1 Extinct animalsThe extinction of species has always been a natural part of evolution. Thefossil record shows that since life originated about four billion years ago thevast majority of species that have existed are now extinct. Extinct speciesoutnumber living ones by a factor of perhaps a thousand to one.Scientists have identified five extinction events in Earths history, withsome so severe that more than 90 percent of all life forms were killed off.The last and most famous extinction was the Cretaceous-Tertiary eventsome 63 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs and allowed the riseof mammals. It is thought to have been caused by an asteroid hitting Earth. 11 Most Amazing Extinct Animals Tyrannosaurus Rex (extinct 65 million years ago)[Wiki]Tyrannosaurus rex was one of the largest land carnivores of alltime,measuring up to 43.3 feet long, and 16.6 ft tall, with an estimated massthat goes up to 7 tons. Like other tyrannosaurids, Tyrannosaurus was abipedal carnivore with a massive skull balanced by a long, heavy tail.Relative to the large and powerful hindlimbs, Tyrannosaurus forelimbswere small and they retained only two digits.Fossils of T. rex have been found in North American rock formations datingto the last three million years of the Cretaceous Period at the end of theMaastrichtian stage, approximately 68.5 to 65.5 million years ago; it wasamong the last dinosaurs to exist prior to the Cretaceous-Tertiaryextinction event. More than 30 specimens of T. rex have been identified,some of which are nearly complete skeletons. Some researchers havediscovered soft tissue as well. The abundance of fossil material has allowedsignificant research into many aspects of its biology, including life historyand biomechanics.
2 Quagga: half zebra, half horse (extinct since 1883)[Wiki]One of Africas most famous extinct animals, the quagga was a subspeciesof the plains zebra, which was once found in great numbers in SouthAfricas Cape Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State. Itwas distinguished from other zebras by having the usual vivid marks on thefront part of the body only. In the mid-section, the stripes faded and thedark, inter-stripe spaces became wider, and the hindquarters were a plainbrown. The name comes from a Khoikhoi word for zebra and isonomatopoeic, being said to resemble the quaggas call.The quagga was originally classified as an individual species, Equusquagga,in 1788. Over the next fifty years or so, many other zebras were describedby naturalists and explorers. Because of the great variation in coat patterns(no two zebras are alike), taxonomists were left with a great number ofdescribed "species", and no easy way to tell which of these were truespecies, which were subspecies, and which were simply natural variants.Long before this confusion was sorted out, the quagga had been hunted toextinction for meat, hides, and to preserve feed for domesticated stock. Thelast wild quagga was probably shot in the late 1870s, and the last specimenin captivity died on August 12, 1883 at the ArtisMagistra zoo inAmsterdam.Because of the great confusion between different zebra species, particularlyamong the general public, the quagga had become extinct before it wasrealized that it appeared to be a separate species. The quagga was the firstextinct creature to have its DNA studied. Recent genetic research at theSmithsonian Institution has demonstrated that the quagga was in fact not aseparate species at all, but diverged from the extremely variable plainszebra.Thylacine: the Tasmanian Tiger (extinct since 1936)[Wiki]The Thylacine was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of moderntimes. Native to Australia and New Guinea, it is thought to have becomeextinct in the 20th century. It is commonly known as the Tasmanian
3Tiger(due to its striped back), and also known as the Tasmanian Wolf, andcolloquially the Tassie (or Tazzy) Tiger or simply the Tiger. It was the lastextant member of its genus, Thylacinus, although a number of relatedspecies have been found in the fossil record dating back to the earlyMiocene.The Thylacine became extinct on the Australian mainland thousands ofyears before European settlement of the continent, but survived on theisland of Tasmania along with a number of other endemic species such asthe Tasmanian Devil. Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties isgenerally blamed for its extinction, but other contributory factors may havebeen disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment into itshabitat. Despite being officially classified as extinct, sightings are stillreported.Stellers Sea Cow: the defenseless beast (extinct since1768) [Wiki]Formerly found near the Asiatic coast of the Bering Sea, it was discoveredin in 1741 by the naturalist Georg Steller, who was traveling with theexplorer Vitus Bering. The sea cow grew up to 7.9 meters (25.9 ft) long andweighed up to three tons, much larger than the manatee or dugong. Itlooked somewhat like a large seal, but had two stout forelimbs and a whale-like tail. According to Steller, "The animal never comes out on shore, butalways lives in the water. Its skin is black and thick, like the bark of an oldoak..., its head in proportion to the body is small..., it has no teeth, but onlytwo flat white bones—one above, the other below". It was completely tame,according to Steller. Fossils indicate that Stellers Sea Cow was formerlywidespread along the North Pacific coast, reaching south to Japan andCalifornia. Given the rapidity with which its last population was eliminated,it is likely that the arrival of humans in the area was the cause of itsextinction elsewhere as well. There are still sporadic reports of sea cow-likeanimals from the Bering area and Greenland, so it has been suggested thatsmall populations of the animal may have survived to the present day. Thisremains so far unproven.
4 Irish Deer: the largest deer that ever lived (extinct about 7,700years ago) [Wiki - Photo: (c) The Field Museum, CK1T]The Irish Elk or Giant Deer, was the largest deer that ever lived. It lived inEurasia, from Ireland to east of Lake Baikal, during the Late Pleistoceneand early Holocene. The latest known remains of the species have beencarbon dated to about 5,700 BC, or about 7,700 years ago. The Giant Deeris famous for its formidable size (about 2.1 meters or 7 feet tall at theshoulders), and in particular for having the largest antlers of any knowncervid (a maximum of 3.65 meters/12 feet from tip to tip and weighing upto 90 pounds).Discussion of the cause of their extinction has still focused on the antlers(rather than on their overall body size), which may be due more to theirimpact on the observer than any actual property. Some have suggestedhunting by man was a contributing factor in the demise of the Irish Elk as itwas with many prehistoric megafauna, even assuming that the large antlersize restricted the movement of males through forested regions or that itwas by some other means a "maladaptation". But evidence for overhuntingis equivocal, and as a continental species, it would have co-evolved withhumans throughout its existence and presumably have adapted totheirpresence. Caspian Tiger: the third largest (extinct since 1970)[Wiki]The Caspian tiger or Persian tiger was the westernmost subspecies of tiger,found in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Caucasus,Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan until it apparently became extinctin the 1970s. Of all the tigers known to the world, the Caspian tiger was thethird largest.The body of this subspecies was quite stocky and elongated with stronglegs, big wide paws and unusually large claws. The ears were short andsmall, and gave the appearance of being without hair on the tips. Aroundthe cheeks the Caspian tiger was generously furred and the rest of its furwas long and thick. The colouration resembled that of the Bengal tiger.Male Caspian tigers were very large and weighed 169-240 kg. Females were
5not as large, weighing 85-135 kg. There are still occasional claims of theCaspian tiger being sighted. Aurochs: a very large type of cattle (extinct since 1627) [Wiki]One of Europes most famous extinct animals, the aurochs or urus(Bosprimigenius) were a very large type of cattle. Aurochs evolved in Indiasome two million years ago, migrated into the Middle East and further intoAsia, and reached Europe about 250,000 years ago.By the 13th century A.D., the aurochs range was restricted toPoland,Lithuania, Moldavia, Transylvania and East Prussia. The right tohunt large animals on any land was restricted to nobles and gradually to theroyal household. As the population of aurochs declined, hunting ceased butthe royal court still required gamekeepers to provide open fields for theaurochs to graze in. The gamekeepers were exempted from local taxes inexchange for their service and a decree made poaching an aurochspunishable by death. In 1564, the gamekeepers knew of only 38 animals,according to the royal survey. The last recorded live aurochs, a female, diedin 1627 in the Jaktorów Forest, Poland. The skull was later taken by theSwedish Army and is now the property of Livrustkammaren in Stockholm.In the 1920s two German zookeepers, the brothers Heinz and Lutz Heck,attempted to breed the aurochs back into existence (see breeding back)from the domestic cattle that were their descendants. Their plan was basedon the conception that a species is not extinct as long as all its genes are stillpresent in a living population. The result is the breed called Heck Cattle,Recreated Aurochs, or Heck Aurochs, which bears an incompleteresemblance to what is known about the physiology of the wild aurochs Great Auk: largest of all auks (extinct since 1844) [Wiki]The Great Auk was the only species in the genus Pinguinus, flightless giantauks from the Atlantic, to survive until recent times, but is extinct today. Itwas also known as garefowl, or penguin.
6Standing about 75 centimetres or 30-34 inches high and weighing around 5kg, the flightless Great Auk was the largest of the auks. It had white andglossy black feathers. In the past, the Great Auk was found in greatnumbers on islands off eastern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway,Ireland and Great Britain, but it was eventually hunted to extinction.Remains found in Floridanmiddens suggest that at least occasionally, birdsventured that far south in winter as recently as in the 14th century. Cave Lion: one of the largest lions ever (extinct 2,000 yearsago) [Wiki]The cave lion, also known as the European or Eurasian cave lion, is anextinct subspecies of lion known from fossils and a wide variety ofprehistoric art. This subspecies was one of the largest lions. An adult male,which was found in 1985 near Siegsdorf (Germany), had a shoulder heightof around 1.2 m and a length of 2.1 m without a tail, which is about thesame size as a very big modern lion. This male was even exceeded by otherspecimens of this subspecies. Therefore this cat may have been around 5-10% bigger than modern lions. It apparently went extinct about 10,000years ago, during the Würm glaciation, though there are some indications itmay have existed as recently as 2,000 years ago, in the Balkans. Dodo: the archetype of extinct species (extinct since late 17thcentury) [Wiki]The Dodo (Raphuscucullatus) was a flightless bird that lived on the islandof Mauritius. Related to pigeons and doves, it stood about a meter tall(three feet), lived on fruit and nested on the ground. The dodo has beenextinct since the mid-to-late 17th century. It is commonly used as thearchetype of an extinct species because its extinction occurred duringrecorded human history, and was directly attributable to human activity.The adjective phrase "as dead as a dodo" means undoubtedly and
7unquestionably dead. The verb phrase "to go the way of the dodo" means tobecome extinct or obsolete, to fall out of common usage or practice, or tobecome a thing of the past.Giant PandaOne of the world’s rarest animals, the giant panda lives in the sub-alpineforests in the west central region of China. The classification of the pandahas long been a matter of controversy among zoologists. Originallyclassified with the bears, it was later grouped withraccoons. The weight ofevidence that has accumulated over the years, however, now supports theview that it is related to bears. Its closest relative is the spectacled bear ofSouth America.The giant panda is a large, stocky animal measuring up to 1.5 m in lengthand weighing up to 150 kg. Its diet consists chiefly of vegetable matter, butit also eats small animals.Shy and solitary by nature when in the wild, they become friendly andplayful in captivity. Only a handful exist in zoos of the western world, butChinese zoos have reported successful breeding of their pandas. Currently,the World Wildlife Fund and the Chinese Ministry of Forestry havedeveloped a conservation management plan that outlines 14new panda reserves and five corridors connecting patches of panda habitat.