Extinct animals – silent reproach to mankind
Once a species becomes extinct, it is gone forever. The most common cause of extinction is a sudden, serious change in a species’ habitat. Floods, fires, droughts, volcanoes, and other natural events may be causes. People also change the environment: clear forests and drain wetlands, build cities on land that animals need to survive and create harmful pollution. Some species have been hunted to extinction.
Dinosaurs first appeared on Earth about 215 million years ago. By 65 million years ago, however, they had died out. Many scientists believe that a large asteroid caused this mass extinction. It hit Earth and thick dust blocked the sun. The dinosaurs could not survive the cold temperatures. But early species of birds and mammals did survive.
About 10,000 years ago woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats disappeared.
Woolly rhinoceros (lat. Coelodonta Antiquitatis) lived 3.6 million years ago. In France, the archaeologists discovered the cave drawings depicted woolly rhinoceroses, made 30 thousand years ago. In 2014, in Siberia, a spear, made of the horn of an adult woolly rhinoceros more than 13 thousand years ago, was found.
Koala lemurs (lat. Megaladapis Edwarsi) as a species had been identified only in 1894. They lived on the island of Madagascar since the late Pleistocene to Holocene epoch. Some scientists believed megaladapis closest relatives of modern lemurs. However, there is no link between them. Megaladapis was 1.5 meters high and weighted about 75 kilograms. Probably they spent most of their life on the ground. They became extinct about 500 years ago.
Wonambi, means “rainbow snake” in the local Aboriginal language, lived in Australia. Some scientists believe that wonambi, from an evolutionary point of view, was a cross between modern lizards and snakes. It was more than 4.5 meters long. Most scientists agree that wonambi extinct 40 thousand years ago.
A bird called the dodo once lived on an island in the Indian Ocean. In the 1500s Europeans took control of the island and began to hunt it. By 1681 the dodo was extinct.
Great Auk (Latin Pinguinus Impennis) was a flightless bird that lived in the northern waters of the Atlantic Ocean close to countries such as Scotland, Norway, Canada, the USA and France. Great Auk became highly appreciated at the beginning of the XVIII century. Their expensive feathers, leather, meat, butter and eggs attracted hunters and collectors.
On July 3, 1844 Sigurdur Isleifsson along with two companions went to Eldey, where the last colony of flightless auks lived. They found a male and female that hatched the egg. Men killed birds and crushed the egg. It was the only couple of auks in the world. Last representative of the species was seen in 1852 in the waters of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland (Canada).
Humans killed millions of the passenger pigeons over many years. The last passenger pigeon, named Martha, died in a zoo in 1914.
The last Tasmanian wolf died out in the 1930s.
Schomburgk’s deer lived in Thailand. The animals were described and defined as a species in 1863. They were named in honor of the British consul in Bangkok, Sir Robert Schomburgk. According to scientists, they became extinct in the 1930s. People believed that the deer antler had magical healing powers. Therefore, the animals were victims of hunters. The last wild Schomburgk’s deer was killed in 1932, a domesticated – in 1938.
Jamaica giant galliwasp (lat. Celestus Occiduus) was seen in 1840 for the last time. Its body length was 60 centimeters. Jamaicans believed that they were poisonous animals. According to the available information, they lived in the marshes, fed on fish and fruit.
Argentavis Magnificens, magnificent silver bird, was discovered in the Miocene rocks in Argentina. It is believed that it is the largest flying bird that ever existed on Earth. Their growth reached 1.8 meters and they weighted up to 70 kilograms. The wing span was 6-8 meters. According to various estimates, they lived up to 100 years.
The Barbary lion (Panthera leo leo) lived in North Africa. The last wild Barbary Lion was killed in Morocco in 1927. It is known that during the Roman Empire they participated in gladiator games.
Laughing owl (lat. Sceloglaux Albifacies) lived in New Zealand. Last representative of the laughing owl was seen on the island in 1914.
Bluebuck (lat. Hippotragus Leucophaeus) once lived on the territory of South Africa. They ate grass and bark of trees and shrubs. In the XVIII century they were already considered an endangered species. Predators, climate change, hunters, diseases were the main factors that led to the extinction. The last bluebuck was killed by hunters in 1799.
Quagga, half zebra – half horse, became completely extinct in 1883. By 1880 the world had only one Quagga, who died in captivity on 12 August 1883 at the Zoo in Amsterdam. Incidentally, the Quagga was the first extinct animal whose DNA was studied.
Steller’s sea cow died out in 1768. They lived near the Asiatic coast of the Bering Sea. These unusual animals were found by traveler and naturalist Georg Steller in 1741. Adults reached 10 meters in length and weighted up to 4 tons. They looked like huge seals and had a massive forelimbs and tail. People killed this unusual animal because its fat.
Irish elk was the largest hoofed animal that ever existed on the planet Earth. They lived in large numbers in Eurasia. Recently found the remains of a giant deer dated 5700 BC. The Irish elk reached 2.1 meters in length and had enormous antlers – 3.65 meters in width.
Thylacine (Tasmanian devil) died out in 1936. It was the largest carnivorous marsupial.
The aurochs (Bos primigenius) was a powerful animal. They lived almost all over Europe as well as North Africa, Asia Minor and the Caucasus. The last aurochs on earth died in 1627.
Baiji, Chinese river dolphin, lived in Asian rivers. In 2006, a special expedition confirmed that baiji no longer existed on earth as a species.
In the past 200 years the world has lost many animal species. Hundreds of others are on the verge of extinction.
Unfortunately, the list of endangered animals is long.
The California condor was hunted and poisoned until it became an endangered species. Now it is protected by law.
The tiger and both African and Asian elephants are endangered. Several types of whale are also endangered. The giant panda survives only in remote parts of China and in zoos.