Extinct animals are a touchy subject for us, because we know we are to blame for many of the disappearances in the animal kingdom. There is nothing abnormal in animal species disappearing: it happens since the beginning of the world but there are some animals which were not supposed to become extinct as their time had not come; they were thriving until humans came along: here are 10 of these extinct species:

1. The Dodo bird


The Dodo Bird is one of the most renowned birds in the world. Unfortunately, all we have left today is a name and some pictures to show our children how these amazing animals looked like, because the Dodo bird became extinct long ago. It lived in the Indian Ocean, on the Mauritius Island and made first contact with human beings  at the end of the 16th century, when Portuguese settlers reached the Island. Because they had never seen human, they were not afraid of them and were called “stupid” (Dodo) by the ignorant sailors. By the end of the 17th century, the dodos were all hunted down.

2. The Tasmanian wolf (Thylacine)


This was an interesting species of animal- a carnivorous marsupial which was not by any means related to wolves, but rather to kangaroos. It was seen as a pest by locals, because the Thylacine used to eat small farm animals and thus, it was hunted down without mercy. By the time it was acknowledged as an endangered species, nothing could be done anymore to save this species. The last Tasmanian wolf died more than 50 years ago, but people claim to see it every so often.

3. The Quagga


The quagga is one of the extinct animals we are really sorry to having forced into extinction, but unfortunately, there’s nothing more to be done about it: The strange animal which looked both as a Zebra and as a horse (with only half of its body stripped) was considered a regular zebra (one of the reasons for this is that natives gave both animals the same name) and was killed for its meat until the last individual. The only Quagga left was kept at an Amsterdam zoo and died in 1883.

4. The Caspian, and Bali tigers


These sub-species disappeared because of men.  They had distinctive features that distinguished them from the other tigers: the Caspian sub-species used to live in the forests near the Caspian Sea, in Turkey, Iran and Central Asia. It ranked among the biggest cats that ever lived and were all killed either for their fur or to stop them from killing domestic animals. The Bali tigers , were, by opposition, the smallest tiger sub-species in the world. Their habitat was limitated to the Bali Island and thus, their number was never large. Their close relative, the Javan tigers shared the same faith.

5. Steller’s sea cow


Steller’s sea cows were a population of huge (9 meters) herbivorous marine mammals, which only lived in the unpopulated Commander Islands. It is estimated that their number had been much larger  in the past but by their discovery in 1741, only 1500 individuals were still alive (probably having been hunted down by indigenous peoples). The slow, huge and harmless sea cows were all killed by sailors, hunters and fur traders only 30 years after their discovery, thus adding to the list of extinct animals.

6.  Great auk


This cute looking bird was 85 cm large and lived in the Atlantic Ocean region. Its extinction was slow but inevitable: men hunted this bird for 100,000 years  and by the 16th century, the entire population  in Europe had been destroyed. Little by little, Great auk colonies were destroyed all over the world and, by the 19th century, when it became obvious that they were a threatened species, the rush to collect eggs, and skins for museums and private collections made that their disappearance occur even faster.

7. The Golden toad


Some might say that it is only a frog, so one species of frog more or less  does not make much of a difference. However, except from the fact that all species should be equally important, this little toad was special for its look: how many golden frogs did you see before? None? This is because they were all officially declared extinct animals in 2004. The golden toad was discovered in 1966 but by 1989, none was still alive. There are many hypotheses as if why they disappeared and the best one is that the dry weather caused by El Niño cased all larvae to die one year while dults were probanly wiped out by quick habitat loss.

8.  Meiolania


These funny looking animals were also called horned turtles.  They were huge -2,5 meters long and lived in Australia, Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The Meiolani were hunted by the Lapita people for food (the legs were eatable) and ritual purposes. They became an extinct species 3000 years ago.

9.  The Irish elk


The great Irish elk was an impressive animal: the largest deer that ever lived, it was more than 2.1 meters tall and had huge, strong antlers. Despite his size and strength, it could not protect himself from hunters who hunted them with no mercy. Also, a cause of their disappearance, about 5.7 thousand years ago, might have been the lack of sufficient nutrients, necessary in the growing process of their antlers.

10. The Cave bear


These exctinct animals lived in Europe until 11,000 years ago (or 27, 000 years ago, according to other sources) and also have human to “thank” for their disappearance. This time, however, was a matter of survival: The mighty cave bear needed a cave to hibernate, but early humans also needed them for shelter. Thus, in this competition, humans were the winners and the cave bear, which failed to adapt , slowly faded away.

source and photo credits:

Its Nature.org, 50 Birds.com, Encyclopedia Britannica