's history are gone. There may be at least 8 million species of life on the planet right now, but there are many millions more that exist only as fossils or in the mind's eye of zoologists. In this week's cover story for our annual Environment issue, Bryan Walsh writes that there have been five great waves of extinction in the planet's history--the most recent being 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs bit the dust. Now, he suggests, we may be entering the sixth. Some 1 in 4 mammals are under...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!