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Going Going Gone......Extinct......Kaput

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The causes of extinction can be classified as natural or human. Natural causes of extinction are floods, fires, volcanic eruptions, diseases, ice ages, gigantic crashing meteors, and loss of food or habitat required by a species which is totally dependent on that food or habitat.  Human causes of extinction are destruction of habitat, over-hunting, over-collecting, and the use of pesticides and pollutants.
The causes of extinction can be classified as natural or human. Natural causes of extinction are floods, fires, volcanic eruptions, diseases, ice ages, gigantic crashing meteors, and loss of food or habitat required by a species which is totally dependent on that food or habitat.  Human causes of extinction are destruction of habitat, over-hunting, over-collecting, and the use of pesticides and pollutants.

The Tasmanian Wolf


Japanese Wolf

Opal Allotoca

Pyreanean Ibex


Great Plains Lobo Wolf


Passenger Pigeon

Mexican Grizzly



The Tasmanian Wolf

A carnivorous marsupial, the Tasmanian wolf, or Thylacine, native to Tasmania (an island off Australia), was the strangest “wolf” the world has ever seen.  One European observer called it a “kangaroo masquerading as a wolf”.  It was the only member of its genus and of its family (Thylacindae).  It had the head and teeth of a wolf, the stripes of a tiger, the tail of a kangaroo and the backward-opening pouch of an opossum.  It measured 5-6ft. (150-180 cm) in length.  The Thylacine fed on kangaroos, wallabies, and ground birds. Whoever named it “wolf” contributed to its extinction since it suffered the same persecution as every creature named wolf.  They gained an unreasonable reputation as sheep killers and the totally false reputation that they killed for blood. In 1888 the Tasmanian government offered a bounty for the Thylacine.  Between 1888-1914 thousands were killed.  In 1910 an epidemic of distemper, probably brought on by domestic dogs, reduced the Thylacine population dangerously low.  In 1936 the government totally reversed its stance and granted the Thylacine complete protection.  The gesture was absurd. The last wild Thylacine was seen in 1930.  The last captured was 1933.  Since 1933 there has been no evidence of its existence.  In 1966, a reserve for the protection of the Thylacine was created even though none had been seen for 33 years.

  Go figure!

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The Japanese Wolf—In Japan there were once two kinds of wolf,  there are now none. 

One was a subspecies of Grey Wolf called the Yeso Wolf, which although extinct in Japan  may still be found in small numbers in the Soviet Union.  The other  species was referred to as a miniature Japanese wolf sometimes called the Shamanu.  The Shamanu was the world’s smallest wolf.  It measured only 2 ft. 9 in. in length and stood 12in. high at the        shoulder.  It  was ash grey in color. Wolves have been  historically feared by  man and the Shamanu was no exception.  It was hunted and trapped persistently.  In addition to being valued for its fur and skin, it was offered for sale to the newly arrived Europeans as food.

The main stronghold of the Shamanu was in Honshu, but they were also numerous in Hokkaido and Kuriles. In these regions the added incentive of a bounty  operated.  Between 1878 and 1882 a bounty of seven yen  per wolf was paid  and after 1882 it rose to 10 yen.  This created a yen  (no pun intended) to hunt wolves.  In 1905, a shamanu was killed near Washikaguchi in Honshu and its pelt presented to a European traveller.  It was the last Japanese Wolf ever seen.

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          This rare species of fish was believed to be extinct for 20 years.  It was rediscovered in a remote valley of central Mexico by Museum of Natural History icthyologist Michael Smith.  The small fish gets its name from it opalescent colors.  It lived in Lake Magdalena but it had not been seen since the lake dried up in 1970 due to human caused habitat changes.  Smith discovered the new ones in an artificial pond near the dry lake bed.  Fish species like the Opal Allotoca that live in the desert are very important to scientists because they have already survived climactic changes similar to global warming.  A breeding population has been established at the New York Aquarium to ensure the Opal Allotoca 's survival while a recovery plan is developed for the species in the wild.   

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Pyreanean Ibex - The first extinction of the new millenium.  

A few hundred years ago the Pyrenean Ibexes were very common in Spain. But by the end of the 19th century, massive hunting had reduced the animal's number to less than hundred, so they were close to extinction. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the population never rose above 40 individuals. Park director Luis Marquina said the Pyrenean Ibex dwindled steadily over the past century as a result of poaching, shrinking habitat and environmental factors, in some cases natural disasters like landslides. In 1981, the population was reported to be 30. In 1993 only 10 individuals remained and a management plan to preserve the Pyrenean Ibex was put in place. Celia had become the last of her kind when her fellow died of old age in 1999. The very last living Pyrenean Ibex was found dead on 6 January 2000 under a fallen tree in Ordesa National Park in Spain. Forest rangers in the Northeast of the country near the French border found the 13-year-old female with her skull crushed. The greyish female with slightly curved horns was called Celia.

Source: Peter Maas, extinct animals page 

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The Quagga- August 12 1883, the quagga became extinct when the last mare at Amsterdam Zoo died. It was not immediately  understood that she was the very last of her kind. Because of the confusion caused by the indiscriminate use of the term "Quagga" for any zebra, the true quagga had been hunted to extinction without this being realized until many years later. The Quagga, formerly inhabited areas of South Africa. Like other grazing mammals, quaggas had been ruthlessly hunted. They were seen by the settlers as competitors for the grazing of their livestock, mainly sheep and goats. Now, by breeding with selected southern plains zebras an attempt is being made to retrieve at least the genes responsible for the Quaggas coloration.  

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The Passenger Pigeon, once probably the most numerous bird on the planet, made its home in the billion or so acres of primary forest that once covered North America east of the Rocky Mountains. Their flocks, a mile wide and up to 300 miles long, were so dense that they darkened the sky for hours and days as the flock passed overhead. Population estimates from the 19th century ranged from 1 billion to close to 4 billion individuals. Total populations may have reached 5 billion individuals and comprised up to 40% of the total number of birds in North America (Schorger 1995). This may be the only species for which the exact time of extinction is known.  The Passenger Pigeon was similar to but larger than the Mourning Dove. It had a slate blue head and rump, slate gray back, and a wine red breast. The colors of the male were brighter than those of the femaleOver hunting, the clearing of forests to make way for agriculture, and perhaps other factors doomed the species. The decline was well under way by the 1850’s.  The last nesting birds were reported in the Great Lakes region in the 1890’s. The last reported individuals in the wild were shot at Babcock, Wisconsin in 1899, and in Pike County, Ohio on March 24, 1900. Some individuals, however, remained in captivity.  The last Passenger Pigeon died alone at the Cincinnati Zoo at about 1:00 pm on September 1, 1914.  Her name was Martha.

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The Great Plains Lobo Wolf-  8 types of wolf have become extinct in North America. The Lobo wolf may have been the best known of our wolves.  It inhabited the Great Plains from south Saskatchewan to Texas This was once one of the most numerous of wolves.  It fed on buffalo and antelope.  Naturally  with the destruction of the great herds of the plains, it turned its attention to cattle and sheep.  It was hunted and poisoned. This medium sized wolf measuring 51/2 ft. in length and weighing 75-100 lbs. with very light coloring became extinct in 1926.

We did however find this information on the International Wolf Center website:

The Great Plains wolf (Canis lupus nubilus) is the most common subspecies of the gray wolf in the continental United States. It currently inhabits the western Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada. A typical Great Plains wolf is between 4 1/2 and 6 1/2 feet long, from snout to tail, weighs from 60 to 110 pounds, and may have a coat of gray, black or buff with red-ish coloring. Like all wolves, the Great Plains wolf is a very social animal that communicates using body language, scent marking and vocalization with an average pack size of five to six wolves. The territory size for the Great Plains wolf depends on the type and density of prey. Typical prey for the Great Plains wolf consists of white-tailed deer, moose, beaver, snowshoe hare, and smaller birds and mammals.

The historic range of the Great Plains wolf was throughout the United States and the southern regions of Canada. By the 1930s, Great Plains wolves were extirpated almost eliminated completely, in much of the western United States.

In Wisconsin and Michigan, the Great Plains wolf was eradicated by the mid- 1960s. Only a small group of wolves survived in northeastern Minnesota along the Ontario border. In 1974, the Great Plains wolf in the Great Lakes region became fully protected as an endangered species. By 1978, Minnesota's wolf population had increased enough that the wolf was reclassified as threatened in Minnesota. The Great Plains wolf is found in the Eastern distinct population segment (DPS) categorized under the Endangered Species Act which is now awaiting new legislation to completely remove it from the endangered species list.

The estimated population for Great Plains wolves for 2004 in the United States was over 3,700 wolves. The population was distributed as follows:



Isle Royale






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The Mexican Grizzly-

                   This was the largest native animal in Mexico.

 It weighed over 700 lbs. and often measured over 6 ft. from head to tail. Because of its  coloring, it was often called the Silver Bear, or ‘el oso plateado’,’  the silver one’.The Mexican Grizzly was the first of the American bears to come in contact with Europeans.   Because of the belief that the grizzly was a threat to cattle, the bear had been hunted, trapped and poisoned to such an  extent that it vanished from the South western U.S by 1930. 

 In all of Mexico, it could only be found in the state of Chihuahua.  By 1960 only 30 bears survived and although a few private citizens tried to protect them, ranchers in the region engaged in an intensive campaign of poisoning, trapping and hunting them.  By 1964 the Mexican Grizzly was extinct.

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The Dodo -  

The only verified facts about dodos are these:
They lived on Mauritius and were not seen after 1681.
These birds, descended from pigeons, could not fly as their breast bones would not be able to support the strong muscles needed for flight.
Like many island-evolved creatures, they had grown to huge sizes. Although the actual weight of a healthy adult is unknown, they are supposed to have weighed up to 23kg and would have had a height of a meter (around three feet). They had long, crooked, and hooked beaks, suitable for eating fruits and seeds.
Their faces were bare skin, and they had yellow eyes. The head and body were covered with soft, grey feathers. On the wings and tail they had some longer white feathers.
Dodos had stout yellow legs. Skeleton studies suggest their hip bones were positioned more upright than is usual for a bird.
Their feet had four toes, three facing forward and one, like a thumb, facing back. Each toe had a thick black claw.
There is only one known skeleton of a dodo, which is on display in the American Museum of Natural History. A head and a foot are preserved in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Some fieldworkers have found other dodo skeletons on display; these are, however, not confirmed 

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Kipunji- 2008 –“ Kipunji, we hardly knew ye”. Just three years after it was discovered, a new species of monkey was threatened with extinction according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. Known as the "kipunji," the large, forest-dwelling - Southern Highlands and Udzungwa Mountains in Tanzania -primate numbers 1,117 individuals, according to a study released in the July 2008 issue of the journal Oryx.  The team found that the monkey's range is restricted to just 6.82 square miles (17.69 square kilometers) of forest in two isolated regions.

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