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Top 10 Extinct Animals

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script Written by Eliot Baker. They may be gone, but their myths and legends shall live on. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 extinct animals. For this list, we’re considering animal species that are no longer walking the Earth - whether due to natural causes or human intervention. We’re excluding dinosaurs for now, since there are just so many of them, we could probably give them a list all their own. Special thanks to our users Spideyfan-0913, Leo Lazar Jakšić, mac121mr0, Jsmith94243, Kristoff Downer, Vitto Galiano, Joao S, Teh Kao Yang and Lloyd Eksteen for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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They may be gone, but their myths and legends shall live on. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 extinct animals.

For this list, we’re considering animal species that are no longer walking the Earth - whether due to natural causes or human intervention. We’re excluding dinosaurs for now, since there are just so many of them, we could probably give them a list all their own.

#10: Ground Sloth

What once was a unique beast that thrived during the Ice age periods is now known for associating with a dim-witted animated film character. Upon their extinction over 10 000 years ago, it’s believed to be no coincidence that the deaths of the ground sloth are linked to humanity’s entry into the North American regions – though climate change was also a factor. With large and dangerous looking claws, speculation remains to this day about whether this variation of sloth only used them to collect bark from trees, though it’s most likely that these mammals were herbivores.

#9: Baiji

Commonly referred to as the Chinese river dolphin, the majestic creature could only be found in the Yangtze River in the Asian country where it got its name. Affectionately nicknamed the Goddess of the Yangtze, the Baiji became victim to the growing advances and industrialisation of modern China that led to massive water pollution. Repeated efforts were made to conserve the species, but an expedition in 2006 failed to discover any remaining Baiji in the river. The last living Baiji, known as ‘Qiqi,’ died in 2002.

#8: Eurasian or European Cave Lion

People tend to associate the king of the jungle as a largely African species, but this extinct Eurasian subspecies may prove otherwise. Speculated to have become extinct around 10, 000 years ago, these beasts were huge; on average, over 7 feet long without the tail and could weight seven hundred pounds. Massive in size and a massive tongue twister to say - as their official name is the ‘Panthera Leo Spelaea’, their fates were sealed when settlers made their way into their homes, and the rest is, as they say, history.

#7: Irish Elk

Despite its name, this species of deer was not exclusive to Ireland, making its way across Eurasia and Northern Africa for thousands of years. The Irish elk is known for being the largest species of deer ever found, as they could have stood at twelve feet with antler height included. Unable to survive subarctic conditions, which caused a lack of good food, it’s been suggested that the last of these deer may have died about eleven thousand years ago in Ireland, hence its given name. Others may have survived the ice age through Europe, but were probably hunted down.

#6: Elephant Bird

Native to Madagascar, these ostrich look-a-likes are believed to have come to an end in the 17th or 18th century. While it is not fully known how the birds died out, it’s believed that human activity is the number one suspect. Initially widespread across all areas of the island, there’s evidence of their homes being demolished, while the birds themselves were hunted, which led to their untimely demise. Fossilised eggs of the species have remained and have become an increasingly priceless commodity across museums to this day.

#5: Quagga

Despite its adorable name, this subspecies of zebra is no more. Native to South Africa, the quagga became victim to the hunting of early Dutch settlers and later by Afrikaners to provide meat and skins. Disappearing mostly in the 1850s, the wild Quagga became officially extinct a few decades later, though some captured ones could be found in zoos. On August 12th, 1883, the very last captive specimen died, writing the final entry into the lifespan of this impressive species.

#4: Saber-Toothed Cat

Misleadingly known as a saber-toothed tiger, these predators were vastly known far and wide for their curved and massive canine teeth. Despite officially having the ‘cat’ in their name, they’re not closely related to the modern animals and were in fact more agile, choosing to pounce from trees and then attacking with their almost foot-long teeth. With the Smilodon being the most well-known, these mammals’ vicious nature proved to be their downfall at the end of the last Ice Age, as most of their chosen prey had either died out or had ironically been hunted by the cats themselves. Thus the saber-tooth cat became extinct through its own means of hunting.

#3: Dodo

Most of us have seen the animated movie “Ice Age”, you can recall a joke that implied this famous bird died out during that time period, but this is actually untrue. Due to their hunting by Dutch sailors that had arrived on the island of Mauritius, the flightless bird became extinct; however, their official extinction was only confirmed in the 19th century, despite their increasing rarity in the 17th century. Slow and unafraid of humans, the dodo was only a little over 3 feet tall and between 25-45 pounds but achieved contemporary fame by appearing in pop culture, like Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

#2: Thylacine

Best known as the Tasmanian tiger, this is the first purely nocturnal creature to make our list. Evidence suggests that these native Australians were very shy in nature and became extinct in the mainland around two thousand years ago, yet survived until the 1930s in Tasmania – there are even some people who think the Thylacine still exists today. General sightings were reported across Western Australia and Tasmania until 1980, leading to a vested interest in the species once again. In 1983, Ted Turner offered a $100,000 reward for proof that these carnivorous marsupials are still alive. While the Thylcine is still considered extinct, the reward is still out there, so everyone keep looking!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Aurochs
- Great Auk
- Passenger or Wild Pigeon
- Steller’s Sea Cow
- Homo Floresiensis or Flores Man

#1: Woolly Mammoth

Truly one of the animal giants, it remains the greatest shame that this mammoth species is no longer with us. Surviving through the Ice Age thanks to its obvious woolly exterior, the mammoths coexisted with human life for years in the new world. Humanity used the prehistoric elephant for tools and homes. However, with the shift in climate, the Mammoths started losing grasp on their homes and safety and migrated to other pastures. The last living population remained on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean until four thousand years ago, where these woolly mammoths would finally conclude their existence.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite extinct animal? For more historical top tens published every day visit Watchmojo.com and don’t forget to subscribe.
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