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10 Animals Recently Gone Extinct

Baiji Dolphin
Qiqi, the last confirmed baiji. Roland Seitre, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are like us, you find this list tragic, but awareness is essential in conserving the rare animal species left on this planet. Therefore, we look deeper at these animals, their stories, and how to prevent the past from repeating itself.

Introduction

sumatran orangutan
Sumatran orangutans are critically endangered. Image via Depositphotos

It has been calculated that between 0.01 and 0.1% of all species will become extinct yearly. Based on this estimation, between 200 and 2,000 extinctions occur every year.

Every day, up to 150 species may go extinct. This means as many as 10 percent of species a decade. Scientists have recently estimated that there are approximately 8.7 million species on Earth. They believe that 1-2 million of those species are animals.

Scientists at the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity

#1 Splendid Poison frog (2020)

Splendid Poison frog
Splendid Poison frog (Oophaga speciosa). Manzanillo Park, Limón, Costa Rica, 11/2018. DiMoNiAk, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The splendid poison frog, also known as the poison-arrow frog, was a poison dart frog species unique to the western tip of Panama.

The primary factors contributing to the decline of the splendid poison frog were deforestation and habitat degradation. These threats were exacerbated by human actions, including logging, the expansion of urban and suburban areas, and the construction and use of rail lines. Regrettably, these activities collectively played a significant role in driving this remarkable frog species to extinction.

#2 Bramble Cay melomys (2016)

Bramble Cay melomys
Bramble cay melomys (Melomys rubicola). State of Queensland, CC BY 3.0 AU, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bramble Cay melomys, also known as the Bramble Cay mosaic-tailed rat, is a recently extinct rodent species. It was native to Bramble Cay, an isolated coral cay situated at the northernmost point of Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef.

Scientists have concluded that human-induced climate change played a pivotal role in the extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys. The species’ habitat, Bramble Cay, encompassing a mere 10 acres, was situated at an elevation of less than 10 feet above sea level. This vulnerability to rising sea levels ultimately led to their tragic demise.

#3 Baiji Dolphin (2002)

Baiji Dolphin
Qiqi, the last confirmed baiji, who died in 2002. Roland Seitre, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The baiji, potentially an extinct freshwater dolphin species, holds the tragic distinction of possibly being the first dolphin species driven to extinction by human influence.

Its name, “Baiji,” translates to ‘white fin’ in Chinese, reflecting its distinctive physical characteristic.

The primary culprit behind the decline of the baiji is believed to be the use of fishing nets equipped with hooks that inadvertently trap and drown these dolphins as bycatch. Additional factors, such as habitat degradation, may have also played a role in their decline.

#4 Pinta Giant Tortoise (2012)

Pinta giant tortoise
Lonesome George, the last surviving Pinta giant tortoise (Geochelone nigra abingdoni) on Santa Cruz. He died on June 24, 2012. putneymark, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Pinta Island tortoise, also called the Pinta giant tortoise or Abingdon Island tortoise, is a Galápagos tortoise species native to Ecuador’s Pinta Island. It was widely believed to be extinct, notably with the passing of Lonesome George in 2012. However, recent discoveries have brought a glimmer of hope, as scientists have identified 31 tortoises on Isabella Island in the Galapagos Island chain. These tortoises are believed to have partial lineage from the Pinta Island tortoise but are considered functionally extinct in their natural habitat.

#5 Western Black Rhino (2011)

Western Black Rhino
Skull of female Western Black Rhino. Senckenberg Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The western black rhinoceros or West African black rhinoceros is an extinct subspecies of the black rhinoceros. It was declared extinct by the IUCN in 2011. 

But the western black rhino and northern white rhinos have recently become extinct in the wild. The only two remaining northern white rhino are kept under 24-hour guard in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

The main reason the West African black rhino is extinct is because of poachers or illegal hunters. Poachers killed them solely for their horns, for use in Chinese medicine, and as decoration in the Middle East.

Discover a more in-depth understanding by reading our dedicated article, where we unveil the rhino horn crisis.

#6 Alaotra Grebe Bird (2010)

Alaotra Grebe Bird
Alaotra Grebe Bird (Tachybaptus rufolavatus). © Citron, via Wikimedia Commons

The Alaotra grebe, also known as Delacour’s little or rusty grebe, is an extinct grebe endemic to Lake Alaotra and its surrounding lakes in Madagascar.

The last known sighting of the bird was in 1985 and experts have now confirmed its demise, killed off by a combination of poaching and predatory fish.

#7 Spix’s Macaw (functionally extinct 2000)

Spix's macaw
Spix’s macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii). Etna 1984, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spix’s macaw, also known as the little blue macaw, is a macaw native to Brazil.

The Spix’s macaw is one of the rarest birds in the world: it is estimated that there are only 177 captive individuals worldwide.

The species was declared extinct in the wild in 2000.

#8 Moorean viviparous tree snail (Functionally extinct 2009)

Moorean viviparous tree snail
Moorean viviparous tree snail (Partula suturalis) in the Jersey Zoo; origin Moorea, Society Islands. Simon J. Tonge, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Partula mooreana, commonly known as the Moorean viviparous tree snail, belonged to a species of air-breathing tropical land snails, specifically a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk within the Partulidae family.

Native exclusively to French Polynesia, this species sadly met extinction in its natural habitat.

#9 Pyrenean ibex (2000 & 2003)

Pyrenean ibex
Pyrenean ibex. Image via Depositphotos

The Pyrenean ibex, also known as the Pyrenean wild goat or bucardo in Spain, was a mountain goat species that stood out for its larger size and impressive horns compared to its surviving relatives, C. p. hispanica and C. p. victoriae.

The last adult Pyrenean ibex died in 2000 – a female called Celia. A few years later, conservationists attempted to resurrect the Pyrenean ibex using cells that had been collected from a living Pyrenean ibex and stored. A cloned baby was born to a surrogate mother, but unfortunately passed away soon due to lung defects, making the Pyrenean ibex the first species to go extinct twice.

#10 Bachman’s warbler (2023)

Bachman’s warbler
A male Bachman’s Warbler, in one of the last photographs taken of this species (1958). Jerry A. Payne, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org, CC BY 3.0 US, via Wikimedia Commons

Bachman’s warbler (Vermivora bachmanii) was a migratory passerine bird that lived in Southeastern and Midwestern United States and wintered in Cuba. The last confirmed sighting of this bird was in 1988 in Louisiana.

In October 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed this bird from their list of protected species and declared that it was extinct.

Main Causes of Extinction

Deforestation
Deforestation. Land cleared and burned to make way for palm oil plantation. Image via Depiositphotos

The extinction of a species is the result of a sustained level of threat across the entire distribution of a species, over a prolonged period.

Oxford University Press

The main drivers behind species declines, endangerment, and extinction can be attributed to certain factors. These include land development, overexploitation, species translocations and introductions, and pollution. These human-induced factors lead to both ecological and genetic effects that increase the risk of extinction.

In a nutshell, the five primary causes of extinction can be distilled into:

  1. Habitat loss
  2. Introduction of non-native species
  3. Pollution
  4. Population growth
  5. Overconsumption
  6. Deforestation

Conservation Organizations

reforestation
Reforestation in Praslin, Seychelles. TRASS/SETS, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Activism Begins At Home

plant
You can contribute to maintaining biodiversity at your own home. Image via Depositphotos

How to combat the pace of extinction of species: These are a few simple ways to help:

  1. Educate your family about endangered species in your area.
  2. Recycle and buy sustainable products.
  3. Reduce your water consumption.
  4. Reduce your footprint.
  5. Do not buy plastic products.
  6. Pressure your civil servants.
  7. Volunteer your time to protect the wildlife in your area.

De-Extinction Projects

mammoth de-extinct
Woolly mammoths representation. Image by April Pethybridge via Unsplash

Although the Pyrenean ibex failed to be resurrected, conservationists and scientists haven’t given up resurrecting extinct species. If you’d like to read more about this, click here!

Q1 – What is the meaning of “extinct species”?

thylacine
Photo from a Postcard of ‘Tasmanian Marsupial Wolf’ – the Thylacine. Harry Burrell, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

An extinct species is a type of organism that no longer exists anywhere on Earth. This can happen due to various reasons, such as environmental changes, natural disasters, competition with other species, or human activities.

Q2 – What is the biggest extinct species?

perucetus colossus whale
Skeletal restoration of Perucetus colossus. Missin parts are based on other basilosaurids. Ivan Iofrida, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The largest known extinct species is an early whale (Perucetus colossus) that lived during the Eocene epoch, about 38 million years ago. It is possibly the largest animal to have ever existed on Earth.

Q3 – Who killed the last dodo bird?

dodo bird de-extinct
Dodo illustration by Frederick William Frohawk, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The exact individual responsible for killing the last dodo bird is not known. However, the dodo bird went extinct in the late 17th century, and it was primarily due to a combination of habitat loss, introduction of invasive species by humans, and hunting.

Q4 – What is the strongest extinct animal?

megalodon shark scale diagram
Size comparison of Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias, 5.2 m), Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus, 9.8m) and conservative/maximum estimates of Carcharodon megalodon (15–20 m), with a human (Homo sapiens, 1.8 m). Sarina1001, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Determining the “strongest” extinct animal can be challenging due to the variety of ways strength can be measured. However, the Megalodon, an extinct species of giant shark, is often considered one of the most powerful predators in Earth’s history due to its immense size and predatory adaptations.

Conclusion

black rhino
Black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) are critically endangered. Image by David Clode via Unsplash

It is a sad reality that human activity directly affects the extinction rates of species around the globe at a rapid pace. Acknowledging environmental wrongdoings and moving forward in collective sustainability is essential.

This will ensure a delay in the extinction of species.

For more blogs featuring extraordinary wildlife, look at the top 10 cutest animals and the most endangered animals or 10 Biggest Animals In The World.

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