Time and tide wait for none! Well, who’s not aware of this fact? Even the Earth has never been the same. Dominated by man today, the planet was ruled by some other species in yester decades. And who knows – how long are we as humans gonna make it here!
Species come and go but what are left behind are their trials. The reasons for sudden disappearance of these long gone species are many, namely – catastrophic meteor collisions, ice age and of course there’s inexorable threat of one specifically dangerous predator and highly parasitic specie – Homo sapiens – yes, that would be me and you!
Though we didn’t do all the species in but we certainly had a hand somewhere in their extinction! So, let’s take a look at top 10 extinct species today.
1. The Dodo (Raphus cucullatus)
The poor flightless bird, Dodo was native to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately the bird was known to mankind for less than 100 years – but that’s what it took us to eradicate the specie!
Though the humans did not directly kill the stubby, round bird but our gradual demolition of their habitat along with their food sources was more than sufficient to hasten their demise. And yes, of course there were dogs, pigs and other predators which humans introduced to the desolate island to ravage and harass the poor Dodos.
A clear & unfortunate reminder of the havoc and wreck we as humans can create! What a tragedy.
2. The Dinosaurs
Ever imagined what life would have been if you had giant dinos as your pet instead of Maltese? Though long gone (even before the existence of humans) huge dinosaurs have still managed to capture the hearts of school kids throughout the world. Well all thanks to cartoons, museums adorning dino skeletons and 3D movies extolling their existence.
Surprisingly, many of the renowned dino species never even crossed each other. Stegosaurus ruled the land way before Triceratops showed up and Tyrannosaurus went extinct million of years ago before Apatosaurus came into being. And they all were gone by the time humans came into existence.
Whatever their nature or diet plan would have been dions have surely captured our hearts like no other extinct animals have!
3. Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius)
How do you manage to go from being one of the most common bird species in North America to nothing more than an unfortunate and poignant addendum in American history? So, you think that’s a tricky one there.
Hmm, not exactly if it tastes good!
Though initially hunted for their crop nuisance activities for years, things turned out far more worse, when passenger pigeon meat suddenly gained rapid popularity amongst the masses. And then again the westward-bound settlers chopped off their habitats at an alarming rate that eventually lead to their extinction.
In no less than 100 years this pigeon specie that once proudly blackened the sky as it flew in flocks suddenly experienced a troubled phase.
Martha, the last one of them is reported to have died in 1914 in a Cincinnati zoo.
4. Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis)
Nearly 3 feet tall, the great auk bird was a large one indeed. But again, the extinction of the giant bird follows a heart-rending tale.
The last one of them was executed in Scotland way back in 1840. Reason – the local villagers thought great auk was a witch? I mean seriously!
While auk was certainly not a witch, this penguin like specie was the last flightless bird in the Northern Hemisphere.
Providentially, great auks were observed in 1844 off the coast of Iceland. They were a nesting pair, but then again few fishermen hunted them for their pricey meat and bait. Not only did they kill them but ensured their extinction by crushing their lone remaining eggs. Thanks, you guys!
5. Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus)
Bearing a close resemblance to a hybrid between a dog and tiger, Tasmanian tiger was a carnivorous marsupial.
Australian native, the Tasmanian tiger was last observed on the mainland over 2,000 years ago. The specie was reportedly hunted down to extension by an indigenous population.
They were heavily hunted down, mostly by the farmers to protect their livestock, which eventually brought them down to minimalist numbers by the early 20th century. By then, efforts to protect the specie were too late.
The last one of them was caught back in 1933, who happened to die three years after in a zoo in Hobart, Australia.
6. Large Rodents (Josephoartigasia mones)
So, you’re scared of rats? Ever wondered what if largest of them (larger than the one you can even imagine) came to life?
Native to South America, the rodent lived some 2 to 4 million years ago and shared a close relation to guinea pig rather than rat. Surprisingly, the fossilized remains of the specie discovered in 1987, revealed that Josephoartigasia monesi was over 10 feet long and weighed around 1,000 pounds.
Glad rats are not that big!
7. The Saber-toothed Tiger (Smilodon)
Smilodon is by far the most renowned specie of saber-toothed cat.
This is the same cat you see in motion pictures that highlight the pre-historic times – remember the cat that gets trapped in La Brea tar pits while on a hunt for mammoths. The specie has been extinct for over 10,000 years now, but its long and sharp edged canines (believed to be used for ripping open its prey) still inspire awe!
Smilodon is said to be about the size of the modern day lion, but hundred times more robust. Since the fierce predator roamed freely on the vast grasslands and forests of South and North America, we can only be happy that we’re not living in the Ice Age
8. Baiji White Dolphin
One of the most recent specie to fall dupe to humans is Baiji White Dolphin.
Observed in the Yangtze River in China, these fresh water dolphins were nearly blind and extremely intelligent. In the year 2006, an extensive expedition search was carried out in Yangtze which lasted for six weeks. The search however was not successful in locating any Baiji – marking an end to the specie which was once an inseparable part of the river.
Baiji had fallen prey to the hunters and fishermen as numerous fishing boats equipped with their entangling gear had started to crowd the river during 1950’s and 60’s.
A report sighing way back in 2007 raised some hope of their survival, but scientists argue that even if few Baiji still exists their numbers are going to be so small so as to make them “functionally extinct” – meaning these lovable aquatic mammals are beyond comeback.
9. The Quagga
The caramel brown quagga was typical zebra specie that went extinct from the planet since the 19th century. However there are many who are still trying hard to resurrect the specie.
A South African Quagga Project has been adopting various breeding patterns amongst plains zebras in their endeavor to mimic the markings of this unique mammal. This project has been operational ever since 1987.
A native of South Africa, quagga was mainly hunted down for its meat and hide purpose. The last one of them breathed its last in 1883 in an Amsterdam zoo.
10. Steller’s Sea Cow
Unlike the land cows which graze upon grass these sea cows consumed kelp in the Bering Sea.
Relative to much smaller and beleaguered manatee, the sea cows were over 25 feet long and weighed as much as 10 tons.
They were found by the German naturalist Georg Steller in 1741, but unfortunately by the time he found them, their population was already threatened. One main reason for their extinction goes to their hunters (belonging to some indigenous population), who hunted them down mainly for food, skin and oil for lamps.
In 1768, in less than 30 years Steller had found them, the Sea cows went missing and finally extinct.