“For millions of years, nine species of large, flightless birds known as moas (Dinornithiformes) thrived in New Zealand. Then, about 600 years ago, they abruptly went extinct. Their die-off coincided with the arrival of the first humans on the islands in the late 13th century, and scientists have long wondered what role hunting by Homo sapiens played in the moas’ decline. Did we alone drive the giant birds over the brink, or were they already on their way out thanks to disease and volcanic eruptions? Now, a new genetic study of moa fossils points to humankind as the sole perpetrator of the birds’ extinction. The study adds to an ongoing debate about whether past peoples lived and hunted animals in a sustainable manner or were largely to blame for the extermination of numerous species”
“The island of Mauritius has dry and wet seasons, dodo birds gained weight at the end of the wet season and slimed down when food was scarce during the dry season of the island. This developed the dodo birds’ image as a “greedy” bird with a large appetite. Most of the birds portrayed in drawing were probably captive, overfed dodos. Because the dodo bird’s natural environment lacked any significant predators, dodos were fearless of people. This, combined with flightlessness, made them an easy prey. With combination of human hunting and becoming prey for animals brought onto the island by the explorers (i.e. dogs, cats, pigs, and rats) dodo birds became extinct in late 17th century.”
“Sibley and Monroe (Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World, 1990, p. 40) state that the characteristic habitat of C. labradorius is unknown, and that it was last recorded in 1878 (USNM specimen number 77126). They also note that it was “alleged to have bred in Labrador” and was recorded from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick south to New Jersey, and inland to Quebec. It’s not surprising that they use the word alleged since “knowledge” of these ducks breeding in Labrador — or anywhere else for that matter — apparently derives solely from the third-hand information given in the following passage in Audubon (from his section on the Pied Duck):
Although no birds of this species occurred to me when I was in Labrador, my son, John Woodhouse, and the young friends who accompanied him on the 28th of July, 1833, to Blanc Sablon, found, placed on the top of the low tangled fir-bushes, several deserted nests, which, from the report of the English clerk of the fishing establishment there, we learned to belong to the Pied Duck.”
THYLACINE (TASMANIAN TIGER)
“At one time the Thylacine was widespread over continental Australia, extending north to New Guinea and south to Tasmania. In recent times it was confined to Tasmania where its presence has not been established conclusively for more than seventy years. In Tasmania the species was best known from the north and east coast and midland plains region rather than from the mountains of the south-west. Although the precise reasons for extinction of the Thylacine from mainland Australia are not known it appears to have declined as a result of competition with the Dingo and perhaps hunting pressure from humans. The Thylacine became extinct on the Australian mainland not less than 2000 years ago. Its decline and extinction in Tasmania was probably hastened by the introduction of dogs, but appears mainly due to direct human persecution as an alleged pest.”
– See more at: http://australianmuseum.net.au/the-thylacine#sthash.8XCsrogv.dpuf
“Giant deer that once roamed the prehistoric British Isles were thought to have been wiped out towards the end of the Ice Age. But scientists have discovered that Irish elk lived on in Siberia for around 2,000 years after it was presumed they had gone extinct. Tests on bones found scattered across the frozen Russian wilderness are rewriting the evolutionary history of the animal, which stood seven feet (two metres) tall and had majestic antlers with a 10 foot (three-metre) span. Scientists have discovered that the Irish elk lived on in Siberia for around 2,000 years after it was presumed to have become extinct. It had been assumed previously the moose-like animal, which was prevalent in Ireland and parts of continental Europe, was wiped out around 10,300 years ago along with the likes of sabre-tooth cats and giant sloths. But tests carried out on remains have concluded that not only did the species travel to the other side of the world, but also survived for at least another two millennia.”
“a honeyeater (bird) found in Hawaii, now probably extinct, which had a thin curved bill and climbed about on tree trunks.”
Conservation: Apparently extinct (Ineich and Zug 1996). The first and only record of this Tongan lizard is from the early nineteenth-century report of the L’Astrolabe expedition (Dumont d’Urville 1832) when they were discovered.
Distribution: Erroneously reported from New Zealand.
Synonymy partly after BOULENGER 1887.
MITTLEMAN (1952) diagnosed the genus Tachygyia as follows: “Differs essentially from Riopa as follows: lower eyelid scaly, lacking a more or less transparent or translucent disc; frontoparietals united, interparietal reduced; limbs very robust and long, broadly overlapping when appressed”.
“The Quagga was a close relative of horses and zebras. It was a yellowish-brown zebra with stripes only on its head, neck and shoulders and with pale legs. The quagga was native to desert areas of the African continent until it was exterminated in the wild in the 1870s. The last captive quaggas died in Europe in the 1880’s. Zoos sent the request “send more quaggas”, but there were no more quaggas left alive. It had been ruthlessly hunted for meat and leather by South African farmers and settlers. When first discovered, the Quagga was simply regarded as one zebra among many and was originally considered to be the female of the Burchell Zebra as the ranges of the species overlapped and there may have been interbreeding. The Hottentots used the same name for both animals. Because the term “quagga” was used indiscriminately to mean any zebra (although “Bontequagga” was sometimes used for the Plains zebra), the true quagga was hunted to extinction without this being realised until too late.”
The Quagga Project: “DNA analysis has shown that the Quagga was not a separate species of zebra but in fact a subspecies of the Plains Zebra (Equus Quagga) The Quagga, formerly inhabited the Karoo and southern Free State of South Africa. Like other grazing mammals, Quaggas had been ruthlessly hunted. They were seen by the settlers as competitors for the grazing of their livestock, mainly sheep and goats. By selective breeding from a selected founder population of southern Plains Zebras an attempt is being made to retrieve at least the genes responsible for the Quagga’s characteristic striping pattern.”
“The extinct Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes) was a small, shiny, bright-orange toad that was once abundant in a small region of high-altitude cloud-covered tropical forests, about 30 square kilometers in area, above the city of Monteverde, Costa Rica. For this reason, it is sometimes also called the Monteverde Golden Toad, or the Monte Verde Toad.The Golden Toad was described in 1966 by the herpetologist Jay Savage. Since 1989, not a single Golden Toad has been seen anywhere in the world, and it is classified by the IUCN as an extinct species.”
In June of 1840, three sailors hailing from the Scottish island of St. Kilda landed on the craggy ledges of a nearby seastack, known as Stac-an-Armin. As they climbed up the rock, they spotted a peculiar bird that stood head and shoulders above the puffins and gulls and other seabirds.rThe scruffy animal’s proportions were bizarre—just under three feet tall with awkward and small wings that rendered it flightless, and a hooked beak that was almost as large as its head. Its black and white plumage had earned it the title the “original penguin,” but it looked more like a Dr. Seuss cartoon. The sailors watched as the bird, a Great Auk, waddled clumsily along. Agile in the water, the unusual creature was defenseless against humans on land, and its ineptitude made it an easy target “Prophet-like that lone one stood,” one of the men later said of the encounter. Four years later, the Great Auk vanished from the world entirely when fishermen hunted down the last pair on the shores of Eldey Island, off the coast of Iceland. The men spotted the mates in the distance and attacked, catching and killing the birds as they fled for safety. The female had been incubating an egg, but in the race to catch the adults, one of the fishermen crushed it with his boot, stamping out the species for good.
“The Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis) was the only parrot species native to the eastern United States. It was found from southern New York and Wisconsin to the Gulf of Mexico, and lived in old forests along rivers. It is the only species classified in the genus Conuropsis. It was called puzzi la née (“head of yellow”) or pot pot chee by the Seminole and kelinky in Chickasaw. The last known wild specimen was killed in Okeechobee County, Florida, in 1904, and the last captive bird died at the Cincinnati Zoo on February 21, 1918.”
“Nights on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean will never again be the same. The last echolocation call of a tiny bat native to the island, the Christmas Island pipistrelle (Pipistrellus murrayi), was recorded on August 26th 2009, and since then there has been only silence. Perhaps even more alarming is that nothing was done to save the species. According to a new paper in Conservation Letters the bat was lost to extinction while Australian government officials equivocated and delayed action even though they were warned repeatedly that the situation was dire. The Christmas Island pipistrelle is the first mammal to be confirmed extinct in Australia in 50 years.”
Aldo Leopold: “The [passenger] pigeon was a biological storm. He was the lightning that played between two opposing potentials of intolerable intensity: the fat of the land and the oxygen of the air. Yearly the feathered tempest roared up, down, and across the continent, sucking up the laden fruits of forest and prairie, burning them in a traveling blast of life. Like any other chain reaction, the pigeon could survive no diminution of his own furious intensity. When the pigeoners subtracted from his numbers, and the pioneers chopped gaps in the continuity of his fuel, his flame guttered out with hardly a sputter or even a wisp of smoke.” (image: “Falling Bough” by Walton Ford)
The pig-footed bandicoot was one of the very strangest of marsupials. The size of a kitten, it had long, slender limbs, the hind feet bearing a single, elongated toe like a tiny horses’ hoof, while the forefeet bore two digits resembling miniature cloven hoofs.
One can still find fragments of hatched shells – actual shell, not fossils – of the Aepyornis maximus, or Elephant Bird, on the beaches of southwest Madagascar…
met with an extinction Event in 1768. The Steller’s Sea Cow is featured in the poem “Extinction Narrative.”
drawing by Tracy Stewart
MEGATHERIUM – The Giant Ground Sloth
“Today’s sloths are really the black sheep of the sloth family,” study co-author Anjali Goswami, of the University College London earth sciences department, said in a statement.
Giant Ground Sloths grew very quickly. They are featured in the poem “The Ground Sloths at Love Canal,” published in the journal Fulcrum.
BASILOSAURUS – The first fossil of B. cetoides was discovered in the United States and was initially believed to be some sort of reptile, hence the suffix -“saurus”, but it was later found to be a marine mammal. Richard Owen wished to rename the creature Zeuglodon (“yoked tooth”), but, per taxonomic rules, the creature’s first name remained permanent.
Extinct Pennsylvania animals by Shoemaker, Henry W. (Henry Wharton), b. 1880 Published 1917
JOHN VANATTA PHILLIPS, Who, on Chatham’s Run, Clinton County, Hit a Panther With His Silk Hat and Scared the Brute Away.
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Dodo, Tasmanian tiger, Labrador duck