Since creation, thousands of animals have become extinct. Africa has lost animals such as the Atlas Bear, the only bear species native to the continent. The continent has also lost other animal species such as the Malagasy aardvark, which was native to Madagascar, the North African elephant, and the Cape lion. Asia has also lost a fair share of animals. These include the cave lion, which was wiped out in 10,000 BC, the giant tapir, which was native to China, the Formosan clouded leopard, which became extinct in the 90s and the Vietnamese Javan rhinoceros, which became extinct recently in 2010.
Europe has also lost animal species such as the Balearic Islands Cave Goat, which was native to Spain, the Cretan Dwarf Hippopotamus, which became extinct in the middle Pleistocene, the Woolly Rhinoceros, which became extinct in 10,000 BC. America has also seen animal species such as the American lion, which also roamed Mexico and Canada, the Eurasian cave lion, the Mexican horse, and the Pleistocene North American jaguar get wiped out. All these amazing animals have been wiped out for a number of reasons. The main reason is always human encroachment into the animal’s habitat.
The other chief reason is the hunting and killing of the animals. Extinction of these creatures disrupts the food chain balance. Here are the 10 most amazing and beautiful extinct animals:
10 The Baiji Dolphin
The Baiji dolphin was a freshwater fish that mainly existed in the Chinese Yangtze River. The last known Baiji dolphin, named Qiqi, died in 2002. The dolphin was also known by the names Goddess of the Yangtze, Yangtze River dolphin and whitefin dolphin. China’s industrialization is largely to blame for the extinction of the Baiji since it made large use of the river for transportation and fishing. Its extinction makes it the first known aquatic mammal species to become wiped out. The animal had a gestation period of 11 months. The males could grow up to 2.3 m long while the females could grow up to 2.5 m long.
9 The Caspian Tiger
The Caspian tiger is one of the many tiger species that have become extinct. It is also referred to as the Hyrcanian tiger or the Mazandaran tiger. The species has been extinct since 1970. Male Caspian tigers could grow up to 200 cm in length while female Caspian tigers could grow up to 180 cm with both genders weighing in at as much as 240 kg. These tigers were mainly found in the region of the Caspian Sea. They were also found in Chinese and Russian Turkestan, Afghanistan, and Iran. Together with the Siberian and Bengal tiger, the Caspian tiger was ranked as one of the largest cats worldwide.
The Quagga was a beautiful subspecies of plains zebra that has been extinct since 1883. It was mainly found in South Africa. Its uniqueness was symbolized by its limited pattern of primarily brown and white stripes on the front of its body. Its rear was mainly brown in color and didn’t have stripes. It is believed that the Quagga grouped in herds of 30 to 50 individuals and were more tame than the Burchell's zebra. As the Dutch settled in South Africa, they tamed the animal for forage while some were transferred to zoos in European countries. Attempts to prevent its extinction were unsuccessful.
7 The Tasmanian Tiger
The Tasmanian tiger is scientifically known as Thylacinus cynocephalus meaning dog-headed pouched one in Greek. It has been extinct since 1936. Before extinction, it was the biggest known carnivorous marsupial. The tiger was mainly found in continental Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. The tiger became extinct mainly because of hunting. Other factors included disease, human encroachment and the introduction of dogs. The Tasmanian tiger was an introverted, nocturnal animal. It had a rigid tail and an abdominal pouch. It was an apex predator and a close cousin to the Tasmanian devil. It is believed to have fed on kangaroos, possums, wallabies, birds and wombats.
6 The Gigantopithecus
The Gigantopithecus is an extinct ape believed to have existed one hundred thousand years ago in India, Vietnam and China. It stood up to 3 metres tall and weighed as much as 540 kgs, making them the largest apes to have ever existed. It is believed to have walked on all fours just like the modern ape and had thick jaws that were deep. Its diet included sturdy, fibrous food such as bamboo. The Gigantopithecus included three subspecies, namely G. blacki, G. bilaspurensis, and G. giganteus. They were so large that you would think of them as King Kongs.
The Moa became extinct in the 1500s. It was a group of nine flightless birds that were mainly found in New Zealand. The largest of the species reached 3.6 metres tall and weighed about 500 pounds. Before Polynesians settled in this country, Moa numbers peaked at 58,000, but through hunting, these numbers dwindled until the bird became extinct. Surprisingly, it only took less than a hundred years to fully wipe them off the face of the earth. They fed on fibrous twigs, leaves and swallowed gizzard stones. The Moa is a close relative to the Australian emu, the cassowary, and the Kiwi.
4 The Irish Elk
One of the biggest deer species ever, the Irish Elk became extinct some 7,700 years ago. It is only second to the Alaskan Moose, which is the largest deer that has ever walked on earth. Although it carries the name, the Irish Elk was not exclusive to Ireland. It stood at 2.1 metres tall and weighed approximately 1,500 pounds. Another feature that makes the Irish Elk unique is the size of its antlers. Scientists believe that the animal’s antlers would span a gigantic 2.7 metres across and would weigh over eighty pounds. Human hunting has been suspected highly as the cause of the animal’s extinction.
For those with a phobia of snakes, we recommend skipping this entry. Titanoboa is the largest, heaviest and longest snake ever to live. It existed some 60 million years ago and neither the anaconda nor the python come close to its size. It had a total length of 12.8 metres and weighed in at an outstanding 1,135 kg. In comparison, today’s largest snake – the anaconda – has a total length of 5.71 metres and weighs in at 227 kg. On the other hand, the python weighs in at 140 kgs and has a total length of 7 metres. Not even close! The snake was mainly found in La Guajira, Colombia.
2 Ivory-billed Woodpecker
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker lived primarily in southeastern United States forests and was one of the biggest woodpeckers. However, due to human encroachment and hunting, the animal became extinct in 1994. In fact, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the animal as critically endangered. Multiple reports of sightings of these birds surfaced in the 2000s, but no conclusive confirmations were made of its existence. The bird grew to a length of between 48 to 53 cm, and weighed about 450 to 570 g. It had a wingspan of about 76 cm. It primarily fed on thick hardwood swamps and pine forests.
1 Golden Toad
Before its extinction in 1989, the golden toad primarily existed in Monteverde, Costa Rica. As such, it also goes by the name golden toad of Monteverde. The last sighting of the golden toad was in 15 May 1989, and ever since, no other golden toad has been seen. Widespread habitat loss and the chytrid fungus are responsible for wiping out this amazing creature. They grew up to 5 cm long and their lifespan was not known. They featured a bright and shiny skin color. Jay Savage, the herpetologist who spotted them for the first time, was so mesmerized by their look that he thought someone had dipped them in enamel paint.