Discover the World's Recently Extinct and Rediscovered Species!
Explore this website to learn more about the many recently extinct and rediscovered plants and animals (and other living things!).
The dodo, the thylacine, Steller's sea cow, the passenger pigeon, the great auk, the Saint Helena olive, and countless other animals and plants have recently become extinct. Most driven to extinction by us humans. And while some species are rediscovered each year, the Tree of Life is slowly dying, whole branches falling to the ground from the canopy.
Evolution and extinction, the arisal and destruction of populations, are entirely natural events. Ones which have happened many times over the Earth's long geological history. The last of the dinosaurs were killed off during the K-T Boundary Extinction Event, probably as the result of an asteroid collision somewhere in the Yucatan Peninsula off the coast of modern day México. But although both geologically sudden and taxonomically discriminating there was nothing "unnatural" about the death of the dinosaurs. Each species lasts only a finite time before all its members either cease to exist, or evolve and give rise to a new species (termed phyletic extinction). But the rise of our own species, followed by our spread across the planet, now poses an unnatural threat to the world's biodiversity.
Indeed very few of the thousands of species believed to have become extinct within the last 100,000 years died out naturally. In most cases negative human influence was the cause of their disappearance. Through habitat modification and destruction, introduced pests and diseases, persecution and simple inaction. These are just some of the resons for their extinction. And our impact upon the world's species isn't simply limited to influencing their short-term fate. Over the long term the loss of genetic diversity may have an impact upon evolution on a post-human planet. Species may fail to adapt to their dynamic environments as a result of lost genetic diversity suffered thousands or millions of years previously.