Sunday, September 18, 2011

Woolly Rhino

The external appearance of Woolly rhinos is known from mummified individuals from Siberia as well as cave paintings. An adult woolly rhinoceros was 3.7 metres (12 feet) in length, and 2 to 3 tons on average, but they could probably grow to 4.3 - 4.4 meters (over 14 feet) at the largest. This is more than the modern white rhino. The Woolly rhinoceros could grow up to be 2 meters tall. Two horns on the skull were made of keratin, the anterior horn being 1 metre (3 feet) in length, with a smaller horn between its eyes. It had thick, long fur, small ears, short, thick legs, and a stocky body. Cave paintings suggest a wide dark band between the front and hind legs, but it is not universal and identification of rhinoceros as woolly rhinoceros is uncertain. The woolly rhinoceros used its horns for defensive purposes and to attract mates.

As the last and most derived member of the Pleistocene rhinoceros lineage, the woolly rhinoceros was supremely well adapted to its environment. Stocky limbs and thick woolly pelage made it well suited to the steppe-tundra environment prevalent across the Palearctic ecozone during the Pleistocene glaciations. Its geographical range expanded and contracted with the alternating cold and warm cycles, forcing populations to migrate as glaciers receded. Like the vast majority of rhinoceroses, the body plan of the woolly rhinoceros adhered to the conservative morphology, like the first rhinoceroses seen in the late Eocene. A close relative, the Elasmotherium had a more southern range.

Many species of Pleistocene megafauna, like the woolly rhinoceros, became extinct around the same time period. Human and Neanderthal hunting is often cited as one cause. Other theories for the cause of the extinctions are climate change associated with the receding Ice age and the hyperdisease hypothesis.

Its shape was known only from prehistoric cave drawings until a completely preserved specimen (missing only the fur and hooves) was discovered in a tar pit in Starunia, Poland. The specimen, an adult female, is now on display in the Polish Academy of Sciences' Museum of Natural History in Kraków. The woolly rhinoceros roamed much of Northern Europe and was common in the then cold, arid desert that is southern England and the North Sea today. During Greenland Stadial 2 (the Last Glacial Maximum) the North Sea did not exist as sea levels were up to 125 metres (410 ft) lower than today.

The woolly rhinoceros co-existed with woolly mammoths and several other extinct larger mammals.

Source: Wikipedia


Pantylus is an extinct lepospondyl amphibian from the Permian period of North America.
Pantylus was probably a largely terrestrial animal, judging from its well-built legs. It was about 25 centimetres (10 in) long, and resembled a lizard with a large skull and short limbs. It had numerous blunt teeth, and probably chased after invertebrate prey.

Source: Wikipedia


Kuehneosaurus is an extinct genus of Late Triassic reptile from the United Kingdom. Measuring 72 centimetres long (2.3 feet), it had "wings" formed from ribs which jutted out from its body by as much as 14.3 cm, connected by a membrane which allowed it to slow its descent when jumping from trees. It is a member of a family of gliding reptiles, the Kuehneosauridae, within the larger group Lepidosauromorpha, which also contains modern lizards and tuatara.
Unlike its longer "winged" relative Kuehneosuchus (which may be a species of the same genus or represent a different sexual morph), aerodynamic studies have shown that Kuehneosaurus was probably not a glider, but instead used its elongated ribs to parachute from the trees. A study by Stein et al. in 2008 found that its parachuting speed, descending at a 45-degree angle, would be between 10 and 12 metres per second. Pitch was controlled by lappets (wattle-like flaps of skin) on the hyoid apparatus, as in the modern gliding lizard Draco.
Source: Wikipedia

Lesser Bilby

Since its discovery in 1887, the species was rarely seen or collected and remained relatively unknown to science. In 1931 Finlayson encountered many of then near Cooncherie Station, collecting 12 live specimens. Although according to Finlayson this animal was abundant in that area, these were the last Lesser Bilbies to be collected alive.
The last specimen ever found was a skull picked up below a Wedge-tailed Eagle's nest in 1967 at Steele Gap in the Simpson Desert, North West Territorry. The bones were estimated at being under 15 years old.
Indigenous Australian oral tradition suggests that this species may have possibly survived into the 1960s.
The decline in numbers of the Lesser Bilby and ultimately its extinction was attributed to several different factors. The introductions of foreign predators like the cat and fox, being hunted for food by native Australians, competition with rabbits for food, changes in the fire regime and the degradation of habitat have all been blamed for the extinction of this species. However Jane Thornback and Martin Jenkins suggested in their book that the vegetation in the main part of its range remained intact, with little evidence of cattle or rabbit grazing and point to cats and foxes as the most likely cause of the extinction of the lesser bilby.
Source: Wikipedia

Steller’s Sea Cow ( Hydrodamalis gigas)


In 1741, the  St. Peter,  captained by Vitus Bering, departed from Kamchatka. The mission was to find an eastern passage to North America. On board was a 32-year-old German by the name of Georg Wilhelm Steller, who was the ship’s offi cial mineralogist. Steller also happened to be a physician and a very keen naturalist. His journey on the ship through the Bering Sea would be a remarkable one, on which he would make many zoological discoveries. Steller diligently documented everything he saw, and most of what we know about Steller’s sea cow is thanks to the notes he and a crew mate, Sven Waxell, made in their journals.  

The sea cows were observed around Bering Island and Copper Island, where they could be observed floating among and feeding on the vast marine forests of kelp that grew in the shallows around these islands. Steller’s observations give us an insight into how this animal lived and what it looked like. Steller’s sea cow was a huge animal and one of the biggest creatures to have become extinct in very recent times. It was very closely related to the dugongs and manatees, the unusual marine animals found in tropical rivers, estuaries, and shallow marine habitats around the world, but it was very much larger. Adults could grow to around 8 m, and the great bulk of the animal suggests weight in excess of 4,000 kg—possibly over 8,000 kg. They were gentle animals that apparently spent their time grazing on kelp—leaving great mounds of the seaweed washed up on the shore—and snoozing. In place of teeth, they had a bony ridge in their upper and lower jaws to grind the fibrous algae, and their forelimbs were stout flippers, which the animals could use to provide purchase on the rocky seabed when they were feeding in the very shallow coastal water. The animals’ skin was rugged, thick, and black, and Steller likened it to the bark of an old tree. The downfall of Steller’s sea cow was its flesh—a valuable commodity to the crew of the  St. Peter,  who were shipwrecked on Bering Island. Not only were these huge marine animals slow moving and gentle, but they also lived in family groups and appear to have been very curious. Steller observed them investigating the small boats of men who carried guns and spears to shoot and stab them. In what was a very wasteful strategy, the wounded animals were allowed to swim off   in the hope that the surf and tide would bring them ashore. Often this was not the case, and the moribund animal would simply die and sink. The animals that were landed were butchered, and although the flesh had to be boiled for quite some time, it was very similar to beef in taste. When the survivors of the  St. Peter  were rescued along with barrels of Steller’s sea cow meat, it was not long before whalers, fishermen, and hunters, attracted to the area for the bounteous amount of wildlife, turned their attention to these gentle animals to nourish them on their expeditions. Not only did they eat the meat and fat of this animal, but the oil from its blubber was also coveted because it gave off   little smoke and odor when it was burned. The skin was processed to make a range of leather goods.  

It has been suggested that even when Steller first observed the sea cow in 1741, it was already rare, its populations reduced to a fraction of their former strength by human hunting over thousands of years. Indeed, bones and fossils show that this species lived along much of the North Pacific coast, from Baja northward and down to northern Japan. What Steller discovered were the last populations of this impressive animal, which had survived in a remote, inhospitable area. As it was such a large animal, it is very likely that Steller’s sea cow was a slow breeder, a fact that made it even more vulnerable to the eff  ects of overhunting. Whatever the state of the population of this animal when it was discovered, we know that by 1768, 27 years after it was described by Steller, it was extinct. It is possible that a few individuals survived in the shallow waters of other islands in the Bering Sea, but an expedition in the late eighteenth century did not find any sea cows. Even today, some people cling to the hope that Steller’s sea cow survived into the modern day, with claims of sightings around the islands in the Bering Sea. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that such a large animal, which spent so much of its time at the surface, has escaped detection in an increasingly crowded world. Twenty-seventy years is an amazingly short amount of time for an animal to be wiped out, and it shows just how relentless humans can be in their extermination of other creatures. 

Source: Wikipedia

Labrador Duck

The Labrador Duck was also known as a Pied Duck, a vernacular name that it shared with the Surf Scoter and theCommon Goldeneye (and even the American Oystercatcher), a fact that has led to difficulties in interpreting old records of these species, and also as Skunk Duck. Both names refer to the male's striking white/black piebald coloration. Yet another common name was Sand Shoal Duck, referring to its habit of feeding in shallow water. The closest evolutionary relatives of the Labrador Duck are apparently the scoters (Melanitta) (Livezey, 1995).

The extinction of the Labrador Duck is still not fully explained. Although hunted for food, this duck was considered to taste bad, would rot quickly and fetched a low price. Consequently, it was not sought much by hunters. However, it is thought that the eggs may have been over-harvested, and it may have been subject to depredations by the feather trade in its breeding area as well. Another possible factor in the bird's extinction was the decline in mussels and other shellfish on which they are believed to have fed in their winter quarters, due to growth of population and industry on the Eastern Seaboard. Although all sea ducks readily feed on shallow-water molluscs, no Western Atlantic bird species seems to have been as dependent on such food as much as the Labrador Duck (Bangs in Phillips, 1926).

Source: Wikipedia


The Huia was found throughout the North Island before humans arrived in New Zealand. The Māori arrived around 800 years ago, and by the arrival of European settlers in the 1840s, habitat destruction and hunting had reduced the bird's range to the southern North Island. However, Māori hunting pressures on the Huia were limited to some extent by traditional protocols. The hunting season was from May to July when the bird's plumage was in prime condition, while a rāhui (hunting ban) was enforced in spring and summer. It was not until European settlement that the Huia's numbers began to decline severely, due mainly to two well-documented factors: widespread deforestation and overhunting.

Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Privacy Policy for

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011


The weirdest species the team has found in the Red Beds is the ?Boomerang Head,? or, as it's officially known, the species Diplocaulus, meaning "two tailed," a reference to its double-spined tail bones.

It has an extrememly odd-looking body, with a flattened body and legs. The head, however, is pulled out to the sides in the shape of a boomerang - so extremely that by adulthood, the head could be 4 to 6 times wider than it was long. It was armor plated as well, with extremely strong jaws.

Some scientists contend that this shape may have helped Diplocaulus glide through the water - but the flattened lower body could not have contained the muscles of a strong swimmer. It's much more likely that this was an ambush predator, who waited unseen on the bottom of a murky river until unwary prey came along.

It's also possible that the skull served as a defensive mechanism - in which Diplocaulus may have used the points of its head as sideways horns to punch with - or as an aid for mating. Since Diplocaulus' eyes were on the top of its head, finding and impressing a mate by sight would be near impossible. So, a larger skull makes a love connection much more likely.

Source: Wikipedia

Giant Anteaters

Giant anteaters lap up thousands of ants and termites every day with their long tongues, but never destroy the insects' hills or mounds.

Anteaters are edentate animals?they have no teeth. But their long tongues are more than sufficient to lap up the 35,000 ants and termites they swallow whole each day.

The anteater uses its sharp claws to tear an opening into an anthill and put its long snout and efficient tongue to work. But it has to eat quickly, flicking its tongue up to 160 times per minute. Ants fight back with painful stings, so an anteater may spend only a minute feasting on each mound. Anteaters never destroy a nest, preferring to return and feed again in the future.

These animals find their quarry not by sight?theirs is poor?but by smell.

Anteaters are found in Central and South America, where they prefer tropical forests and grasslands. There are four different species which vary greatly in size. The silky anteater is the size of a squirrel, while the giant anteater can reach 7 feet (2.1 meters) long from the tip of its snout to the end of its tail. Some anteaters, the tamandua and the silky anteater, ply their trade in the trees. They travel from branch to branch in search of tasty insects.

Anteaters are generally solitary animals. Females have a single offspring once a year, which can sometimes be seen riding on its mother's back.

Anteaters are not aggressive but they can be fierce. A cornered anteater will rear up on its hind legs, using its tail for balance, and lash out with dangerous claws. The giant anteater's claws are some four inches (ten centimeters) long, and the animal can fight off even a puma or jaguar.

Source: Wikipedia


Platybelodon ("flat-spear tusk") was a genus of large herbivorous mammal related to the elephant (order Proboscidea). It lived during the Miocene Epoch, about 15-4 million years ago, and ranged over Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. Although it thrived during its time, it did not survive past the Miocene.

Source: Wikipedia

Great Auk

The Great Auk was the only species in the genus Pinguinus, flightless giant auks from the Atlantic, to survive until recent times, but is extinct today. It was also known as garefowl, or penguin.

Standing about 75 centimetres or 30-34 inches high and weighing around 5 kg, the flightless Great Auk was the largest of the auks. It had white and glossy black feathers. In the past, the Great Auk was found in great numbers on islands off eastern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Ireland and Great Britain, but it was eventually hunted to extinction. Remains found in Floridan middens suggest that at least occasionally, birds ventured that far south in winter as recently as in the 14th century.

Source: Wikipedia

Irish Deer

The Irish Elk or Giant Deer, was the largest deer that ever lived. It lived in Eurasia, from Ireland to east of Lake Baikal, during the Late Pleistocene and early Holocene. The latest known remains of the species have been carbon dated to about 5,700 BC, or about 7,700 years ago. The Giant Deer is famous for its formidable size (about 2.1 meters or 7 feet tall at the shoulders), and in particular for having the largest antlers of any known cervid (a maximum of 3.65 meters/12 feet from tip to tip and weighing up to 90 pounds).

Discussion of the cause of their extinction has still focused on the antlers (rather than on their overall body size), which may be due more to their impact on the observer than any actual property. Some have suggested hunting by man was a contributing factor in the demise of the Irish Elk as it was with many prehistoric megafauna, even assuming that the large antler size restricted the movement of males through forested regions or that it was by some other means a "maladaptation". But evidence for overhunting is equivocal, and as a continental species, it would have co-evolved with humans throughout its existence and presumably have adapted to their presence.

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Upland Moa

The Lesser Megalapteryx or Upland Moa (Megalapteryx didinus) was a species of ratite bird endemic to New Zealand. Ratites are flightless birds with a sternum without a keel. They also have a distinctive palate. The origin of these birds is becoming clearer as it is now believed that early ancestors of these birds were able to fly and flew to the southern areas that they have been found in. It was the last moa species to become extinct, vanishing around 1500; possibly, some isolated populations managed to persist until about the early 19th century.

Source: Wikipedia

Poko Noctuid Moth

The Poko Noctuid Moth (Agrotis crinigera) was a moth in the Noctuidae family. It is now an extinct species.

It was endemic to Maui, Hawaii and Oahu islands, Hawaii, United States. It was said to be sometimes very abundant in the 19th century, occurring in thousands and mostly found close to the sea-level. Its caterpillar was known as the Larger Hawaiian Cutworm .

The last living moths were seen in 1926. Five specimens have been preserved in the British Museum collection.

The larvae have been recorded on various garden plants (especially legumes), beans, corn, cowpea, Datura, grasses, peas, Portulaca, Sida and sugarcane.

Source: Wikipedia


Some moa-nalo fossils have been found to contain traces of mitochondrial DNA which were compared to living duck species in order to establish their place in the duck family, Anatidae (Sorenson et al., 1999). Contrary to the expectations of some scientists, the moa-nalo were not related to the large geese (Anserinae) but instead the dabbling ducks of the genus Anas, which includes the mallard. Indeed, the present DNA analysis' resolution is not high enough to determine their relationships to different species of Anas, but biogeography strongly suggests that their closest living relative is the widespread Pacific Black Duck.[citation needed]

From the DNA sequences it has been estimated that the ancestors of the moa-nalo reached the Hawaiian Islands about 3.6 million years ago, by which time the genus Anas was already distributed worldwide. There they increased in size, but must have retained the ability to fly until they had spread to the newer islands. They seem to have lost the power of flight by the time the main island of Hawaiʻi had emerged from the sea (400,000 years ago); there, their niche was filled by one or two species of now extinct giant Branta goose presumably related to the surviving Nēnē.

Source: Wikipedia

Japanese Wolves

Wolves were common in Japan until the end of the 19th century. There were two kinds: the Japanese wolf, which ranged across Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku; and the Ainu wolf, which ranged across Hokkaido and was revered by the Ainu as a howling God. Both kinds of wolf are now extinct.

Japanese wolves were smaller than wolves found on the Asian mainland. They sometimes had yellow fur and tails with rounded tips. Their main prey was deer. Most scientists regard them as a subspecies of wolf found in Eurasia and North America. Others regarded them as a completely different species.

Wolves were never vilified in children's stories in Japan like they were in the West. In fact wolves were deeply revered. Shinto shrines sometimes featured them a guardian gods, farmers worshiped them as deities and gamblers carried wolf fangs for good luck. People who lived in the mountains where wolves were most often seen called the animals “mountain dogs.” Many of these people worshiped wolf spirits as protectors of crops from hares, deer and other pests.

Source: Wikipedia


The tamaraw, a type of small wild buffalo, has always inhabited only one island in the Philippines. Until the 1900s, its natural habitat was largely untouched, but when the island became more accessible for humans the tamaraw population declined. Hunting, habitat loss and disease are the three main reasons for the population decline. An assessment for the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List in 2008 classified the tamaraw as critically endangered. Its population is estimated at less than 200, making it one of the world's rarest mammals.

Source: Wikipedia

Northern Cricket Frog

The northern cricket frog is one of New York State's smallest vertebrates. This frog is an aquatic species, and although it belongs to the tree-frog family, Hylidae, which includes such well-known climbers as the spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) and gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor), it does not climb very much. It is, however, among the most agile of leapers and can jump surprisingly long distances (5-6 feet) for its small size.

Adults average only 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length; the male is usually smaller than the female. Cricket frogs exhibit a myriad of patterns and combinations of black, yellow, orange or red on a base of brown or green. Distinguishing characteristics are small size, dorsal warts, a blunt snout, a dark triangular-shaped spot between the eyes, and a ragged, longitudinal stripe on the thigh. The webbing on the hind foot is extensive, reaching the tip of the first toe and the next to last joint of the longest toe.

This frog was named for its breeding call, which sounds very much like the chirp or trill of a cricket, "gick, gick, gick...," repeated for 20 or more beats. The sound has been likened to two pebbles being clicked together, slowly at first, then picking up in speed.

This frog, which may be reproductively active for 3-10 years, is one of the last frogs in the northern part of its range to come into full chorus in New York. Breeding occurs from June to July. A single female may lay several dozen filmy egg masses on aquatic vegetation, each containing 5-10 eggs. In about 4 days, tadpoles with black-tipped tails emerge. They develop relatively slowly, feeding mostly on algae and zooplankton, until transforming into sub-adults by mid-September, often at a length as small as 5/8 inch (16 mm). It is generally believed that the cricket frog spends the coldest winter months burrowed in muck or peat below the frost line, although there is evidence in New York that some individuals may overwinter in upland sites.

Source: Wikipedia

Eastern Mud Turtle

The mud turtle is a small, nondescript reptile, measuring 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm). The carapace (upper shell) is olive to dark brown to almost black, patternless, smooth and keelless. It has only 11 marginal scutes (plates) rather than the 12 found on most turtles. The plastron (lower shell) is yellow to brown, double-hinged, with 11 plates. Males have a well-developed, blunt spine at the tip of the tail and rough scaly patches on the inside of the hind legs.

Most of the life history information is based on studies conducted at the southern end of the range. Breeding occurs soon after the turtles leave hibernation, which in New York occurs from late April to May. In June, the female digs a 3-5 inch cavity in vegetative debris or in sandy loam soil, where she deposits 2-6 eggs. In the south, three clutches are typically laid each year, but in New York, one clutch is most likely. The eggs incubate for an average of 76 days, but may overwinter in the nest. Muskrat and beaver lodges are occasionally used as nest sites. Females reportedly reach sexual maturity in 5-8 years; males require only 4-7 years. In New York, though, sexual maturity may take 8-11 years.

Source: Wikipedia

Tomah Mayfly

The Tomah mayfly has sometimes been referred to as a living fossil. Nymphs have greatly expanded, wing-like flanges on the abdomen, which are reminiscent of characteristics of fossil mayflies from the Carboniferous era. These large abdominal flanges, as well as small bumps on the thorax (midsection) of both nymphs and adults, distinguish the Tomah mayfly from all other mayflies. It is also an unusually large mayfly, measuring nearly an inch in length. This species is the only representative of its genus in the world.

Tomah mayflies complete their life cycles in a single year. Eggs are laid in the stream channel during June, and the larvae, or nymphs, hatch the following November or December. The immature mayflies grow slowly beneath the ice, feeding on decomposing vegetation and algae. After snowmelt in March or April, the nymphs migrate from the stream channel to the adjacent inundated floodplain. Here they become predaceous and feed on other species of mayfly nymphs. This predatory behavior is highly unusual for mayflies, most of which feed on dead plant material. In the floodplain, the nymphs grow rapidly.

During the last two weeks of May, the nymphs molt to the final stage of larval development. Finally, in late May and early June, they crawl out of the water onto an upright stem or leaf and molt to the winged subadult form. This "hatching" period occurs mainly during the late morning and early afternoon hours, and the population emerges over a period of about 10 days. The newly emerged subadults then fly to the forest canopy along the stream, and in about 3-4 days molt to the final adult stage. The adults live from 1-9 days, during which mating and egg laying take place over the stream in the early evenings. They do not feed as adults. Female Tomah mayflies have the ability to reproduce parthenogenetically - that is, they do not require a male to fertilize their eggs. Young produced in this manner are identical genetic copies of their mother.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shortnose Cisco

The Shortnose Cisco was endemic to lakes Huron, Michigan and Ontario. However, it has not been recorded since 1964 in Lake Ontario, 1982 in Lake Michigan and 1985 in Lake Huron, and is, therefore, considered extirpated (no longer exists in the wild). It will be considered extinct only after 50 years has passed since it was last recorded.

Very little is known about the habitat preferences and life history of the Shortnose Cisco. It was a deepwater fish that lived in a clear, cold-water environment all year long. It has been collected in water depths ranging from 22 to 110 m. The Shortnose Cisco was the only known spring-spawning cisco in the lakes where it occurred and likely migrated to deep water for spawning. Sexual maturity was reached at two to three years. The maximum age was eleven years for females and nine years for males. It was prey for Burbot (Lota lota) and deepwater forms of Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush).

Source: Wikipedia

Longjaw Cisco

The longjaw cisco (Coregonus alpenae) was one of several species of deepwater whitefish that was an important part of the smoked fish industry in the Great Lakes. It was known to occur in Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Erie. Extensive over-fishing and increased lake pollution led to a population crash in the first half of the 20th Century. The cisco was further decimated by sea lamprey predation and habitat degradation, and has not been seen in Lakes Huron and Erie since the 1950's. The last collection in Lake Michigan was in 1967, at which time the species was listed as endangered under the ESPA. In 1983, the FWS declared
the longjaw cisco extinct and took it off the endangered species list (48 FR 39942).

Source: Wikipedia

Harelip Sucker

The harelip sucker has not been seen anywhere in over 100 years but once was a species found in Ohio and was apparently abundant in some locations. It was similar in appearance to black or golden redhorse but no accurate coloration description of a live individual exists. They did differ by having a very small mouth with thin lips and on the lower jaw the lips were completely separated into two lobes.

There is very little known about this species that went extinct over 100 years ago. In Ohio there are three records of its capture. In April of 1878 one was captured in the Scioto River near Columbus, on August 8th 1893 "many" were collected in the Blanchard River near Ottawa, and lastly on August 9th 1893 one was captured in the Auglaize River near Cloverdale. A couple of these fish are still preserved as a record of a species that no longer exist. Little is known about the habitat preference of this species but an account of their capture mentions they were found in areas with a bedrock substrate. It is also thought they may have fed by sight and must have required extremely clear clean water.

Source: Wikipedia

Deepwater Cisco

The Deepwater Cisco (Coregonus johannae) was one of the largest ciscoes in the Great Lakes. It averaged 30 cm long and about 1.0 kilogram in weight. It was difficult to distinguish from other ciscoes and was possibly the same species as the Shortjaw Cisco (Coregonus zenithicus). The Deepwater Cisco was distinguished by usually having less than 33 gill rakers, relatively long pectoral fins, and unpigmented jaws. It was a silvery colour with a pink or purple lustre and a green or blue back. It spawned in August and September, earlier than most other ciscoes and, because of its large size, the Deepwater Cisco was heavily fished commercially.

Source: Wikipedia

Blue Pike

The blue pike was an endemic fish of the Great Lakes region in the United States and Canada. It was once commonly found in the waters of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and the Niagara River. The blue pike preferred cool, clear waters, living in deep water in summer, and switching to nearshore waters as they cooled and became less murky in the winter.

The blue pike was pursued intensely by commercial and sport fishers, who together landed a billion pounds of the fish between 1885 and 1962. At times, the blue pike made up more than 50 percent of the commercial catch in Lake Erie.

At the same time the fishing industry was growing in the Great Lakes, the number of Euroamerican settlers in the region was increasing as well. With the increasing human population came increased habitat degradation. The settlers drained marshes and wetlands, built dams in tributary rivers, and caused large increases in the amount of pollution and sediment that entered the lakes.

All of these actions contributed to the deterioration of the cool, clear habitat needed by the blue pike. During the 1900s, several non-native species of fish were introduced to the Great Lakes, including the sea lamprey, alewife, and rainbow smelt. These contributed to the decline of the blue pike through predation and competition.

The population crashed in 1958, but the blue pike lingered on until it became extinct in 1970.

In the same general time period, three other species of fish endemic to the Great Lakes also disappeared. These were the deepwater cisco (C. johannae) in the 1950's, native to Lake Huron and Lake Michigan; the blackfin cisco (Coregonus nigripinnis) in the 1960s, native to all of the Lakes except Erie; and the longjaw cisco (C. alpenae) in the 1970's, native to Lakes Erie, Huron and Michigan.

Each of these species succumbed to the cumulative effects of overexploitation by fishers, pollution, siltation and other forms of habitat degradation due to development, and predation and competition from non-native species.

Source: Wikipedia

Heath Hen

The Heath Hen (Tympanuchus cupido cupido), a small wild fowl, was a relative of the prairie chicken. It was once considered quite tasty and was rather easy to kill. Prior to the American Revolution, the heath hen was found in the eastern United States from Maine to Virginia.Expanding human populations in colonies caused great reductions in heath hen populations. By the 1870s the only heath hens left, occupied a tiny island called Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. In 1907 there were only 50 heath hens left on Martha's Vineyard. The following year a 1600-acre sanctuary was established for their protection.

Protection at the sanctuary seemed to be successful. The original 50 protected birds reproduced rapidly and there were 2,000 individuals by 1915. The entire heath hen population, however, was still confined to Martha's Vineyard. It is sad to say that in 1916 a fire wiped out much of the habitat that heath hens used for breeding, the following winter was unusually harsh, and there was an influx of goshawks that fed on the heath hens, which hurt the population even more. Finally, many of the remaining heath hens fell victim to a poultry disease brought to the island by domestic turkeys. There were only 13 heath hens left by 1927 and most of these were males. The last living heath hen, the final survivor of his species, was seen on March 11, 1932. He died that year.

The last birds were wiped out by a series of relatively common, but deadly, natural events: fire, starvation, predation, and disease. But the heath hen's continued existence as a species would not have been so vulnerable to these occurrences if their populations had not been severely reduced already by human hunting. In its former range, the heath hen easily could have survived any one of these stresses, or even all of them in combination. This also shows that designating a protective zone, or prohibiting the direct killing of an endangered species, does not guarantee survival of the species.

Source: Wikipedia

Hawaiian Crow

The last Hawaiian crows were found only in one part of the Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge in Hawaii. The IUCN database entry states: "The last two known wild individuals of this species disappeared in 2002, so the species is now classified as Extinct in the Wild."

Source: Wikipedia

Holdridge's Toad

This species lived in the lower montane rainforest around the Barva volcano in Costa Rica (altitude range: 200-2,200m). It has not been seen since 1986 despite 7 consecutive years of intensive searching to August 2007. It was formerly easy to find during the breeding season - at the onset of the rainy season. In 1975, observers recorded 2,765 males visiting two pools in an 8-day period.

Source: Wikipedia

Caribbean Monk Seal ( Monachus tropicalis)

Seals, with their thick blubber, are well adapted to the chilly waters of the earth’s poles and temperate regions, but monk seals, the only truly tropical seals, buck this trend and  inhabit warm equatorial latitudes. Of the three species of monk seal, only the Mediterranean and Hawaiian monk seal are still around. The third species, the Caribbean monk seal, was last reliably sighted on Seranilla Bank, between Jamaica and Honduras, in 1952. On his Caribbean voyages in 1493, Christopher Columbus referred to the Caribbean monk seal as the sea wolf, a term historically used to describe various seal species, perhaps because of their habit of stealing fi  sh from the nets and lines of fi  shermen. Today, most of our knowledge of what this animal looked like is based on a few photographs and observational records principally from the late 1800s and early 1900s, when at least a few small colonies still existed. Caribbean monk seals were not particularly big by seal standards. Adult males reached lengths of around 2.0–2.4 m and weighted 170–270 kg, while females were slightly smaller. As seals go, this seal was said to be an attractive animal, with grizzled brown furtinged with gray on its back that faded to yellow on its underside and muzzle. Another characteristic feature of the seal was the hoodlike rolls of fat behind its head. For hauling its body out of the water, the nails on the seal’s front fl  ippers were well developed, while those on the rear fl  ippers were simpler.  

Although this species only became extinct in recent times and was captured in a few photographs, very little information was collected on its biology. As with the other seals, the  Caribbean monk seal must have been an accomplished marine predator more at home in the water than out of it. Like other monk seals, it probably had a liking for small reef fi  sh and eels as well as invertebrates such as octopi, spiny lobsters, and crabs. As for predators, the only animals in the Caribbean, other than humans, that could have dispatched a fully grown monk seal are sharks. In the water, the agility and keen senses of the adult seals would have made them diffi   cult prey for sharks, although young seals unfamiliar with sharks were probably more vulnerable.  

Like other seals, Caribbean monk seals spent a good proportion of their time in the water. The main times for spending extended periods out of the water were the molting season (when seals haul out to dry land and shed their old fur) and the breeding season. With little seasonal change in the tropics, the breeding season probably extended over several months and was therefore longer than the breeding seasons of most seals. Very little is known about the young of the Caribbean monk seal, although several pregnant females with well-developed fetuses were killed in the Triangle Keys off   the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, indicating that they gave birth to their young between early December and late June. Newborn pups were around 1 m long and 18 kg in weight and were covered in dark fur. 

What became of this Caribbean seal? The only confirmed sightings of this animal in the United States in the 1900s were sightings of a few individuals in the Dry Tortugas between 1903 and 1906 and the killing of lone individuals by fi  shermen in Key West in 1906 and 1922. The only other accounts of seals from the 1900s were off   the Yucatan Peninsula, one of which involved the killing of 200 seals in the Triangle Keys. Evidently the species had already declined to very low numbers by the early part of the twentieth century due to relentless hunting. The Caribbean and its environs also underwent intense development toward the end of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century. As there are no land predators in the Caribbean, or at least none big enough to tackle a fully grown monk seal, this animal had no innate fear of humans. Apparently it was a curious and nonaggressive beast, a fact that made it easy pickings for hunters, who killed them for their meat and blubber, which was rendered down into oil. The seals may also have had to compete with humans for their food as the burgeoning tourist trade placed greater and greater pressure on the Caribbean’s marine resources. As the human population increased in the Caribbean and demands for ocean products outstripped local supplies, fi  shermen turned to increasingly remote areas, where seals had been forced to retreat. As the seals were seen as a traditional resource and unwelcome competitors for their fi  sh, the fi  shermen likely persecuted the last remaining seals for their blubber and meat or in self-serving attempts to protect their catch. With the combination of habitat loss, hunting, and competition for food, the monk seal was pushed to extinction.

Source: Wikipedia

Thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus)


A short, black-and-white, silent film showing an unusual doglike animal pacing up and down in a zoo enclosure is a poignant reminder of the last known thylacine, known  aff  ectionately as Benjamin. The film was shot in 1933 at Hobart Zoo in Tasmania, and three years after the film was shot, Benjamin died—some say through neglect, but whatever the cause, his demise was the end of the species.

The range of the thylacine, also inaccurately known as the Tasmanian wolf or Tasmanian tiger, once encompassed the forests of New Guinea and most of Australia, as bones and other remains testify. However, at least 40,000 years ago, humans reached these lands, and the demise of the thylacine began. When European explorers first reached this part of the world, the thylacine was restricted to the island of Tasmania, and it was already quite rare. The reason for its disappearance from the mainland is a bone of contention, but Aboriginal hunting is thought to be a factor and, much later, competition with the dingoes that first found their way to Australia via Aboriginal trading with Southeast Asian people around 4,000 years ago.

From the black-and-white film and numerous photos and accounts of the thylacine, we know exactly what it looked like and some of its behavior. In appearance, it was quite doglike, but it was a marsupial, and like all marsupials, it had a pouch; however, unlike some other flesh-eating marsupials, the thylacine’s pouch opened to the rear, and it was to this cozy pocket that the young crawled after being born, fixing themselves onto one of the four teats in its confines. As its appearance suggests, the thylacine was a predator in the same vein as other large, terrestrial, mammalian carnivores, but it had some unique features. Its jaws, operated by powerful muscles, could open very wide indeed, and its muscular, relatively rigid tail, similar to a kangaroo’s, acted like a prop so the thylacine could balance quite easily on its back legs, and even hop when it needed to. We can only make educated guesses as to the animals it preyed on, but on the Australian mainland, it may have favored kangaroos and wallabies, whereas its diet on Tasmania probably consisted of just about any animal smaller than itself as well as carrion. How did the thylacine catch its prey? Again, we have to rely on accounts from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, but these vary, with some suggesting the thylacine would pursue its prey over long distances, while others report that it was an ambush predator. In Tasmania, it may have relied on both of these predatory tactics depending on the habitat in which it was hunting.

Records of the behavior of the thylacine suggest that it was active at dusk and dawn and during the night; however, this behavior may have been unnatural—a response to human persecution. During the day, thylacines built a nest of twigs and ferns in a large hollow tree or a suitable rocky crevice, and when the dusk came, they would leave these retreats in the forested hills to look for food on the open heaths.

Sadly, the thylacine’s predatory nature brought it into confl  ict with the European settlers who started to raise livestock on the productive island of Tasmania. The killing of sheep and poultry was attributed to the thylacine, even though they were rarely seen. The authorities at the time initiated a bounty scheme in which farmers and hunters could collect a reward for the thylacines they killed. Between 1888 and 1909, this bounty was £1 per thylacine, and records show that 2,184 bounties were paid out, but it is very likely that the bounty was left unclaimed on many occasions. By the 1920s, the thylacine was very rare in the wild, and the species clung to survival as a few scattered individuals in the former strongholds of its range. Although human persecution was the final blow for this animal, it was probably also suff  ering from competition with introduced dogs and the diseases they carried. Benjamin was the last known thylacine, and after 50 years with no evidence of any surviving individuals, the species was declared extinct in 1986. Many people cling to the hope that a remnant population of thylacines still survives in Tasmania. Tasmania is a large, rugged, and sparsely populated island, and there is a very faint possibility that the thylacine has somehow clung to existence. The last person to photograph a living thylacine, David Fleay, searched Tasmania with a colleague, and the evidence they found suggests that the thylacine was hanging on into the 1960s. Sightings are still reported today, not only from Tasmania, but also from mainland Australia and the Indonesian portion of New Guinea. Until a live specimen of the thylacine is presented or other irrefutable evidence is declared, we have to conclude that this enigmatic species is sadly extinct.

Source: Wikipedia

Dutch Alcon Blue Butterfly

This Dutch butterfly a subspecies of the Alcon Blue was found mainly in the grasslands of The Netherlands. While closely related species (pictured here) still exist in parts of Europe and Asia, the last Dutch Alcon Blue was seen in the wild in 1979.

Cause of extinction: Increases in farming and building had a negative impact on the Alcon Blue's habitat and caused it to lose its main food source.

Source: Wikipedia

Round Island Burrowing Boa

Native to Round Island, a tiny island off the coast of Mauritius, the Round Island Burrowing Boa preferred to live on the topsoil layers of volcanic slopes. It was once found on several other islands around Mauritius, but its population had dwindled by the 1940s, and it could only be found on Round Island after 1949. It was last seen in 1975.

Cause of extinction: The introduction of non-native species of rabbits and goats to the island destroyed vegetation and upset the boa’s habitat.

Source: Wikipedia

Spix's Macaw

Spix's Macaw, also called the Little Blue Macaw, was known for its beautiful blue feathers. While some still exist in captivity, these tiny blue birds are extinct in the wild.

Cause of extinction: Habitat destruction and illegal trapping and trade contributed to the macaw's dwindling numbers.

Source: Wikipedia

West African Black Rhinoceros

The majestic West African black rhino was declared extinct in 2006, after conservationists failed to find any in their last remaining habitat in Cameroon. The West African black rhino was one of four subspecies of rhinoceros.

Cause of extinction: Poachers hunted the rhino for its horn, which is believed by some in Yemen and China to possess aphrodisiacal powers.

Source: Wikipedia

Pyrenean Ibex

The last Pyrenean ibex died in 2000. However, a cloned ibex, created from skin samples taken from the last Pyrenean ibex, was birthed in 2009. It died shortly after birth from lung complications.

Cause of extinction: Hunting of the ibex had caused the animal's numbers to seriously dwindle and conservationists blame the Spanish government for failing to act in time to save it.

Source: Wikipedia

Madeiran Large White

The stunning Madeiran Large White butterfly was found in the valleys of the Laurisilva forests on Portugal’s Madeira Islands. The butterfly's closest relative, the Large White, is common across Europe, Africa and Asia.

Cause of extinction: Loss of habitat due to construction as well as pollution from agricultural fertilizers are two major causes of the species' decline.

Source: Wikipedia


A native of Maui, Hawaii, the Po'ouli, or Black-faced Honeycreeper, was only discovered in the 1970s. The birds inhabited the southwestern slope of Haleakala volcano. But the population declined rapidly, and by 1997 there were only three known Po'ouli left. Efforts to mate the remaining birds failed and the species was formally declared extinct seven years later.

Cause of extinction: Habitat loss, along with disease, predators and a decline in its food source — native tree snails are all seen as reasons for the bird's demise.

Source: Wikipedia

Zanzibar Leopard

One of several subspecies of leopard, the Zanzibar leopard made its home on the Zanzibar archipelago of Tanzania. It's still unclear whether this large cat is technically extinct — there are occasional unconfirmed sightings.

Cause of extinction: Locals believed the leopards were kept by witches, and aggressively hunted them. The animals were seen as evil predators that must be exterminated — and even the government was in on the campaign. In the mid-'90s there was a short-lived conservation effort but it was deemed too little, too late.

Source: Wikipedia