Farewell Friends: 10 Animals That Went Extinct in the Last Decade
Not to be a total bummer, but we have sad news to report from our friends in the animal kingdom. Over the past 10 years, many animals have gone the way of the dodo, leaping off this mortal coil to set sail for the sunset beyond the West. And like most tales of modern extinction, humankind has had a heavy hand in these events. From the vast tundras of Siberia to the ecologically diverse Galapagos Islands, all manner of species around the globe threw in the towel this decade. Today we say farewell to 10 such noble creatures whose time on this earth has come to an end.
Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON (Getty Images)
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West African Black Rhino
Believed to be nearsighted, black rhinos would use local birds to help them spot danger. Obviously, that tactic didn't work too well. Some say it was time for these giant, unruly, horned beasts to leave the party. But we say, poachers are the beasts that should be 86ed for life.
Bramble Cay Meolmys
These sweet little buggers were the only mammal living atop the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Considered the first extinction of a mammal species due to anthropogenic climate change, this truly is a tale of mice and men.
These big cats once roamed the northeastern region of North America. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared them extinct in 2018. They're a stark reminder that one day you're here, the next, you're dust in the wind.
San Cristobal Flycatcher
They couldn't fly so hot, but boy could these flycatchers catch flies. Discovered by Charles Darwin in 1835 during his visit to San Cristobal Island, in 2016 they became the first bird species of the Galapagos to reach extinction.
Pinta Island Tortoise
Lonesome George was another native of the beautiful paradise of Galapagos. Yet, due to his being the only known species of Pinta tortoise in the world (and his extremely long lifespan) George spent the better part of his life alone. Known as the "rarest creature on Earth," lonesome George passed away on June 24, 2012.
This rare, yellow-shelled snail could only be found on the tropical island of Oahu. The last known specimen was named George, after the famous tortoise. Unfortunately, George passed away in 2019 at the tender age of 14.
Japanese River Otter
Nobody could get down to Curtis Mayfield like the Japanese river otter. And their fur was so sleek, everyone wanted it. Long ago they numbered in the millions, but the last known sighting of this furry creature was in 1972. After 40 years without a word or a letter, the otter was deemed extinct.
Ever since the discovery of fire, humans have loved to burn things. And when the forests of Brazil went up in flames during Portugal's reign, so did this gorgeous blue Macaw. Hundreds of years of deforestation led to their extinction in the wild, though according to BirdLife International, roughly 70 still live in captivity.
Formosan Clouded Leopard
Endemic to Taiwan, these cute and cuddly cats were killed for their exquisite coats. A search for the last remaining leopard was undertaken between 1997-2012, but none were found. Hope remains that these clever cats are just really good at hiding and will someday return to the animal kingdom.
OK, so this happened 1,000 years ago, but it still drives home the point. Once home to three different species of hippo, Madagascar is now home to none. The arrival of humans on the island had a catastrophic effect on the population as these large water-dancing mammals made for easy hunting. Alas, another ancient organism plucked from the song of life by the hand of a cruel conductor. But don't worry, old friend. In another universe you're still the king of the limbo.