“Virtually no biologist thinks about the failure to originate as being a major factor in the long term causes of extinction,” said Charles Marshall, director of the UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology and professor of integrative biology, and co-author of the report. “But we found that a decrease in the origin of new species is just as important as increased extinction rate in driving mammals to extinction.”

What this means is that rather than animals and plants disappearing because of ‘bad luck’ in a static and unchanging environment, “they face constant change — a deteriorating environment and more successful competitors and predators — that requires them to continually adapt and evolve new species just to survive.”

While this may sound like common sense, it’s a conception that apparently doesn’t have much representation/backing in the scientific community.

Such decreases would play out rather slowly — over millions of years, the researchers note. So the knowledge doesn’t particularly apply to our current situation — the relentless extinctions of animal and plant life currently occurring as a result of human activities, the 6th Great Mass Extinction Event. But the research certainly does have some relevance — and should help to further our understanding of the pressures on today’s flora and fauna.