ThoughtCo / Emilie Dunphy
When it comes to protecting and preserving endangered species, human beings have a sad track record. We can see it in our hearts to forgive our distant ancestors–who were too busy trying to stay alive to worry about the population dynamics of the Saber-Tooth Tiger–but modern civilization, especially over the last 200 years or so, has no excuse for overhunting, environmental depredation, and just plain cluelessness. Here’s a list of 100 animals that have gone extinct in historical times, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.
10 Recently Extinct Amphibians
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Of all the animals alive on earth today, amphibians are the most endangered–and countless amphibian species have succumbed to disease, disruption of the food chain, and devastation of their natural habitats.
10 Recently Extinct Big Cats
You might think lions, tigers and cheetahs would be better equipped to defend themselves against extinction than less dangerous animals–but you’d be dead wrong. The fact is that, for the last million years, big cats and human beings have a poor track record for coexistence, and it’s always people who come out on top.
10 Recently Extinct Birds
Some of the most famous extinct animals of recent times have been birds–but for every Passenger Pigeon or Dodo, there’s a much bigger and much lesser-known casualties like the Elephant Bird or the Eastern Moa (and many other species remain endangered to this day).
10 Recently Extinct Fish
The Blue Walleye, a recently extinct animal.
As the old saying goes, there are a lot of fish in the sea–but there are a lot less than there used to be, as various species of various genera succumb to pollution, overfishing and drainage of their lakes and rivers (and even popular food fish like tuna are under extreme environmental pressure).
10 Recently Extinct Game Animals
Charles R. Knight
The average rhinoceros or elephant needs a lot of real estate to prosper, which makes these animals particularly vulnerable to civilization, and the myth persists that shooting a large, defenseless animal counts as “sport”–which is why game animals are among the most endangered creatures on earth.
10 Recently Extinct Horse Breeds
Frederick York/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Horses are the odd mammals out on this list: the genus Equus persists and prospers, while particular Equus breeds have gone extinct (not because of hunting or environmental pressure, but simply because they’re no longer fashionable).
10 Recently Extinct Insects and Invertebrates
The Xerces Blue, a recently extinct animal.
Considering that literally thousands of snail, moth and mollusk species remain to be discovered, especially in the world’s rain forests, who cares if the occasional moth or earthworm bites the dust? Well, the fact is that these tiny creatures have just as much a right to exist as we do, and they’ve been around for a lot longer.
10 Recently Extinct Marsupials
Sheepbaa/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania are justly famous for their marsupials–but as popular as kangaroos and wallabies are for throngs of curious tourists, there are plenty of pouched mammals that never made it out of the 19th century.
10 Recently Extinct Reptiles
Oddly enough, since the mass extinction of dinosaurs, pterosaurs and marine reptiles 65 million years ago, reptiles as a whole have fared relatively well in the extinction sweepstakes, inhabiting pretty much all the world’s continents. But that’s not to deny that some notable reptile species have vanished off the face of the earth, as witness our list ranging from the Quinkana to the Round Island Burrowing Boa.
10 Recently Extinct Shrews, Bats and Rodents
The reason mammals survived the K/T Extinction was that they were very small, needed very little food, and lived high up in trees–but that doesn’t mean every mouse-sized creature since has managed to avoid oblivion.