The wolf became extinct in England in 1486, Scotland in 1743, and Ireland in 1770.
Quagga, Equus burchelli quagga, of the Karoo Plains and southern Free State of South Africa were a subspecies of the Burchell Zebra, although their unique appearance wouldn’t necessarily make this apparent. Some thought incorrectly that the Quagga was the female of Burchell’s Zebra, probably because the natives gave both zebras the same name.
In the wild, Quaggas, Ostriches and Wildebeests often grazed together in what was termed the “triple alliance”. The Quagga’s hearing, the Ostrich’s eyesight and the Wildibeast’s keen sense of smell comprised excellent defense from predators for the entire herd. However, its limited range made it all the more vulnerable and Quaggas were hunted to the brink of extinction in the mid 19th Century by settlers razing sheep, goats and other livestock. The last Quagga died in in 1883 in an Amsterdam Zoo.
Turanian Tiger, Caspian Tiger
Caspian Tigers lived in China, Tajikistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey. They were hunted for their furs and to protect livestock. A ban on hunting the Caspian Tiger in the USSR in 1947 followed their greatest destruction in the 1930s. The last Caspian Tiger reported shot was in 1957.
Teller’s Sea Cow
Steller’s Sea Cow was discovered in the Aleutian Islands by George Steller while exploring with Vitus Bering in 1741. They grew as large as 35 feet long and weighed up to three-and-a-half tons. Sailors ate their meat and used their leather. They were easily killed and vanished from their only home within 30 years after Steller’s discovery.
Spectacled Cormorant, Pallas’ Cormorant
Also discovered in the Aleutian Islands by George Steller while exploring with Vitus Bering in 1741. The Spectacled Cormorant was extinct within about a century.
In 1505, Portuguese explorers discovered the island of Mauritius and the 50 lb flightless Dodos which supplemented their food stores. Imported pigs, monkeys and rats fed on the Dodo’s eggs in their ground nests. The last Dodo was killed in 1681.
Moeritherium lived in North Africa about 50 million years ago in the Miocene. They stood little more than two feet tall and likely ate water plants in ponds similarly to hippopotamuses.
Trilophodon Four tusked Mastodon
The Trilophodon stood over 8 feet tall and lived in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America from the Miocene (26 million years ago) to the Pleistocene epoch (2 million years ago) .
Tetrabelodon lived in North Africa, Europe and Asia during the Miocene (24 million to 5 million years ago) and the early Pliocene (5 million to 1.8 million years ago). Tetrabelodons had four tusks and one species stood more than 15 feet tall.
The Dinotherium lived in Europe, Africa and Asia from around 20 million years ago to around just a few million years ago in the Miocene and the Pliocene periods.
Long Jawed Mastodon
Long Jawed Mastodons stood about 4 1/2 ft high, had four tusks and lived in the Oligocene epoch (from about 33.7 to 23.8 million years ago), part of the Tertiary Period in the Cenozoic Era.
During the Oligocene epoch, the first Mastodons lived in Africa and their larger descendants spread over Asia, Europe and finally to Northern America about 15 million years ago in the Miocene (23.8 to 5.3 million years ago.) The last Long-jawed Mastodons lived in North America and became extinct near the end of the Pleistocene (1.8 million to 11,000 years ago).
American Mastodons lived about 15 million years ago and became extinct about 6,000 years ago. They stood about 10 feet tall, ate grass, leaves and water plants of the lowlands and swamps which they roamed.
Southern Mammoth Mammuthus meridionalis
The Southern Mammoth lived in Europe and Asia in the late Pliocene from about 2.5 to 3 million years ago and migrated to North America in the early Pleistocene around 1.8 million years ago. It stood about 14 ft at the shoulder.
The Hairy Mammoth stood about 12 feet tall, lived in Europe and Asia during the Pleistociene and became extinct as recently as from 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. Mammoths were hunted during the stone age and Cro-Magnon people painted Mammoth images on cave walls.
The Woolly Mammoths were about 11 feet tall and lived in the Arctic Regions of Europe, Asia and North America in the Pleistocene (1.8 million to 11 thousand years ago) and became extinct between 5000 and 10,000 years ago.
Giant Australian Marsupial Diprotodon
The Giant Australian Marsupial, Diprotodon, looked like a giant Wombat and lived from 1,600,000 to 40,000 years ago during the Pleistocene. It was the largest marsupial that ever lived, the size of a hippopotamus, 9 feet long and 6 feet high at the shoulders. It probably ate tree leaves, shrubs and grasses.
Giant Ground Sloth
The Giant Ground Sloth, Megatherium americanum, was 18 feet long, as big as an elephant, and lived in South America during the Pleistocene until just a few thousand years ago. Other species from the size of a cat to that of the the giant ground sloth lived from the Arctic to Antarctica. They were hunted by humans and some believe humans may even have farmed them.
The extinct bird, Phororhacos lived in South America during the Miocene and stood eight feet tall. Imagine running away from this carnivore!
Archelon, Archelon ischyros
The Giant Turtle Archelon was a slow moving creature of the ancient seas during the Cretaceous (65 to 146 million years ago). Some remains measure over 15 feet long. Like many of today’s turtles it ate jellyfish and expired drifting fish as well as plants, buried its eggs in sandy beaches, and may have lived more than 100 years.
The Baluchitherium was an early rhinoceros which lived in Asia about 20 to 30 million years ago during the late Oligocene (24 to 38 million years ago )and and early Miocene (5 to 24 million years ago)
Pterodactyls lived in Antarctica, Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas during the Jurassic (205 million to 138 million years ago) and were extinct by the end of the Cretaceous (65 million years ago). Their wings consisted of skin stretched between their bodies and long fourth “fingers” of their “hands”. Three additional much smaller fingers of each hand had claws. They laid large eggs. They were not dinasours.
There were 29 pterodactyl species ranging from the size of a small bird up to the size of a Quetzalcoatlus which was 20 feet long and weighed 500 lbs. The largest Quetzalcoatlus wingspan measured over 36 feet. They probably soared over long distances. Another Pterodactyl species, the Pterodaustros, had one thousand teeth.
Pteranodons lived in Europe and North America during the Cretaceous around 75 million years ago. They stood 6 feet tall and had wingspans of over 20 feet, sometimes greater than 30 feet. The Pteranodons were descendants of the earlier pterodactyls. They ate fish, crabs, mollusks, insects and also scavenged, but had no teeth. They were likely able to soar for long distances with may have even walked well.
Rhamphorhynchus, one of the first vertebrates to fly, was an early pterosaur in Africa and Europe in the late Jurassic around 150 million years ago. They ranged in size, the largest having a wingspan of almost 6 feet. It had a large head, a long neck, long jaws with outward pointing teeth, a throat pouch, small legs and a long tail with a diamond shaped flap. It likely hunted or scavenged for fish. Their fossils are often found near ancient seabeds.
Another Pterodactyle, the Dimorphodon, lived in Europe during the early Jurassic. It had a 4 feet wingspan, deep, wide jaws and a diamond-shaped flap at the end of its long tail, probably used to maneuver and often imitated in science fiction illustrations. The few Dimorphodon fossils which have been found show large voids in its skull which lightened its huge head.
Native plants face many of the same threats to their survival that are faced by threatened and endangered animals. Deforestation, habitat loss, invasive species and over-harvesting are among the factors that are pushing more plants toward the brink of extinction.
While the future is uncertain for many species, for some there is no future. Thousands of species of plants have already crossed the line. No more of their species are found in the wild, if their species exists at all. A brief sampling of some of the flowering plants that have disappeared from planet Earth shows that the loss of flora is occurring worldwide.
Cosmos atrosanguineus, commonly called chocolate cosmos, is a type of daisy that was native to Mexico. The chocolate cosmos is extinct in the wild. In cultivation, there is one clone surviving. The chocolate cosmos reached heights of 40 to 60 cm and produced flowers of dark red with a chocolate-like fragrance.
Among the flowering plants that have disappeared from Britain are three species of protea—the mace pagoda, Wynberg conebush and diminutive powderpuff. These species had limited populations at the time of their discovery and ensuing development and habitat loss are likely the culprits that caused their extinction.
Euphorbia mayurnathanii was a flowering plant of India that is now extinct in the wild. The plant was first described in 1940 when it was found growing on a rocky ledge. The Euphorbia mayurnathanii does survive as a cultivated species.
Lysimachia minoricensis was found in Spain. Habitat loss is blamed for its extinction in the wild. Found in only one location in the country, it disappeared from the wild sometime between 1926 and 1950. It does survive as a cultivated species, and attempts have been made to reintroduce it to the wild.
Acalypha rubrinervis, the St. Helena mountain bush, was a member of the string tree family, producing textured and colorful flowers. Found on Saint Helena island in the South Atlantic Ocean, the Acalypha rubrinervis disappeared from the island as human populations increased.
Valerianella affinis, an annual that grew on dry hill slopes, was only seen at a single site in 19th Century Yemen. A dried specimen is all that seems to remain of this extinct plant, though investigation into its status continues.
The Cry violet or Cry pansy, scientifically named Viola cryana, was a native of France that is now extinct. Habitat destruction in the quarrying of limestone and over-collection by collectors drove the plant to extinction in the wild in 1930, and it was no longer available in cultivation by 1950.