10 Animals that Have Gone Extinct in the Last 100 Years

Nearly 500 species have gone extinct during the last century–and in most cases, we humans are to blame. According to a 2015 study by the National Autonomous University (UNAM), 477 species have disappeared since 1900 due to our degradation and destruction of their natural habitats. The researchers said it was the largest mass extinction of species in history.

Last year, Stanford University biologists discovered declining populations for more than 30 percent of all vertebrates. On average, two vertebrate species go extinct every year. One of the researchers referred to this as “a biological annihilation occurring globally.”

Animals that Have Gone Extinct in the Last 100 Years

These are just some of the animals that have gone extinct in the past 100 years. To help prevent more species from meeting the same fate, the Stanford biologists recommend curbing human overpopulation and overconsumption. Humans must stop believing “the fiction that perpetual growth can occur on a finite planet,” the researchers urged.

1. Passenger Pigeons (1914)

passenger pigeon

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Passenger pigeons, which disappeared just over a century ago, once numbered in the billions and were the most populous birds on Earth. They could reach speeds of up to 60 mph as they flew over North America, the huge flocks actually darkening the sky.

Unfortunately, when Europeans arrived, they found the pigeons to be a source of cheap meat. Every year, tens of millions of the bird were killed. By the early 20th century there was only one captive survivor, Martha, who died at the Cincinnati Zoo in September 1914.

2. Carolina Parakeet (1918)

Carolina parakeet

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Once the only parrot species native to the eastern United States, Carolina parakeets had the heartfelt but dangerous habit of remaining beside injured or dead flock members, making them easy targets for hunters.

Although flocks were still occasionally being observed from New York to the Rocky Mountains in the early 1900s, they had disappeared by 1918, when the last captive Carolina parakeet died at the Cincinnati Zoo – in the same cage where the last passenger pigeon had died four years earlier.

3. Heath Hen (1932)


These hens, native to the northeast U.S., were once known as a source for “poor man’s food.” Although the state of New York passed legislation back in 1791 protecting this species, they continued to be hunted. By the mid-1800s, they could only be found on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Within 50 years, poaching, disease and feral cats led to their near demise. Thanks to a 1908 hunting ban and the creation of a preserve, the heath hen population rebounded to over 2,000. Tragically, a fire six years later killed most of the hens. The last surviving heath hen, Booming Ben, died in 1932.

4. Tasmanian Tiger (1936)

Tasmanian tiger

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Looking more like a dog than a tiger, the Tasmanian tiger was the largest modern carnivorous marsupial. It roamed Australia and Tasmania until its extinction due to hunting, disease, human encroachment and the introduction of dogs. The last known survivor died in captivity at Tasmania’s Hobart Zoo in 1936.

5. Gravenche (1950)

Gravenche

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These freshwater whitefish were once plentiful in Lake Geneva, between France and Switzerland. In fact, over two-thirds of the fish caught in the lake were these bottom feeders, and that’s what led to their demise. The last gravenche was seen back in 1950.

6. Japanese Sea Lion (1974)

Japanese sea lion

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These sea lions used to make their homes in the Sea of Japan, where they were hunted for their skins, bones, fat and even their whiskers.

By the early 20th century, over 3,000 of them were being killed every year, and their natural habitat was pretty much destroyed during the sea battles of World War II. The last unofficial sighting of a Japanese sea lion was about 30 years later, in 1974.

7. Pyrenean Ibex (2000)

Pyrenian ibex

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

This subspecies of the Spanish ibex made the Pyrnees Mountains its home. It’s not known what caused them to start disappearing in the 19th and 20th centuries. By 2000, they were extinct.

A 2009 attempt to clone a Pyrenean ibex failed when the female died shortly after she was born.

8. Caribbean Monk Seal (2008)

Caribbean monk seal

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Hunted since the late 1600s for their meat, fur and oil, the final nail in the coffin for this species was coastal development that led to the destruction of their habitat in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The Caribbean monk seal was declared extinct in 2008. It has the sad distinction of being the first type of seal to go extinct because of humans.

9. Western Black Rhinoceros (2011)


These rhinos used to roam sub-Saharan Africa. Because of poaching, their population dropped to just a few hundred in the 1980s.

By 2001, as demand for rhino horn grew, only five of these rhinos remained on earth. None have been seen since 2006, and the species was officially declared extinct in 2011.

10. Pinta Island Tortoise (2012)

Pinta Island tortoise

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

While these tortoises were once plentiful on this small island, the last survivor—Lonesome George, who was believed to be around 100 years old—died six years ago. The causes of their extinction were being hunted by sailors and fishermen, as well as the introduction of goats to the island, which destroyed the vegetation the tortoises ate to survive.

There may be good news for this species, however: Yale University researchers believe some Pinta Island tortoises may still exist on Isabela Island, the largest island in the Galapagos.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

111 comments

Frances G
Frances G2 months ago

Sad reading

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Linda L
Linda L3 months ago

If this is all heading the way it appears to be heading I am glad I am old enough that I won't be around to witness the worst of it. Love, listen, and laugh every day, cherish each moment, do what you can to make life better while you can

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Amanda M
Amanda McConnell3 months ago

=(

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Amanda M
Amanda McConnell3 months ago

=(

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Amanda M
Amanda McConnell3 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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Carol Johnson
Carol Johnson3 months ago

Thanks for sharing

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David C
David C3 months ago

thanks, sadly noted again....great comments by many ahead of me

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DIane L
DIane L3 months ago

We just keep breeding and acting like we own everything on the planet. Less and less land is available to wildlife as the masses of humans take over. Then we wonder why these animals are gone.

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Cathy B
Cathy B3 months ago

What an appalling legacy we leave :(

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Georgina Elizab M

thank you for the information

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