10. Gastric Brooding Frog
In the late 20th century, a plague of exotic spores known as chytrid fungus spread as a result of the accidental release of non-native toads into Australia. The disease hit numerous amphibian populations hard, and led to the sudden extinction of Northern Australia’s gastric brooding frog in 1983.
The quagga, or “horse tiger,” was an equine mix of horse and zebra characteristics. Native to South Africa, the quagga went extinct following overhunting in the late 1800s. The brown color with limited frontal stripes suggest it was either the ancestor of the fully striped zebra, or a more recently developed descendant that was in the process of losing its stripes and returning to a horselike form.
8. New Zealand Huia
The mountain forests of New Zealand were once home to a mysterious and exceedingly unusual black songbird known as the huia. These wattlebirds exhibited a bizarre and unparalleled form of sexual dimorphism.
7. Carolina Parakeet
The Carolina parakeet was the only parrot native to Canada and the United States. It’s also one of history’s most recent extinctions, and one of the most mysterious, tragic and ecologically damaging. Inhabiting the same forests as the passenger pigeon, the parrot was persecuted by landholders who disliked its fondness for fruit crops.
When we look at a domestic cow, drink milk, or eat beef, we likely never realized that we’re benefiting from an extinct species. While buffalo, bison and yak hold on, and in some cases thrive in wild populations, the auroch, or wild cow, is now extinct.
5. Woolly Mammoth
Unlike more recent extinctions, the woolly mammoth remains a mystery. Suitable habitats remain in Siberian tundra regions, where the bodies of mammoths are still being found preserved in the permafrost. The conditions that preserved the bodies have also preserved the DNA sequences of this giant mammal rather effectively, giving scientists the opportunity to clone mammoths using their closest living relative, the Asian elephant.
4. Woolly Rhinoceros
Nature is full of ecologically associated species. Just as African grasslands and Asian rainforests are home to both elephant and rhinoceros species, the Woolly mammoth shared its tundra habitat with the enormous woolly rhinoceros.
3. Pyrenean Ibex
The extinction of the Pyrenean ibex in the Mediterranean mountains was one of the most senseless extinctions, and considering it occurred in the year 2000, one of the most recent.
2. Passenger Pigeon
Inhabiting the thick deciduous forests of Eastern North America, the stunning pink and blue bird migrated between feeding sites in such large flocks the sun was said to be blotted out by the living clouds. Disaster struck when market hunting decimated the flocks, and despite some attempts to legislate protection, the passenger pigeon dwindled until the last specimen, a captive, died in 1914.
1. Giant Ground Sloth
Huge, slow moving and exceedingly unusual, the giant ground sloth inhabited the New World until about 10,000 years ago. The enormous relative of the familiar tree sloth walked in a quadrupedal manner, but often reared up on their massive hind limbs to forage on tree leaves. Weighing up to four tons and reaching 20 feet in length, giant sloths are only surpassed by modern elephants in size, and they played an essential role in breaking up continuous forest tracts and allowing birds and small mammals to access newly created habitat edges.