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Top 12 Extinct Mammals in Modern History

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North American Eastern Cougar

Extinction occurs when the life cycle of a particular organism ends.  In the
last 100 years, technological and industrial advancements have caused a
great deal of human expansion.  This growth has damaged the environment
and directly led to the extinction of many species of animals.  We are
currently in an era of mass extinction, the 6th major mass extinction in Earth's
recorded history.  This article will examine the events surrounding twelve
mammal species that have become extinct in the last 150 years.  Some of
the entries have real pictures, while others were never photographed.      

12. Schomburgk's Deer

Extinct: 1932

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Only Known Picture

Schomburgk's Deer was a member of the family Cervidae.  The species was
found only in Thailand and was named after Sir Robert H. Schomburgk, who
was the British consul in Bangkok from 1857-1864.  The animal’s fur was a
dark brown with lighter underparts.  The underside of the tail was white and
males possessed basketlike antlers, upon which all the main tines branched.
This caused the deer to have up to 33 points on their antlers and the outer
edge of the rack to be up to 35 inches long.  Females had no antlers. 

Schomburgk's deer inhabited swampy plains with long grass, cane, and shrubs
in central Thailand, particularly in the Chao Phraya River valley near
Bangkok.  This deer avoided dense vegetation and they lived in herds that
consisted of a single adult male, a few females, and their young.  Commercial
production of rice for export began in the late nineteenth century in Thailand
leading to the loss of nearly all grassland and swamp areas that this deer
depended on.  Intensive hunting at the turn of the century also contributed to
the animal’s extinction.

11. The Syrian Wild Ass

Extinct: 1928

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Only Known Picture

The Syrian Wild Ass is an extinct subspecies of onager that ranged across
Syria, Jordan and Iraq.  It belonged to the horse family (Equidae).  It was the
smallest form of Equidae, but could not be domesticated.  The species
coloring changed with the seasons, a tawny olive coat for the summer months
and pale sandy yellow for the winter.  It is believed that this is the animal
described as the “wild ass” in several books of the Old Testament, including
Job, Psalms, Sirach and Jeremiah, many European travelers in the Middle
East during the 15th and 16th centuries reported seeing large herds of the wild
animals. 

However, its numbers began to drop during the 18th and 19th century due to
overhunting.  The creature’s existence was further imperiled by the regional
upheaval of World War I.  The last known wild specimen was fatally shot in
1927 at the Al Ghams oasis near Lake Azraq in Jordan, and the last captive
specimen died the same year at the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna. 

10. Quagga

Extinct: 1883

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Only Known Picture

The quagga is an extinct subspecies of the Common zebra.  It was once found
in South Africa's Cape Province and the southern part of the Orange Free
State.  The quagga was distinguished from other zebras by having black and
white stripes only on the front part of its body.  In the mid-section of the animal
the stripes faded and the quagga’s rear end was a plain brown.  The species
lived in the drier parts of South Africa, on grassland.  It was hunted for its meat
and fur.  The creature was the first extinct species to have its DNA studied. 

The only living quagga to have ever been photographed was a mare at the
Zoological Society of London's Zoo in Regent's Park in 1870.  T
he last
specimen in captivity, a mare, died on August 12, 1883 at the Artis Magistra
zoo in Amsterdam.  Because of the confusion between different zebra
species, the quagga became extinct before it was realized that it was a
separate species.

9. Toolache Wallaby

Extinct: Early 1940’s

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The Toolache Wallaby is an extinct species of wallaby from South-western
South Australia and South-western Victoria.  It is widely considered it to be the
most elegant, graceful, and swift species of kangaroo.  The Toolache Wallaby
had fine fur with alternating bands of darker and lighter grey across the back.
The bands differed in their color and texture.  Its hopping consisted on two
short hops, then a long one.  The creature was gregarious, with groups settling
and protecting a particular location.  The wallaby was hunted for fur and sport
and was affected by pastoralism, which is the branch of agriculture concerned
with raising livestock. 

The species was relatively common until 1910, but by 1923 the numbers were
slim.  The last known group of 14 Toolache Wallaby inhabited the Konetta
sheep run near Robe.  Professor Wood Jones and others failed in attempts to
capture the wallabies and transfer them to a sanctuary on Kangaroo Island.
Four individuals were captured, but they died from exhaustion and shock.  A
female was captured and survived for 12 years in captivity at Robe until
1939.  The wallaby became extinct because of hunting, foxes, and land
clearance.

8. Javan Tiger

Extinction: Unknown Date

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Only Known Picture of a Living Javan Tiger

The Javan tiger is a subspecies of tiger found on the Indonesian island of
Java.  The creatures are very small compared to other tiger species.  Males
weighed between 100 kg (220 lb) and 141 kg (310 lb) on average and females
weighed between 75 kg (170 lb) and 115 kg (250 lb).  It seems likely that the
tigers were made extinct in the 1980s, as a result of hunting and habitat
destruction.  However their extinction became increasingly probable from the
1950s onwards, when it is thought that fewer than 25 tigers remained in the
wild.  The last specimen was sighted in 1972.  A track count in 1979
concluded that three of the tigers were in existence.

It is possible that a small population of Javan tigers continues to exist in West
Java and there have been some unverified sightings in the area.  At the
present time the World Conservation Monitoring Centre lists the tigers as
having an 'outstanding query over status' rather than 'extinct', and some
agencies are carrying out experiments using infrared activated remote
cameras in an effort to photograph the tiger.  Authorities are even prepared to
initiate the move of several thousands of people if a population of the tigers is
discovered.  But until concrete evidence can be produced (expert sightings,
pug marks, photographic evidence), the Javan tiger must be considered
another tiger subspecies which is extinct.  The Bali Tiger and the Caspian
Tiger have also gone extinct recently.    

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7. Bubal Hartebeest

Extinct: 1923

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Only Known Picture

The Bubal Hartebeest is an antelope that became extinct in 1923.  The Bubal
Hartebeest stood at around 122 cm (4ft) at the shoulder and had lyre-shaped
horns.  It is believed to have once lived in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and
Tunisia.  It may also have resided in the Middle East. The animal was once
domesticated by Egyptians and its unique horns have indicated its importance
as a food source and in mythology.  It is even mentioned in the Old Testament
under the name Yachmur. 

Starting in the 1900s the Bubal Hartebeest could only be found in Algeria and
the Moroccan High Atlas.  French people who resided in Morocco shot these
animals for fun, and for hunting, which killed off large herds.  Many Hartebeests
were captured and kept alive in the London Zoo from 1883 to 1907, but they
eventually died out.  In 1923, a Bubal Hartebeest female that died in a Paris
Zoo is believed to have been the last one remaining.  The Dutch name for the
Bubal Hartebeest is Noord-Afrikaans Hartenbeest.

6. Mexican Grizzly Bear

Extinct: 1960’s

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The Mexican grizzly bear is a presumed extinct subspecies of Brown bear.  The
species was one of the heaviest and largest mammals in Mexico.  It reached
a length up to 183 centimeters and an average weight of 318 kilograms.  Due
to its silver fur it was often named "el oso plateado" (the silver bear).  The
Mexican grizzly bear was smaller than the grizzly bears in the United States
and Canada.  The general color was pale, yellowish, varying to grayish-white.
They inhabited the northern territories of Mexico, in particular the temperate
grasslands and mountainous pine forests.  Its previous range extended all the
way from Arizona to New Mexico and Mexico.

The bear’s diet consisted mainly of plants, fruits, and insects.  Occasionally it
fed on small mammals and carrion.  The Mexican grizzly bear was trapped,
shot and poisoned.  The animals became scarce by the 1930s.  Its range
decreased to the three isolated mountains, Cerro Campano, Santa Clara, and
Sierra del Nido 80 km north of Chihuahua in the state of Chihuahua.  By 1960
only 30 of the creatures were left and by 1964 they were extinct.

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North American Grizzly

5. Caribbean Monk Seal

Extinct: 1952

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Only Known Picture

The Caribbean Monk Seal or West Indian Monk Seal is an extinct species of
seal.  It is the only seal ever to live in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of
Mexico.  The last verified recorded sighting of the Caribbean Monk Seal
occurred in 1952 at Serranilla Bank, in the western Caribbean Sea.  On June
6, 2008, after five years of futile efforts to find a Caribbean monk seals, the
U.S. government announced that the species is officially extinct.  It is the only
seal species to vanish largely due to human causes. 

The Caribbean Monk Seal was a relatively large seal (1.8-2.7 m) with rolls of
fat around its neck and brown pelage that faded to a yellow-white color on the
stomach.  The soles and palms were naked, with the nails on the anterior
digits well developed.  The males reached a length of about 3.25 meters and
weighed up to 200 kilograms.  These creatures spent their time in the water,
occupying rocky and sandy coastlines for shelter and breeding.  Their diet
included lobsters, octopus, and reef fish.  Like other true seals, the Caribbean
Monk Seal was sluggish on land.  Its lack of fear for man and an unaggressive
and curious nature contributed to its demise.  A collection of Caribbean Monk
Seal bones can be found at the Tropical Crane Point Hammock Museum in
Key Vaca.

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4. Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger

Extinct: 1936

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The Thylacine was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times.
Marsupials are an infraclass of mammals, characterized by a distinctive
pouch, in which females carry their young through early infancy.  The
Tasmanian tiger was native to continental Australia, Tasmania, and New
Guinea.  It resembled a large, short-haired dog with a stiff tail which extended
from the body in a way similar to that of a kangaroo.  The Thylacine became
extremely rare or extinct on the Australian mainland before European
settlement of the continent, but it survived on the island state of Tasmania
along with several other endemic species, including the Tasmanian Devil.
Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties is blamed for its extinction, but
other contributory factors may have been disease, the introduction of dogs,
and human encroachment into its habitat.
 

The last Thylacine died in the Hobart Zoo, in Tasmania, Australia, on
September 7th, 1936.  Despite being the last of its kind, the animal (named
Benjamin) likely died due to neglect after being locked out of its sheltered
quarters during extreme weather.  The Thylacine was one of only two
marsupials to have a pouch in both sexes (the other being the Water
Opossum).  They were nocturnal and crepuscular hunters, spending the
daylight hours in small caves or hollow tree trunks in a nest of twigs, bark or
fern fronds.  They tended to retreat to the hills and forest for shelter during the
day and hunted in the open heath at night.  One of the biggest causes of their
extinction in the wild was a massive hunting campaign instituted by the
Tasmanian government from 1888 to 1909, justified because the animals were
a threat to sheep and hens.
 

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3. Sea Mink

Extinct: 1894

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The Sea Mink is an extinct North American member of the Mustelidae family.  It
is the only mustelid, and one of two terrestrial mammal species in the order
Carnivora to have gone extinct in historic times, along with the Falkland
Islands Wolf.  The creatures were significantly longer than the closely related
American Mink.  They were also bulkier, leading to a pelt that was almost twice
the size.  The longest specimen recorded was said to be 82.6 cm (32.5 in).
The fur of the Sea Mink was coarser and redder than the American Mink's.  It
also gave off a distinctive odor.  The Sea Mink was found along the rocky
coasts of New England and Atlantic Canada, as far north as Nova Scotia.

Due to its highly prized fur, this mink was hunted to extinction.  The animal's
remains are often found in Native American shell-heaps on the coast of Maine,
but while indigenous hunting may have made some contribution to the Sea
Mink's decline, it was the competitive European fur trade that led to its
extinction.  The last known member of the species was said to have been
captured in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1894.  It became extinct before being
scientifically described, and therefore little is known about its habits.  Existing
data suggests it was nocturnal and solitary.  The Sea Mink is sometimes
considered a subspecies of the American Mink.

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American Mink

2. Baiji or Chinese River Dolphin

Extinct: 2006

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Last Known Picture

The Baiji is a freshwater dolphin that was found only in the Yangtze River in
China.  The creature has been given the nickname "Goddess of the Yangtze."
The Baiji population declined drastically in recent decades as China’s
industrialization has made heavy use of the Yangtze River for fishing,
transportation, and hydroelectricity.  Efforts were made to conserve the
species, but a late 2006 expedition failed to find any of the dolphins in the
river.  Organizers declared the Baiji "functionally extinct” and it became the
first aquatic mammal species to become extinct since the demise of the
Japanese Sea Lion and the Caribbean Monk Seal in the 1950s.  It is also the
first recorded extinction of a well-studied cetacean species.
 

In the 1950s, the population was estimated at 6,000 animals, but it declined
rapidly over the subsequent five decades.  Only a few hundred were left by
1970 and the number dropped down to 400 by the 1980s and then to 13 in
1997, when a full-fledged search was conducted.  The last known living baiji
was Qi Qi who died in 2002.  With the extinction of the Chinese River Dolphin
there remains only 4 living species of river dolphin. 

1. Falkland Islands Wolf

Extinct: 1876

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The Falkland Islands Wolf, also known as the Warrah, was the only native land
mammal of the Falkland Islands.  The species became extinct in 1876, on
West Falkland Island. It is the first known canid to have gone extinct in
historical times.  Canid is the biological family of carnivorous and omnivorous
mammals that includes wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes, and the domestic
dog.  It has been determined that the Falkland Island wolf's closest living
relative is the Maned Wolf, which is an unusually long-legged, fox-like South
American canid.  The fur of the Falkland Islands Wolf had a tawny color.  The
tip of the tail was white.  The diet is unknown, but due to the absence of native
rodents on the Falklands, its diet probably consisted of ground-nesting birds
such as geese and penguins, grubs and insects, as well as seashore
scavenging.

The first recorded sighting of a Falkland Island Wolf was by Capt. John Strong
in 1692.  Captain Strong took one of the animals on his ship, but during the
voyage back to Europe the creature became frightened by the firing of the
ship’s cannon and jumped overboard.  When Charles Darwin visited the
islands in 1833 he described the species as common and tame.  In the 19th
century settlers regarded the wolf as a threat to their sheep and organized
poisoning and shooting on a massive scale.  The absence of forests led to the
quick capture of the animals.  Their extinction was also facilitated by the
species tameness. 

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More Extinct Species

Passenger Pigeon
Desert Rat-kangaroo
Golden Toad

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Golden Toad

Emperor Rat

New Zealand Greater Short-tailed Bat

Pyrenean Ibex

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Pyrenean Ibex

Tecopa Pupfish

Big-eared Hopping Mouse

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Big-eared Hopping Mouse

Queen of Sheba's Gazelle

Barbary Lion

Japanese Sea Lion

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Japanese Sea Lion

Tarpan (A Wild Horse)

Cuban Red Macaw

Western Black Rhinoceros

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A Black Rhinoceros, Not Western

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