Recently Extinct Megafauna
Not ‘cavemen hunted these’ recently extinct. Recently extinct as in ‘16 to 20 human generations ago’.
What: The ancestor of domestic cattle
Where: 3 subspecies found throughout Northern Africa, Europe, and India
Fun fact: They were mentioned in the Hebrew bible as re’em and mistranslated in the king James version as unicorns. There are numerous programs to revive the species
What: One of the largest flighted bird to have ever lived
Where: New Zealand
Fun Fact: It’s been speculated that the ‘giant hawk’ Maui transforms into in Disney’s Moana is a reference to this eagle, which still has cultural significance for the Maori people of NZ, and is known as Pouakai in legends
What: Subspecies of plains Zebra
Fun Fact: It was the first extinct animal to have it’s DNA analyzed and there are efforts to revive the species. Though there are some triumphant sounding articles there, true quaggas are not back from the dead. We’re getting close now, and have 6 individuals now classed as ‘Rau quaggas’
Stellar’s Sea Cow
What: Massive sirenian mammal related to the modern dugong
Where: Bering Sea
Fun Fact: It was declared extinct just 27 years after discovery by Europeans.
What: Marsupial carnivore
Where: Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea
Fun Fact: There are purported sightings more than any other animal on this list. Many people believe this animal might still be out there
What: Immense flightless bird
Where: New Zealand
When: By 1445
Fun Fact: These gigantic birds were the prey of choice for the aforementioned Haast’s eagle. When humans destroyed the Moa population, the eagle was starved out.
Mexican Grizzly Bear
What: Exactly what it’s name suggests
Where: Northern Mexico to southern Arizona and New Mexico
Fun Fact: Like the Tasmanian tiger this bear might still be out there. The species was declared extinct in the 60′s, however, a brown bear was shot in Sonora in 1976
What: Gigantic flightless bird
When: By the 1700s
Fun Fact: They have the largest recorded egg size of any bird, with their eggs weighting up to 22 lbs.
What: Large subspecies of elk
Where: Eastern USA
When: The last confirmed eastern elk was shot in 1877
Cause: Bullet (humans)
Fun Fact: This elk could weigh up to about 1,000lbs and could have antlers 6 feet in length. Another subspecies, Merriam’s elk, went extinct around the same time but once lived in southwestern USA.
What: Giant lemurs
When: By the 1500s
Fun Fact: These were relatively human sized lemurs, growing 4-5 feet tall (the average male chimpanzee stands at just under 4 feet)
What: The Hokkaido and Honshu wolves of Japan
When: By the 1900s
Fun Fact: These wolves were purposefully exterminated with mass poisoning efforts by an American hired by the Japanese government.
* Some of these animals aren’t technically megafauna; I’m being lose with the term. The thylacine is about 30 lbs shy of the marker, the Japanese wolves fall a little short, and Haast’s eagle falls well below.
** I’ve left out some of the more recent and / or better known animals; I wanted to focus on animals I feel are slipping from general memory.
*** There are actually several subspecies of Moa, though I’ve lumped them together as they all met the same fate around the same time.