Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. The 7-foot-long (220-centimeter) Mississippi paddlefish shown here are among the world's biggest freshwater creaturesand they're two of the stars of our third most viewed gallery of 2007.The National Geographic Society-funded Megafishes Project, which launched in early 2007, is currently studying the paddlefish and other large, little-understood freshwater fish species. Australia, New Zealand, and South America are among the hardest hit as rising temperatures could drive the extinction of one in six species worldwide.
Four animals that face increased risk of extinction as temperatures rise include Australiaa€™s yellow-footed rock-wallaby, golden-shouldered parrot and Lumholtz tree-kangaroo, and New Zealanda€™s lizard-like tuatara.
One in six species could disappear as the climate warms over the next century, with animals and plants in South America particularly hard hit while those in North America  would face the lowest risk, according to a major new analysis published Thursday. With naturally small populations of native species in its tropical rainforests and mountains, South America could see extinction rates more than four times higher than those in the United States and Canada, according to the study published in the journal Science. In Australia and New Zealand, where the ability of plants and animals to shift to new locations is constrained by oceans, the percentage of extinctions could be more than double North Americaa€™s.
Many scientists have tried to calculate which animals and plants from which parts of the world are most likely to be driven into oblivion by climate change. Mark Urban, an associate professor of ecology at the University of Connecticut, found that so many studies used so many different methods that scientists could point to whichever ones confirmed their points of view. This is evidence that wea€™re pushing the earth to a place where it has either never been or hasna€™t been for a very, very long time.

To try to sort it out, Urban reviewed 131 extinction studies and used computer models and other statistical techniques to combine their data into one global estimate. Urban found that the faster humans let temperatures rise, the more extinction rates would accelerate. But if global average temperatures rise 4.3 degrees Celsiusa€”which could happen under current trajectories without dramatic reductions in fossil fuel emissionsa€”extinction rates could jump to 16 percent, or one in every six species. Some areas faced far greater risks than others in part because they have more endemic speciesa€”plants animals found nowhere elsea€”inhabiting small areas. Thata€™s why climate change already is contributing to the decline of South Americaa€™s yellow crested and blue-backed manakins and New Zealanda€™s tuatara, a lizard-like reptile whose eggs produce females only when nests are cool.
The photographs in this video are featured in the National Geographic book Rare, the result of Joel Sartore's three-year investigation of endangered species in North America.
In Australia, meanwhile, climate change is posing risks for the survival of everything from the yellow-footed rock wallaby and Lumholtz tree kangaroo to pink-tailed legless lizards and golden-shouldered parrots. The research also does not account for the complex ways climate change will alter natural systems, compounding problems brought about by pollution or excess development.
How do snakes swallow prey bigger than their heads?A snake's jaws work much like the loose hinge on a pair of pliers, allowing the snake to spread its jaws over its meal. How do snakes defend themselves?In addition to biting, snakes employ a wide range of behaviors to ward off potential predators.

A survivor searches the rubble of Banda Aceh, where about half of the population was killed by the December 24 tsunami. Their work is representative of the outstanding body of photography that has become the trademark of the National Geographic Society.In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, a multidisciplinary team of conservationists, photojournalists, and new media specialists documented and explored the Belizean Barrier Reef Reserve System. One 2013 study predicted that 82 percent of Californiaa€™s native freshwater fish species could vanish or reach low numbers due to global warming. Rising temperatures have led to fewer adult female tuatara, straining the future of entire populations. Global extinction rates also cana€™t take into account how climate change affects predator and prey relationships, or how fast or slowly plants and animals might move to new habitats. But remember, all snakes can bite, so heed their warnings and leave them alone!The Mysteries of Venom Premieres Wednesday, February 19, 2003 at 8 p.m.

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