Extinction is a natural part of evolution. As the environment changes, species must either adapt or die off. As a result, the majority of organisms that ever walked the Earth, more than 99 percent of all species, are now extinct. However, as humans have risen to dominance, we have been changing the environment so rapidly that we are causing many species to go extinct before their time. Here some examples of large animals from around the globe that because of human actions, are now extinct like so many before them.
The Thylacine is one of the most interesting creatures that we no longer have with us. They were commonly referred to as Tasmanian Wolves or Tasmanian Tigers because of their streamlined appearance. Looking distinctly like some breed of wild dog or large cat, the Thylacine was actually a large marsupial carnivore and one of Australia and Tasmania’s fiercest. Although they were largely extinct on mainland Australia by the time European settlers arrived, their numbers remained strong on isolated islands like Tasmania. However as settlement continued, these magnificent beasts were hunted by poachers as well as those looking to protect their livestock from predation. By the twentieth century, few Thylacine remained in the wild and by 1936, the sole individual remained in captivity. It died that same year and since the species has been officially listed as extinct; however cryptozoologists remain optimistic as there have been a number of Thylacine sightings since, although none have been substantiated.
The Tarpan was a species of wild horse that once roamed the wilds of Eurasia from modern day France and Spain as far east as the heart of Russia. These animals were smaller and more robust than modern horses, although recent genetic testing has revealed that many of today’s domesticated horses may be descendents of the Tarpan genus. Tarpan were very versatile, living in both open plains and forested areas, although due to the rapid expansion of Europe following the Middle Ages, these wild horses became a rarity by the 1800’s. The remaining Tarpan were either absorbed into domesticated horse populations of the time or hunted by farmers because they would commonly destroy crops. By 1890, the Tarpan was extinct in the wild. The last wild individual was accidentally killed during an attempted capture of the animal and the last known Tarpan to walk to the Earth died in Russia in the cold of 1909.
The now extinct Quagga, a subspecies of the modern Zebra, is one of the most distinct looking creatures on record. It was distinctly zebra in shape and its head and neck bore the zebra-pattern, however their bodies were not stripped. Instead they had a brownish-tan bodies that faded and they reached the rear of the animal. Once found in great numbers across the plains of Southern Africa, Quagga were hunted for their meat, hides, sport and also because farmers were concerned that they would desecrate valuable pasture they needed for their livestock. As a result of over hunting and human encroachment, the Quagga became extremely endangered in the nineteenth century. Although efforts were launched to try and save them, by the turn of the century, the Quagga was all but extinct with only a few individuals surviving in the wild or captivity. Today however, the Quagga is officially extinct.
The Javan Tiger was a unique subspecies of Tiger that once ruled as king of the remote Indonesian island of Java. Marooned on the island thousands of years ago, the Javan Tiger began to feel pressure from human encroachment almost immediately after the island became a major trading point as the European and Asian nations began to trade by sea. By the 1950s, deforestation and poaching had killed most of the island’s tigers and scientists estimated only 25 individuals remained. Although the last verified sighting of a wild Javan tiger came in 1972, analysis of several tiger tracks from the island in 1979 concluded there could have been as many as three individuals left on the island at that point. Additionally, in the 1990s there were a number of unverified sightings leading some to speculate that there could still be an isolated population of these tigers on the western end of the island.
The fate of the Bali Tiger is almost identical to that of the Javan Tiger. Like its close relative, the Bali Tiger was once the top predator of the island of Bali. However, human encroachment and over hunting caused the population to collapse and soon the cat was extinct. The smallest of all tiger species, the Bali Tiger was nevertheless a fierce predator and they were a centerpiece of the culture of the island. Many natives and visitors considered the Bali tiger to be a destructive force and subsequently, the entire species was hunted to extinction in an attempt to cleanse the island of their evil. On September 27th 1937, the Bali Tiger was officially declared extinct when the last known specimen, a tigress was shot by hunters as a trophy. Since there have been no substantiated sightings of the Bali Tiger.
There are many actually. One that i did a project on is the Golden Toad. It went extinct pretty much directly from pollution, which caused the species to start getting infections that wiped them out.
The below link has some other animals that have not been mentioned above, but also there are many upon many more.
Two of the most famous examples of animals that became extinct due to human activity are both birds: the dodo and the passenger pigeon. The dodo was a strange-looking flightless bird with a bulbous beak indigenous to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It was a huge bird, about 3 feet tall. The dodo was not generally hunted by humans, as it meat was considered tough and not very tasty, but various animal species that accompanied human settlers to Mauritius–such as dogs, cats, and rats–made short work of the dodo. The dodo vanished from out planet sometime around 1693.
The passenger pigeon was a much smaller bird that once literally filled the skies of North America. There were billions of them, and because of their abundance, they were heavily hunted. Passenger pigeons were introduced as a cheap source of food for slaves and servants–many slaves in the South before the Civil War never ate any other kind of food. As a result of massive overhunting as well as encroachment of their habitat, the passenger pigeon collapsed as a species in the late 19th century. The last one on earth died in an Ohio zoo in September 1914.
There was a significant die off of large herbivores and carnivores around 12,000 years ago. It is still up to debate whether humans caused the death of these animals (either through hunting or disease) or if it was from an ice age. However, given that caveat, there were once some spectaular creatures roaming North America, including the saber-tooth tiger,
and the woolly mammoth
Arguably the most famous of all extinct animals is the flightless Dodo Bird, pictured here:
The Dodo went extinct in the 17th century as a result of human hunting.
The Tasmanian Tiger or Tylacine was a marisupial that is believed to now be extinct. It was a very interesting animal that had stripes like a tiger, but a pouch like a kangaroo or opossum. It was one of just 2 marsupials that had pouches in both males and females.
The last known individual died in an Australian Zoo in 1936.
The Great Auk was basically a type of penguin that went extinct around1844. This animal was hunted to extinction. When it was alive it lived in places such as Canada, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Ireland, and Great Britain.
The wooly rhino, and the Helicoprion fish are a couple other cool animals that are unfortunately now extinct.
The human race, in what is considered to be the greatest victory over disease in history, has “eliminated” smallpox. There are two cold war samples left, in Russia and at the CDC, but otherwise we have eliminated the virus through a series of vaccinations.
I hope this helped!
The Gulf Spill has nearly caused Pelicans to be in serious risk of extinction.
Various types of butterflies have also gone extinct. One of the examples is the Madeiran Large White. Its extinction was due to loss of habitat and also pollution.
Here is the Steller’s Sea Cow that was not proven to be extinct but has yet to be proven to exist.
The Zeuglodonis a very interesting animal that is believed to have lived about 40-50 million years ago. The creatures were approximately 55-75 feet long, and had skulls up to five feet in length. Though it was a sea animal, it had the bone structure for what appeared to be hind legs, suggesting that its ancestors may have been land animals. Skeletons of the animal have been found in North America and Africa. Some people believe that the Zeuglodon is not really extinct, and is currently residing in the infamous Loch Ness lake.
The Baiji River Dolphin lost habitat after China industrialized. The animal was almost completely blind, and noise pollution caused it to run into boat propellers all too often. In the 1970′s and 1980′s, about half of the population died off; then, in 1997, only 13 were found left alive in the wild. In 2006, a full search was performed, which turned up no traces left of the animal, making it extinct.
The Diprotodon was a massive wombat that once lived in Australia. It was over six and a half feet tall at the shoulder and weighed over a ton! Although it hasn’t been proven that humans drove it to extinction, it disappeared in Australia around the same time that humans first arrived.
Some people believe that Diprotodon is the inspiration for the bunyip, the legendary creature of Native Australian legends.
The Moa was a huge flightless bird native to New Zealand. It went extinct after Polynesian populations began to land in New Zealand and hunt the bird for food. The largest species of moas most likely went extinct by the late 1600s, but some smaller species may have survived as long as the 1800s. The moa was a huge bird, the largest species standing up to 10 feet tall and laying eggs up to 10 inches long. It was hunted for meat, bones for spear points, hooks, and ornaments and jewellery, and eggs that were hollowed out and used as a method for carrying water. The many varied uses of the moa were enticing, and the bird was hunted into extinction.
The Giant Kangaroo, one of the first animals to go extinct due to human poaching 45,000 years ago: http://greenanswers.com/q/165021/animals-wildlife/mammals/what-type-environment-does-giant-kangaroo-live
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