15 Animals That Went Extinct

Dodo bird

It was a flightless bird native to the island of Mauritius and became extinct in 1662. Dutch sailors first mentioned the bird in 1598. The species were eventually hunted by humans and other predators. During this time, its habitat was being obliterated. Due to its fast extinction within the first century of it being discovered, it became clear that human involvement was the main cause for the disappearance of the bird. In more popular culture, the dodo became widely recognized after it appeared in the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Baiji

The increase of heavy riving fishing, hydroelectricity and transportation have caused the decline of the baiji population. A conservation action plan was in order to save the endangered species, but organizers failed to locate the animals. The last known living baiji named Quqi died in 2002 and organizers have declared the species functionally extinct. Although in 2007, it was reported a Chinese man filmed video of a large white animal in the Yangtze river, that was speculated to be a baiji. Currently, the World Wildlife Fund is summoning for a preservation habitat in case the species is found to be alive.

Round Island boa

Last seen on Round Island, this species of snake was believed to be extinct in 1975. It lived on volcanic slopes, preferring the top soil layers to inhabit. It was three feet in length and had light brown and black spots. The snake’s population started declining in the 1940’s and was considered a rare species by 1949. With the introduction of non-native species of goats and rabbits on the island, it was concluded that the snake’s habitat and vegetation was destroyed. The Round Island boa is its closest living relative, however there is no subspecies of the animal that is currently known.

Irish Deer

Also known as the Irish Elk or Giant deer, it lived in Eurasia from Ireland. It was the tallest deer ever to exist and measured 7 feet tall. They were mostly being hunted for their antlers and as well as for their meat. Forests and fauna of its habitat were also being demolished. The most current remains of the animal have been carbon dated to around 7,000 years ago in Siberia. The Long Now Foundation has selected the Irish Deer as a possible candidate for revival. Its closely related to the Red deer.

Quagga

It is an extinct subspecies of the South African plains zebra. The animal became a big target for hunting and domestication after the Dutch settled in South Africa. Some of the animals were placed in zoos, but breeding programs taking place in the facility were unsuccessful. The last captive of the species was wiped out by 1883. Today, only one photo of the Quagga is known to exist and twenty-three skins of the animal are preserved. The Quagga Project is a type of development that is trying to recreate the species hair coat pattern through Burchell’s zebras.

Aurochs

Native to Europe, North Africa and Asia, it is the ancestor of the domestic cattle. It was big in size and weight, growing up to six feet tall and weighing at least a ton. The animal died out in 1627 after it was being domesticated by humans and its home was being destroyed. These creatures have been depicted in paintings inside the Lascaux caves in France. There is a European project currently in development to bring back the species. Through this process, scientists take the animal’s teeth and bone and compare it similar breeds that carry its DNA.

West African Black Rhino

It is a subspecies of the Black Rhino located in the southeast region of Africa. Rhinos are poached mainly for their horns, which is believed to cure many ailments, including cancer. Rhino horns have been used in medicinal practices for centuries and it’s all being driven by money. The growing demand of rhino horns have killed at least 1,215 rhinos within the last year, making it the third largest illegal trade in the world. Preservation acts have been taken to save the Rhinos, but they still remain threaten. The last of this species was seen in Cameroon in 2006. In 2011, the West African Black Rhino was officially extinct.

Pyrenean Ibex

This species was one of the four subspecies of the Iberian Goat or the Spanish Ibex. Feeding on grasses and herbs, they lived in rocky terrain in high cliffs and mountain slopes. The measured 60-70 cm from the shoulders and had thick grey fur. The number of species started declining in early 1900’s. The exact reason for its extinction remains a mystery, but a number of causes including hunting, disease and competition for resources may be contributing factors. In 2011, the last of the animal was killed by a falling tree in northern Spain.

Zanzibar Leopard

Native to the Zanzibar archipelago of Tanzania, it’s still unclear if this cat is technically extinct. There are a few occasional sightings, but these remain unconfirmed. These big cats were seen as a threat and were heavily on the path to be exterminated by the government. Tanzania locals also believed witches aggressively hunted them for rituals and their fur. By the mid-90’s, there were little conservation efforts to save the dying species. Local wildlife officials are hopeful about the leopard’s survival and the possibility of a conservation is being presented in case the animal is spotted alive.

Elephant Bird

Indigenous to the island of Madagascar, this large flightless bird because extinct in the 18th century. Reasons for its disappearance remains unknown, however human involvement seems to be a cause. Humans hunted the birds and collected its eggs which were large enough to feed a family of four. Some subfossil eggs of the species were found intact and were put on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Kiwis are the elephant bird’s closest living relative.

Ground Sloth

Also known as the Megatherium, it was believed to be as large as a modern day elephant! It had dark hair, huge claws and could even walk on its hind legs. Standing at 20 feet tall, their height was perfect for reaching high leaves on trees and insects… They died out when humans began invading in their territory and they were also not able to adapt to the rapid climate change during the last ice age. Another theory is that an infectious disease quickly spread throughout all the giant animals and slowly killed them off.

Thylacine

More commonly known as the Tasmanian Tiger, this large and carnivorous marsupial was native to New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania. Although it has tiger in its name, it is not related to tigers at all; but its dark stripes gleaming on its back gave it a tiger appearance. The last of its species died out between 1910 to 1920 from heavy poaching and humans invading in its habitat. The last captive animal died in Hobart Zoo in Tasmania in 1936. Its closest living relative is believed to be the numbat or the Tasmanian devil.

Steller’s Sea Cow

Closely related to the manatee, this extinct marine mammal measured 30 feet in length. With its size, it was among one of the largest mammals besides whales to ever exist during the Holocene period. It lived in herds and in an isolated population in the Commander Islands. Due to overhunting, the sea cow became a target for food and its skin. The animal’s fat was only being used for oil lamps, since it didn’t give off any odor and went a long time before spoiling. It shortly became extinct in 1768, only 27 years after the species were discovered by Europeans.

Saber-tooth Tiger

Also known as a sabre toothed cat, these massive felines roamed the Earth 55 million to 11,000 thousand years ago. They were known for their superb hunting skills and powerful jaws that contained sharp blade-like teeth. During an attack, they could open their jaw as twice as large than a modern lion, at an angle of 120 degrees! Their bite was so fierce that it could rip the flesh out of any animal. Due to the decrease of their prey and other herbivores, the species may have unable to adapt to hunting smaller animals; which resulted in the extinction of the big cats. Other factors for extinction include climate change and competition with humans for other resources.

Woolly Mammoth

Closely related to the modern day elephant, this enormous creature travelled to Africa more than 2.5 million years ago. Weighing over six tons and covered in fur from head to toe, the Woolly Mammoth adapted well to frigid temperatures in the last ice age. Its tusks were curved and long, measuring 5 meters long! Due to climate change and human activity, the animal species started declining rapidly. It is believed the last of the animal were last seen around 1700 BC in the Wrangel Island in the Arctic Oceans.

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