Extinct Animal Facts
Scientists are worried about the high rate of recent animal extinctions in the world. It is estimated that approximately half of the species alive on earth
today may become extinct within the next 75 years. What are the causes of this alarming rate of extinctions and why are so many species endangered? Below we
will explore these questions.
This site will supply pages of interesting extinct animal facts and list both recently extinct animal facts and information
about prehistoric extinct animals. There is information on mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects; some of the animal names, like the Dodo Bird, will be
familiar to every school kid and others will not be as commonly known.
Definition of Animal Extinction
By definition an animal is considered extinct when the last member of the species dies. This is not always an easy thing to determine; sometimes a species
may be extinct for many years before it is recorded as such. This is often due to the fact that many animals have a wide range for their habitat and although
not observed for many years scientist are just not sure if there may be some still alive. There have been cases where a species is considered extinct and
then, often years later, reappears. An example of this is the Okapi. This animal which lives in Africa and looks like a cross between a giraffe and a zebra
was thought to be extinct. After decades of no sightings they were finally spotted roaming in a national park in the Congo. In fact approximately one third
of mammal species that scientist classified as extinct, possibly extinct, or missing were found to still be alive. Often they are found outside of what was
considered to be their habitat range; often pushed out by expansion of human settlements.
Facts about Why Animals Become Extinct
- Although we tend to blame humans for animal extinction we are in fact not the cause of most animal extinctions. Extinction is most often a natural process and almost all species that have ever existed are now extinct.
- Natural extinction occurs due to animals not being able to survive in a changing environment. These changes may involve weather, new predators, changes in food sources, and new competition for food sources.
- Humans have been responsible for numerous extinctions. One example is the Passenger Pigeon which was hunted to extinction; the last one died in 1914. Another example is the Dodo bird which vanished from the earth in the late 1600s due to hunting and loss of its habitat.
- Humans cause animal extinctions in many ways. Some of these ways are listed below. More often than not it is a combination of two or more of these factors that leads to the animal's demise. Sometimes these human factors combine with natural causes to result in the extinction. For example the Tasmanian tiger (thylacine) was hunted, killed by dogs, and suffered from diseases.
How Humans cause animal extinctions:
- Hunting (sometimes for sport and often because the animal is regarded as a pest).
- Habitat destruction due to agriculture, urban sprawl, and logging.
- The introduction (by humans) of other animals that kill the threatened animal.
List of Extinct Animal Facts
- Scientist believe that about 99 percent of all species that have ever lived are extinct.
- There have been many animals once thought extinct that are not; they include the Christmas Island shrew, Flying Fox (Solomon Islands), and the Australian
central rock rat.
- Sometimes a particular species will become extinct only in a particular area but can be found elsewhere. This is referred to as "local extinction".