Natural History And Fossils

The Story Of Life On Planet Earth

What Are Recently Extinct Animals?

Recently Extinct animals are animals that were driven to extinction by man. This mostly results from hunting or deforestation. All recent extinctions have occured in the last 400 years, so real pictures do exist for some of them.

Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger)

This elusive creature was about 2m long from nose to tail and resembled a dog. However, it was infact a marsupial with stripes on its back. The Thylacine was a predator and hunted Wallabies and other mammals. It lived on the mainland about 3000 years ago but was driven off Australia by the introduction of the Dingo. Its last refuge was Tasmania. In Tasmania, it was killed rapidly and was considered a no good pest. The saying was "The Only Good Tiger Is A Dead One". It was accused of killing sheep and other livestock, which it probably did, but most were likely killed by wild dogs or foxes, the Thylacine, however, got the blame. After being shot and trapped for years and years, the numbers of Thylacines began to dwindle. It was becoming rarer and rarer, but still the killing continued. By the 1930's, Thylacines were only seen in zoos, the result of all the killing, and no attempt to breed them was made at all :(. Most zoo specimens died by 1935 and people started to realize that it was on the brink of extinction (a bit late!). There was a mad rush to go out and catch every last one and put it in the zoo, but none were found. The only Thylacine left was an individual named "Ben" in Hobart Zoo. Ben died in 1936, claiming the title as the last Tasmanian Tiger ever...

Since Ben died in 1936, many people have claimed to see the Thylacine in the wild, but these are not yet confirmed. 

Just in case you have never seen what a Thylacine looks like before, here is a real picture of one in a zoo (1930's). Please watch the video of "Ben" at Hobart Zoo (below).

 

Thylacine At Hobart Zoo

 

This video footage is of "Ben", the last Thylacine. 

The Dodo

The Dodo was a short flightless bird that ate fruit and berries, it was native to the island of Maurituous (off the coast of Madagascar) during the early 17th century. Mauritious was discovered by shipwrecked sailors about 400 years ago and was considered a paradise. There was fruit to eat and water to drink, truly a godsend for the sailors lost at sea. They then discovered that the island was inhabitant to the Dodo. At first sight they didnt know what to make of the creature and even killed it and tried to eat it over a fire, but it tasted foul. They would co-exist with the Dodo for about 40 years. After being discovered, the sailors started a civilisation on Mauritious and introduced farm animals and dogs. This spelled the end for the Dodo. After being killed and outcompeted by introduced animals, the Dodo became extinct. The Dodo is now an icon of Mauritious. However, Dodos were considered stupid, and most adult humans would have heard the expression "Dumb As A Dodo", which was not true. No REAL pictures of the Dodo exist (unlike the Thylacine, see above), but artists reconstructions have been made (see below).

 

The Great Auk

The Great Auk was a species of wild fowl that was gradually exterminated by man, the last of them being killed in 1844 on a group of islands off the southwest coast of Iceland.

In the 18th century these birds were common to the Faroes and the Iceland seas, from whence they were gradually driven to settlement after settlement until their final extinction. In 1813 alone vast numbers of them were destroyed by sailors from a Faroes craft. As if nature were conspiring with man to destroy them, one of their haunts was engulfed by the sea, following a submarine eruption.

Even in earlier times, they were ruthlessly hunted for food. In 1536 French and English vessels forced them ashore in droves before killing and then salting them down for provisions.

Although man contributed greatly towards the annihilation of the Great Auk, its habit of laying only one egg did nothing to help maintain the species.