Shortnose Cisco (Coregonus reighardi). Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. FMNH no. 63398. Conservation status: critically endangered. The species is a native of the Great Lakes of North America. No specimen has been collected since 1985 and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources consider it extinct. Its decline is likely due to environmental degradation, commercial overfishing and predation by the parasitic and invasive sea lamprey. In addition, little is known of its habits and life cycle.
As biologists describe new species and add to our understanding of the interrelated nature of life on Earth, a species becomes extinct every 20 minutes (100 to 1000 times the background extinction rate as seen in the fossil record). Collections in natural history museums play important roles in conservation, education and research. Most of that work and the associated specimens are not on public display in museumsÃ¢€š typically, less than five percent of specimens are exhibited.