Today, many species are critically endangered. That means they are on the verge of extinction. Already, many animals that once roamed the earth flew in the air, or swam in the sea are now extinct--and they weren't just from the prehistoric era. Humans and the changes we've wrought on the planet have led to the extinction of many creatures. Once gone, these animals are no more.
Also known as the wild pigeon, the Passenger Pigeon was last seen in the wilds of North America around the year 1900. This bird suffered significantly from deforestation. Losing its habitat led to its serious decline. However, it was hunting on a mass scale that eventually resulted in its extinction. The last passenger pigeon died in captivity in the year 1914.
One of the most famous examples of an extinct animal, the dodo suffered entirely at the hands of humans. This creature was a flightless bird native to the island of Mauritius. From 1598 when the bird was first seen and recorded by sailors in 1662 when the last one was seen, the dodo was hunted and killed for food. It took less than 100 years to drive this animal to extinction.
The Tasmanian tiger was a carnivorous marsupial that was not related to tigers but only named so because of its stripes and slightly similar appearance to the big cats. In reality, this tiger probably looked more dog-like than a tiger. Owing to its loss of habitat, these creatures suffered a reduction in population. Hunting, however, is what ultimately led to its extinction by the year 1920.
The sabre-toothed tiger was a cat of epic proportions. With their sabre-like canines, these fierce predators must have been something to contend with. Scientists believe that the species died out about 11,700 years ago. There are different theories about why they didn't make it. Some believe that reduced numbers of their preferred prey led to their decline. Others believe that climate change and hunting could have also resulted in their extinction.
If you thought brown bears could only be found in the north, think again. A type of bear known as the Mexican grizzly bear was a brown bear subspecies that was native to the region of Mexico. The bear competed with ranchers and didn't win. By 1964, these bears were listed as entirely extinct.
The explorer, Christopher Columbus himself, recorded how he had killed a couple of these seals which, at least in his day, were still plenty. These seals were officially declared extinct in 2008, but the last one was seen as far back as 1954. The seals had a lot of personality, according to people who witnessed them spit water from their mouths. The creatures were hunted to extinction because of their blubber that could be used for fuel.
A subspecies of the plains zebra, the quagga looked much like a zebra with its stripes. However, this creature's stripes only adorned the front portion of its body--not the rear. Quaggas lived mainly in the region of present-day South Africa. Loss of habitat and hunting led to its extinction in the wild by 1878. Ten years later, the last quagga in captivity died.
The last stellar's sea cow was seen in 1768. These large marine creatures suffered extensively at the hands of Europeans. In fact, from the first time Europeans recorded them, it only took 30 years for humans to kill them all for their meat, hides, and fat. Today, its closest relative is the dugong, another creature that is struggling against possible extinction.
Finally driven to extinction in the 21st century, the West African black rhino was last seen in the country of Cameroon in 2006. In 2011, it was officially declared extinct. This mighty two-horned creature was hunted to extinction. Some people believed the creatures' horns possessed medicinal properties, but that belief has never been scientifically proven. Poachers hunted and killed this species until it was no more. Today, its various cousins are listed as endangered.
The mighty woolly mammoth must have been a fierce beast to behold. This creature, according to scientists, would have weighed more than 6 tons. Covered in fur, these creatures sported long, curved tusks similar to those of elephants. Scientists believe that loss of habitat because of climate change and hunting by humans led to their extinction about 10,000 years ago.