Lonesome George, the last known individual of the Pinta Island Tortoise, subspecies Geochelone nigra abingdoni
Photo: Getty
Decade's EndDecade's EndGizmodo, io9, and Earther look back at our passing decade and look ahead at what kind of future awaits us in the next ten years.

Lonesome George, the last of the Pinta Island tortoises, died in 2012. George’s story is the perfect extinction story. It features a charismatic character with a recognizable face, an obvious villain, and the tireless efforts of naturalists.

The population of the Pinta Island tortoise species was decimated by whalers hunting and eating them during the 19th century. Zoologist József Vágvölgyi discovered George in 1971 and brought him into captivity. No other Pinta Island Tortoises have since been found. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared the species extinct in the wild in 1996, while researchers attempted to breed George with other tortoises to at least preserve his genetic material. But George died—of natural causes—sparking news stories about his life and legacy, which media outlets continue to cover to this day.

But George’s story is not a typical story. Perhaps a better mascot of the extinction crisis is Plectostoma sciaphilum; a small snail, called a “microjewel” for its beautiful, intricate shell, that inhabited a single limestone hill in Malaysia. During the 2000s, a cement company wiped the hill off the map for its valuable resources, rendering the “microjewel” snail extinct.

Scientists estimate that species are going extinct 1,000 times faster than they should be, and “literally dozens” go extinct each day. But these estimates aren’t made from stories about big, rare zoo attractions; most of those victims are likely invertebrates, plants, and other beings you may not think much about. Even figuring out the actual extent of the biodiversity crisis is difficult, given how hard it is to estimate what we don’t know. Earth might be home to anywhere from 5 million to 10 million species, or perhaps a trillion, according to disparate estimates, of which researchers have catalogued less than 2 million. The IUCN’s Red List names only a thousand extinct or extinct-in-the-wild species—but one paper estimated that 7 percent of the known extant species might be extinct, if you include estimates of invertebrate extinctions.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the species that the IUCN declared extinct in the past decade (it does not include species still around but declared extinct in the wild). The list is contains only 160 species, many of which were last seen many years ago or only discovered recently. Generally, it takes decades without a sighting of a species plus dedicated searches before researchers can fully establish that no individuals are left. Declaring a species extinct itself can be an act of giving up, or worse—once a species is considered extinct, governments may no longer feel the need to fund protections for its habitat.

But the trends that connect these 160 extinctions are true of the biodiversity crisis more generally, and the kinds of species it lists, plus how they went extinct, are even more relevant in the present day. In order to create the list, I filtered the IUCN’s red list just to species that scientists assessed as extinct this decade, removed any that had been previously declared extinct in assessments from previous decades, and wrote a summary of what each species was, where it lived, and how and when it went extinct. Certain species had more detailed stories than others.

Study skins of the extinct Lana’i and Kaua’i ‘akiaola
Photo: Paul Sweet/AMNH

Species today typically go extinct due to one or a combination of several factors: humans clearing their habitat, humans purposely or inadvertently introducing invasive species to their habitats, humans polluting their habitats, humans over-harvesting the species for food or other uses, or humans indirectly harming habitats through the effects of climate change. While a fraction of these are rare and charismatic species that occur over a large area, a majority are lesser-known and live only in very limited areas, such as on single mountains, in fragments of habitat, single watersheds, or on islands.

Though they’re not crowdpleasers, these endemic plants and animals serve important purposes in their environment—what biologists call ecosystem services. “These are the services we get for free from the proper function of nature,” Gerardo Ceballos, ecologist and conservationist at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, told Gizmodo. These include maintaining the levels of certain gases in the atmosphere, cleaning the water, pollinating plants, and other services that work better in non-degraded habitats. The problem transcends extinctions, especially when these ecosystem service providers are extirpated from a given range. And studies have documented declines in the overall populations of birds and insects.

“Ecosystems are affected even if species haven’t gone extinct but just exist at a reduced abundance,” Karen Lips, professor in the University of Maryland’s department of biology, told Gizmodo.

Here’s where I’m supposed to tell you that it’s not all doom and gloom, that there’s something that you can do. Yes, it is true that humans can do a lot to stave off a species’ extinction. “We can set aside more protected areas and tread through life more carefully,” Stuart Pimm, Duke University conservation ecology professor, told Gizmodo. Nonprofits are attempting to fight the crisis. But this long list of species declared extinct should show you just how serious the crisis is and how the mere act of humans showing up someplace can precipitate ecological disaster. Have hope, if you are able, but know that it’s going to take serious, coordinated, international effort, some of which may be uncomfortably radical, in order to maintain the health of our planet and the species we share it with and thrive as a species ourselves.

The species the IUCN declared extinct in the 2010s, in alphabetical order:

Acalypha dikuluwensis (Acalypha dikuluwensis)

This plant was endemic to copper-rich soil on the Katanga Plateau, Democratic Republic of Congo. Surface mining probably caused its demise. It hasn’t been seen since 1959, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2012.

Acalypha wilderi (Acalypha wilderi)

This small, rare shrub only inhabited forested areas of the island of Rarotunga in the South Pacific. Humans have since developed many of these areas, and the plant hasn’t been seen on the island since 1929. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Acrocephalus luscinius (Guam reed-warbler)

Acrocephalus is a genus of small, drab songbirds that appear across the world, often on Pacific islands, where they have evolved into new species but face threats from human development. These threats most notably are cleared habitat and the introduction of invasive species like cats and rats. The Guam reed-warbler was a “fairly common” small bird in at least one of Guam’s freshwater swamps until 1968, but since then its population must have rapidly declined, as it hasn’t been seen since 1969. Pesticides, the introduction of the brown tree snake, fires, and habitat destruction combined probably all contributed to its habitat’s destruction. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Acrocephalus musae (Forster’s reed-warbler)

The Forster’s reed-warbler bred in bamboo thickets on two islands of French Polynesia, and naturalists recorded it until the early 1900s. However, human introduction of feral cats and rats to the islands, as well as competing invasive birds like the common myna, probably brought this species to its end. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Acrocephalus nijoi (Aguijan reed-warbler)

The Aguijan reed-warbler appeared in thickets on just one of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific. Naturalists recorded it on the island until 1995 but extensive surveys since haven’t found it. It likely died at the hands of human-introduced cats, rats, and monitor lizards. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2017.

Acrocephalus yamashinae (Pagan reed-warbler)

The Pagan reed-warbler inhabited freshwater wetlands on one of the Northern Mariana Islands. Human development probably cleared enough of the land to render the bird extinct before 1980, but a 1981 volcanic eruption smothered any remaining hope for its survival. Surveys since haven’t turned up any evidence of the bird, which the IUCN declared extinct in 2016.

Aegolius gradyi (Bermuda saw-whet owl)

Recent study of fossils on Bermuda revealed that there was probably a unique species of small owl on the island in the 17th century. The bird would have gone extinct at the hands of colonizers who cleared native trees and brought along invasive predators like cats and rats. The IUCN declared the owl extinct in 2014.

The Oahu ‘akialoa, painted by John Gerrard Keulemans
Illustration: Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

Akialoa ellisiana (Oahu ‘akialoa)

The Hawaiian islands are among the most notable examples of species decline at the hands of humans, epitomized by the decline of a family of finches called the Hawaiian honeycreepers. Like Darwin’s famous finches, these birds evolved a variety of bill shapes and feeding behaviors, filling niches corresponding with Hawaii’s incredibly diverse plant population via adaptive radiation. But less than half of the Hawaiian honeycreepers are still around; their specialized behaviors made them especially susceptible to habitat degradation, and introduced avian malaria confined many their populations to altitudes where mosquitoes can’t thrive. The Oahu ‘akialoa was a small finch with a long, curved bill that ate insects and nectar, but it went extinct due to disease and humans clearing the forest. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Akialoa lanaiensis (Lana’i ‘akiaola)

The Lana’i or Maui Nui ‘akiaola was a honeycreeper known only from three specimens taken in 1892. Like the Oahu ‘akiaola, it likely met its end due to forest clearing and disease. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Akialoa stejnegeri (Kaua’i ‘akiaola)

Observers spotted the Kaua’i ‘akiaola as late as 1969, but this Hawaiian honeycreeper hasn’t been seen since due to habitat destruction and invasive species combined with hurricane damage. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Alburnus nicaeensis (İznik shemaya)

The İznik shemaya was a freshwater fish found in the Lake İznik Basin in Turkey up until the late 20th century. The local fishing industry stocked the lake with other species such as the big-scale sand smelt, which outcompeted the shemaya. Scientists and fisherman haven’t seen the fish in more recent surveys and catches, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Alectroenas payandeei (Rodrigues blue-pigeon)

Fossils showed researchers that a species of blue pigeon existed on the island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean into the 17th century. The shipping industry likely introduced rats to the island around that time, driving the pigeon to extinction before the 18th century. It was retroactively added to the IUCN’s list of extinct species in 2014.

Alinea luciae (St. Lucia skink)

Scientists have thought this Caribbean lizard might be extinct since 1937, due to the introduction of the mongoose. Intense surveys since then have always turned up empty, and the IUCN officially declared it extinct in 2015.

Amaranthus brownii (Amaranthus brownii)

This small plant in the amaranth family lived only on the small, uninhabited Hawaiian island Nihoa. But even the island’s small size couldn’t keep it safe from humans, and the plant went extinct after being out-competed by invasive plants. It was last recorded in 1983, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2018.

Anabarilius macrolepis (Anabarilius macrolepis)

Anabarilius macrolepis was a fish that could only be found in China’s Yilong lake. Humans began using the lake water for agriculture, and its levels declined from the 1950s onward until it completely dried up for 20 days in 1981. The fish hasn’t been seen since, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2011.

Angraecopsis dolabriformis (Angraecopsis dolabriformis)

Angraecopsis dolabriformis is a small flowering plant known only from a single specimen, taken from the island of São Tomé off the Atlantic Coast of Central Africa in 1892. There are few remaining details about the plant, but humans destroyed much of the island’s natural habitat throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and it hasn’t been found since. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2018.

Angraecum astroarche (Angraecum astroarche)

This orchid was found only in a 4-kilometer patch on São Tomé and is known only from a 19th-century specimen. Intensive searches haven’t spotted it since, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2018.

Aphanius splendens (Gölçük killifish)

This fish was only found in Lake Gölçük, a mountain lake in Turkey, but was out-competed by non-native species that humans stocked into the lake to aid fisheries. Scientists have known the fish was extinct since the 1980s, and the IUCN finally declared it so in 2014.

Aplonis ulietensis (Raiatea starling)

The Raiatea starling lived on French Polynesia and is only known from an 18th-century painting of a since-lost specimen. It likely went extinct after humans brought rats to the island, and was officially declared kaput in 2016.

Atherinella callida (Cunning silversid)

The Cunning silversid was a little-known fish that lived in rocky rivers in Veracruz, Mexico. It was last seen in 1957 and likely met its end due to habitat degradation, pollution, and dam-building. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2019.

Basananthe cupricola (Basananthe cupricola)

Basananthe cupricola was a small flowering plant found in only one location on the steppes in Democratic Republic of Congo. It required rare copper-rich soil to thrive and was lost due to mining operations in the area. Intense surveys have failed to turn up the plant since 1980, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2012.

Bermuteo avivorus (Bermuda hawk)

Fossil evidence showed that an endemic hawk lived on Bermuda in the 17th century. The cause if its extinction is unknown, but it was likely due to the introduction of feral pigs or human hunting efforts. The IUCN added this hawk to its list of extinct species in 2014.

Bettongia anhydra (Desert bettong)

Scientists working in the Australian desert have collected only a single specimen of the desert bettong, which looked like a cross between a rat and a kangaroo, so we know little about where or how it lived. It was last seen in 1933 and was probably prey for invasive feral cats and invasive foxes. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Bradycellus chavesi (São Miguel ground-beetle)

This ground-beetle inhabited less than a square mile of land on São Miguel in the Azores in the Atlantic. It was a victim of changing climate, which brought increasing drought to the area. It was last recorded by naturalists in 1919, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2018.

The extent snail Bythinella reyniesii, which looks similar in appearance to other Bythinella snails.
Photo: Dieter Schmitt (Wikimedia Commons)

Bythinella gibbosa (Bythinella gibbosa)

This small freshwater snail was once found around Toulouse, France, but as the city grew, it swallowed up and destroyed the streams in which the snail lived. Naturalists haven’t recorded the species in at least 50 years, so the IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Bythinella limnopsis (Bythinella limnopsis)

Naturalists recorded four species of these freshwater snails in various springs in Tunisia in the 19th century. None have been found in surveys since, so the IUCN declared them extinct in 2010.

Bythinella mauritanica (Bythinella mauritanica)

Naturalists recorded four species of these freshwater snails in various springs in Tunisia in the 19th century. None have been found in surveys since, so the IUCN declared them extinct in 2010.

Bythinella microcochlia (Bythinella microcochlia)

Naturalists recorded four species of these freshwater snails in various springs in Tunisia in the 19th century. None have been found in surveys since, so the IUCN declared them extinct in 2010.

Bythinella punica (Bythinella punica)

Naturalists recorded four species of these freshwater snails in various springs in Tunisia in the 19th century. None have been found in surveys since, so the IUCN declared them extinct in 2010.

Calathus extensicollis (Pico ground beetle)

A large, predatory ground beetle was endemic to the high-altitude forests of Pico, an island of the Azores on the Atlantic. Naturalists last recorded it in 1859, and exhaustive surveys haven’t turned up any evidence since. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2018.

Calathus vicenteorum (Santa Maria ground beetle)

Another large, predatory ground beetle was endemic to the high-altitude forests of Santa Maria, another island of the Azores. Naturalists last recorded it in 1957, and exhaustive surveys haven’t turned up any evidence since. The cause of this insect’s decline was probably climate change increasing the number of droughts on the island. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2018.

Cambarellus alvarezi (Cambarellus alvarezi)

This freshwater crayfish inhabited a single pond in Mexico. It had a stable population before 1989, but intensive groundwater pumping for agriculture shrunk and ultimately dried up the pond. The IUCN declared the species extinct in 2010.

Cambarellus chihuahuae (Chihuahuan dwarf crayfish)

This small crayfish lived in a Mexican desert spring, which has since dried up from agriculture, causing the IUCN to declare the species extinct in 2010. However, in 2015, a team of scientists reported that they had re-found an abundant population of the species in another Chihuahua spring. But this spring, called Ojo Solo, is also at risk of drying up. Scientists recreated a natural area nearby in order to protect the species.

Centaurea pseudoleucolepis (Centaurea pseudoleucolepis)

This flowering plant grew near Ukraine’s Sea of Azov. Naturalists haven’t recorded it since 1930—though it’s possible that it was never a unique species and instead a hybrid of other plants. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2011.

Centrobunus braueri (Centrobunus braueri)

This spider once inhabited the woods on the Seychelles island of Mahé, and naturalists last recorded it in 1894. Invasive cinnamon trees have replaced much of the spider’s original habitat, and it hasn’t been recorded in remaining patches of suitable habitat since. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Chambardia letourneuxi (Chambardia letourneuxi)

Scientists thought this mussel was already extinct when they found evidence of its shells in the Nile Delta, but they re-found live specimens in the early 20th century. It hasn’t been seen since despite extensive surveys, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Lonesome George
Photo: Getty

Chelonoidis abingdonii (Pinta Island tortoise)

Lonesome George was born around 1910 on the Galápagos Island of Pinta. Whalers hunted much of the tortoise’s population during the 19th century, and there were few tortoises left by the time of George’s birth. Feral goats destroyed much of the island’s native forests after they were introduced in 1979, further imperiling the tortoise. József Vágvölgyi discovered George in 1971 and brought him into captivity on another island. Naturalists did not find any other Pinta Island tortoises, despite intensive searches, and the IUCN declared the Pinta Island tortoise extinct in the wild in 1996.

In the meantime, researchers attempted to breed George with other tortoises of the same genus (but different species) in the hope that his genetic information would pass down onto offspring. Despite mating, he produced no viable offspring. George died of natural causes in 2012. Since George was the last specimen of his species, the IUCN declared the Pinta Island tortoise extinct in 2016.

Chenonetta finschi (Finsch’s duck)

Based on fossils, there was once a large, nearly flightless duck that lived in New Zealand’s forests. Evidence seems to show that it lived on the islands up until the 1500s, after which human predation and introduced species brought it to its end. The IUCN added it to their list of extinct species in 2017.

Clelia errabunda (Underwood’s mussurana)

Naturalists had long documented the presence of a large, black, snake-eating snake on the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, which was last recorded in the 1800s. The island faced so many different changes from human presence that it’s unclear what actually brought the snake to its extinction, but there’s no doubt that such a species would be seen if it were still around. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Coenocorypha barrierensis (North Island snipe)

A round, long-beaked brown bird called a snipe lived on New Zealand’s Little Barrier Island and was last seen in 1870. Rampant introduction of feral mammals probably removed it from the North Island before naturalists began keeping written records, which led to the species’ ultimate demise on Little Barrier Island as well. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016

Coenocorypha iredalei (South Island snipe)

Similar to the North Island snipe, the South Island snipe was slowly losing ground to invasive mammals and was found mainly found on New Zealand’s Stewart Island. But the accidental introduction of black rats onto the island in 1964 is what probably led to its final demise, and the IUCN declared the species extinct in 2016.

Colaptes oceanicus (Bermuda flicker)

Scientists recently found the remains of a woodpecker on Bermuda that would have gone extinct around or before the time of colonization, during the 17th century. The loss of native trees, combined with invasive species, are likely what drove it to extinction, and the IUCN declared this bird extinct in 2017.

Columba thiriouxi (Mauritius woodpigeon)

Fossil evidence shows that a small, tree-dwelling pigeon lived on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean as late as 1730. It was easy to catch and likely went extinct at the hands of hunters and invasive black rats. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2017.

Conilurus capricornensis (Capricorn rabbit-rat)

This small nocturnal rat is known only from bones found in an Australian cave, but the bones seem to be from after Europeans arrived in Australia. No living ones have been found yet, though scientists assume that it has gone extinct due to introduced feral cats and changing land use. However, a fresh skull found in 2003 sparked hope that the species might still exist, as no targeted survey for it has yet been carried out. Nevertheless, the IUCN declared this rat extinct in 2016.

Contomastix charrua (Contomastix charrua)

A small lizard representing this species was once found on a granite outcrop in the Uruguayan coastal town of Cabo Polonio. Naturalists have not recorded any since 1977, and it perhaps has died off due to increased human disturbance from tourism during the lizard’s breeding season. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016, though some questions remain as to whether it was simply a variant of another, similar species of lizard all along.

Copeoglossum redondae (Redonda skink)

A kind of lizard called a skink inhabited the rocky Caribbean island of Redonda, part of Antigua and Barbuda. Naturalists first recorded it in 1863, but humans brought goats and rats to the island, decimating the native vegetation the skink relied on and killing the lizards directly. Despite surveys, none of these skinks have been recorded since 1873. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Cyanea eleeleensis (Cyanea eleeleensis)

A 2016 IUCN evaluation declared extinct a group of Hawaiian wet forest shrubs in the Cyanea genus after surveys failed to uncover them. In every case, human-introduced invasive species including pigs, goats, weeds, rats, and invertebrates like snails and slugs were the culprit. Cyanea eleelensis was known from a population of 10 individuals on Kaua’i and was last seen in 1977.

Cyanea linearifolia (Cyanea linearifolia)

Cyanea linearifolia lived in Kaua’i and was last seen in 1957.

Cyanea mauiensis (Maui cyanea)

Cyanea mauiensis lived on Maui and was last seen in 1870.

Cyanea minutiflora (Cyanea minutiflora)

Cyanea minutiflora lived on Kaua’i.

Cyanea parvifolia (Waioli Valley rollandia)

Cyanea parvifolia lived on Kaua’i.

Cyanea sessilifolia (Cyanea sessilifolia)

Cyanea sessilifolia lived on O’ahu and was last seen in 1946.

Cyclura onchiopsis (Navassa Rhinocerous iguana)

An iguana once lived on the small, barren Navassa island in the Caribbean. Naturalists killed the last specimen in 1878, but the cause for extinction is unknown—some blame invasive goats and cats, and others blame mine workers on the island killing the iguana directly. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2011.

Cyperus rockii (Kaua’i flatsedge)

This grass-like plant lived along a stream on Kaua’i. Naturalists last recorded it in 1916, and it has likely gone extinct due to invasive plants and feral pigs. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Cyprinodon arcuatus (Santa Cruz pupfish)

This small fish inhabited Arizona springs and the artificial ponds that they fed, though it likely first lived upstream of the pond in natural marshes. The species probably went extinct as a result of disturbances from water use as well as from the introduction of largemouth bass, and the IUCN added it to the list of extinct species in 2013 after decades without sightings. There’s still a small chance that somewhere, some fish hobbyist has specimens of these fish in their tank.

Cyrtandra olona (Cyrtandra olona)

This shrub lived on the mountains of Kaua’i. Naturalists haven’t recorded it since 1909, and it was likely driven to extinction by invasive plant species out-competing it. The IUCN added it to the list of extinct species in 2016.

Oha
Photo: John K Obata (http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/carr/delissea.htm)

Delissea subcordata (Oha)

Two flowering shrubs in the Delissea genus lived in the lowland Hawaiian forests, and likely went extinct due to competition with invasive plants and animals introduced to the islands. This one lived on O’ahu. While one review found 40 specimens in 2008, the IUCN declared it extinct in 2015.

Delissea undulata (Undulata delissea)

Naturalists haven’t recorded this shrub since 1888, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Dicrogonatus gardineri (Gardiner’s giant mite)

A giant mite lived in the tropical forests of the Seychelles island Mahé, but naturalists haven’t recorded it since 1909. Two recent surveys turned up negative. The mite probably went extinct as invasive cinnamon trees degraded its habitat, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Dryolimnas augusti (Reunion rail)

Scientists found bones from a chicken-looking bird called a rail on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion. Overhunting and invasive rats and cats were the likely culprit behind this bird’s extinction, and the IUCN added it to the list of extinct species in 2014. Rails commonly disperse to islands and then lose the energetically expensive ability to fly in the absence of predators; this bird is closely related to the Aldabra rail that we’ve written about previously. Flightless endemic island rails quickly go extinct when humans arrive and bring along invasive species.

Dusicyon avus (Dusicyon avus)

This once widespread, dog-sized canid inhabited the grassy habitats of the Pampas and Patagonia in South America. Archaeologists found it in graves dating back to the second millennium BCE, and it may have been kept as a pet. It’s unclear when it actually went extinct; radiocarbon dating suggests it was around 326 to 496 years ago, while a dog matching its description appears in 19th century diaries. Hunting and competition with domestic dogs are the likely culprits behind this species’ extinction, and it was added to the IUCN’s list of extinct species in 2015.

Eclectus infectus (Oceanic parrot)

Bones of this parrot have been found on the Pacific Islands of Tonga, and it might have been found on Vanuatu and Fiji as well. Naturalists only described this species recently, but it was likely found up into the 1700s. Overhunting and invasive species are the assumed cause of its demise, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Emoia nativitatis (Christmas Island whiptail-skink)

This lizard was common on Christmas Island as late as the 1970s, where it lived under leaves or on shrubs wherever the sunlight shone through the forest canopy. Scientists began to notice the decline in 1998, and only understood the true scale in 2005—just five years later, it was no longer seen in the wild. The cause of the skink’s extinction is layered, including the introduced yellow crazy ants and wolf snakes, as well as loss of habitat from mining. The last Christmas Island whiptail-skink, a female named Gump, died in captivity in 2014, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2017.

Erythrolamprus perfuscus (Barbados racer)

This 3-foot-long snake inhabited Barbados but hasn’t been seen since it was last found on a schoolyard in 1963. It likely died off due to intense habitat development plus introduced mongooses, cats, and rats. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Eucarlia alluaudi (Eucarlia alluaudi)

Naturalists last recorded this millipede on the small Marianne island of the Seychelles in 1892. The island was completely cleared for farming and then abandoned, leaving behind invasive plants. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Eulophia stenopetala (Eulophia stenopetala)

Naturalists recorded this orchid one time on dry hills in Bhutan in 1859, and it hasn’t been recorded since despite surveys of the relatively accessible habitat. The cause of extinction is unclear but may perhaps be due to road development in the area. The IUCN declared the plant extinct in 2017.

Euphrasia mendoncae (Euphrasia mendoncae)

Naturalists recorded this Portuguese plant once in 1936 in flooded mountain grasslands and did not record it again; it was added to the list of extinct species by the IUCN in 2011. It’s possible that the plant was actually the same species as the extant Euphrasia minima.

Fissidens microstictus (Fissidens microstictus)

This moss once inhabited Portugal’s Madeira Island, but its habitat is now one of the most popular tourist regions on the island. Naturalists haven’t recorded it since 1982. Scientists first assessed it as extinct in 1992, but the IUCN officially declared it so in 2019.

Foudia delloni (Reunion fody)

A weaver—a songbird famous for weaving intricate nests—was once common on Réunion. But the human introduction of rats to the island likely drove it to extinction, and it was last recorded in 1672. The IUCN added it to the list in 2016.

Galba vancouverensis (Galba vancouverensis)

This pond snail inhabited Southern Vancouver Island and the San Juan islands of Washington State. No one has recorded it since 1939, and it likely met its end from human development and the resulting pollution. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2017.

Geonemertes rodericana (Geonemertes rodericana)

This worm was only seen once in rotting, damp forests on Rodrigues Island in Mauritius in 1918. Rodrigues’ forests were cleared for agriculture, leaving the worm without habitat for several decades until replanting more recently. It hasn’t been recorded since then, including during a 1993 search, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Germainaia geayi (Germainaia geayi)

Scientists know little about this mussel. The type specimen seems to be from Madagascar in the 1900s, but its collector also gathered specimens in Australia and New Zealand. If it does come from Madagascar, naturalists haven’t recorded it since then, despite surveys in appropriate habitats, so the IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Habenaria petromedusa (Habenaria petromedusa)

This flowering plant lived on the Atlantic Cape Verde islands and is only known from one specimen collected in 1787. There’s little appropriate habitat left for it, so the IUCN declared it extinct in 2017.

Heleobia spinellii (Heleobia spinellii)

This freshwater mollusk was known only from a single Italian alpine marsh. It hasn’t been recorded since 1850, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Heliotropium pannifolium (St. Helena heliotrope)

This flowering shrub was nearly extinct when naturalists first noticed it in 1810 on the Atlantic Saint Helena Island. Introduced goats damaged the native habitat, followed by invasive plants, which probably destroyed the habitat in which this plant lived. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Hemignathus lucidus (Oahu nukupu’u)

Another honeycreeper with a long, curved bill lived in O’ahu, and naturalists last recorded it toward the end of the 19th century. As with the other Hawaiian honeycreepers, the nukupu’u demise was likely caused by deforestation and invasive species such as rats and mongooses, followed by the introduction of unfamiliar avian diseases like avian pox and avian malaria. Two other nukupu’u species, one on Maui and one on Kaua’i, lived into the late 20th century—but neither has been seen since 1998. The IUCN declared the O’ahu nukupu’u extinct in 2016.

Hibiscadelphus woodii
Photo: Kenneth Wood

Hibiscadelphus woodii (Wood’s hau kuahiwi)

The Wood’s hau kuahiwi, a shrub with bright yellow flowers, was already on the verge of extinction when scientists first described it from four specimens on Kaua’i. It was a member of a genus consisting mostly of extinct or critically endangered plants. Feral goats and pigs, invasive plants, and introduced nectar-robbing birds and herbivorous rats were its main threats. Scientists thought they had lost it when a vandal destroyed the last specimen in captivity in 2011. The IUCN declared the plant extinct in 2016. But then, in 2019, drone-operating researchers spotted three individuals of the species once again on a cliff face on Kaua’i, leaving hope that it may still be saved.

Himatione fraithii (Laysan honeycreeper)

This shorter-beaked, brick-red honeycreeper lived on the Hawaiian island of Laysan, and naturalists recorded it until 1923. The bird was already in decline as invasive rabbits destroyed the plants it relied on for food, but it met its final end in during a storm. It was considered a subspecies at the time, but more recent research promoted it to full species status, and the IUCN added it to the list of extinct species in 2017.

Hirstienus nanus (Hirstienus nanus)

Scientists know little about this spider, which lived on the Seychelles island of Mahé and was last seen in 1908. Invasive cinnamon trees likely destroyed its habitat, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Islamia ateni (Islamia ateni)

This freshwater snail is known from one spring in Spain used as a local swimming and bathing spot. Surveys in the 1990s did not turn it up, and it’s likely that the mollusk went extinct after road construction changed the site. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2011.

Labeo worthingtoni (Labeo worthingtoni)

This bottom-dwelling fish inhabited Lake Malawi in central Africa, where naturalists last recorded it in 1932. It’s not clear to scientists what started its decline. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2018.

Labidura herculeana (St. Helena giant earwig)

This was the largest species of earwig in the world, a hand-sized insect found on the Atlantic island of Saint Helena. Scientists last recorded it on a visit to the island to collect specimens in 1967. The large rocks under witch the earwigs lived were mostly removed for construction, and humans introduced invasive predators like spiders and centipedes, threatening the earwig. Scientists have found remains since, and hope that some are still hiding under a rock in a remote spot, but the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014, regardless.

Leiocephalus cuneus (Leiocephalus cuneus)

This large lizard lived on four islands of the Lesser Antilles, subsisting on smaller pray. No one has recorded it since the 17th century, which is somewhat of a surprise; past reports claimed it was a “bold” lizard that likely would have held its own against invasive rats and mice. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Leiolopisma ceciliae (Réunion giant skink)

Scientists only know about this skink species from remains, and it probably went extinct at least 300 years ago, if not more. The possibility that it might have been around past 1500 led the IUCN to add it to the extinction list in 2019.

Leiorhagium solemi (Leiorhagium solemi)

Scientists last saw this riverine mollusk on New Caledonia in 1928. Human land development, such as increasing fires drying out springs and cutting down forests in favor of introduced plants likely led to its demise, and surveys for it have been unsuccessful. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2011.

Lepidium amissum (Waitakere scurvy grass)

Scientists recognized this grass as its own species far after it went extinct, probably due to human development of the New Zealand coastline. Naturalists last recorded it in 1917, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Lepidium obtusatum (Lepidium obtusatum)

Scientists haven’t seen this cliff-dwelling, fleshy plant since first finding it in New Zealand in 1950, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Lesser stick-nest rats
Illustration: John Gould

Leporillus apicalis (Lesser stick-nest rat)

These rats built giant nests in their habitat of South Australia, nests that were often noticed by early foreign visitors. But they were rare by the early 20th century, already falling victim to invasive feral cats. Aboriginal people reported that the rats’ declined began around the 1930s and 40s. The IUCN had long since declared the species extinct, but a 2008 report claimed that a recently dead large rodent found in a cave in Western Australia might have belonged to this species, so they upgraded the rat to critically endangered. However, assessors returned the species’ status to extinct in 2016.

Logania depressa (Logania depressa)

Naturalists recorded this little-known plant in New Zealand grasslands in 1847 but have not recorded it since. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Loxops wolstenholmei (O’ahu ‘akepa)

The O’ahu ‘akepa was one of several ‘akepas, of which only one still exists today. Scientists last observed this bird in 1930, and it likely went the way of the rest of the honeycreepers, at the hands of invasive species and introduced disease. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016

Macrobrachium leptodactylus (Macrobrachium leptodactylus)

Scientists have only ever collected one of these freshwater shrimp, from Java, Indonesia in 1888. No one has recorded it since, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2013. However, one source claims that the shrimp might have been another species, misidentified.

Margatteoidea amoena (Margatteoidea amoena)

Scientists know this plant from a single specimen taken from the Seychelles island of Desroches, where it was last recorded in 1905. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2012.

Megupsilon aporus (Catarina pupfish)

A small fish once lived in a single spring in Nuevo Leo, Mexico. Human use of the groundwater nearly dried up the spring, while invasive species have been introduced. Naturalists haven’t recorded the fish since 1994. Some of the pupfish remained in aquariums, but their populations were difficult to maintain, and the last fish in the last colony died in Dallas in 2014. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2019.

Melanoplus spretus (Rocky mountain locust)

It’s unclear how one of North America’s most common grasshoppers went extinct; an 1875 report estimates a swarm of the species spanned 110 miles in width by 1,800 miles in length. However, naturalists haven’t recorded it since 1902, perhaps due to changing land use or plowing on their breeding grounds. It’s possible that the insect still exists as a solitary grasshopper that hasn’t entered its migratory swarming phase, but no such evidence has yet been found. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Melicope macropus (Kaholuamanu melicope)

This citrus lived in Kaua’i’s verdant Kalalau valley alongside other native plant species, all of which have been since ravaged by feral goats, pigs, deer, and invasive plants. Observers recorded it in the wild until 1995, but it hasn’t been recorded since, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Melicope nealae (Melicope nealae)

This was another citrus that lived in Kaua’i’s montane forest, and naturalists haven’t recorded it since 1960. The IUCN declared extinct in 2016.

Melomys rubicola (Bramble Cay melomys)

Reports claim that the Bramble Cay melomys was the first mammal species to go extinct directly due to the effects of climate change. This little rodent lived only on a small coral island in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and had begun showing evidence of decline in 1983. Increasing storm surges have begun destroying the island’s native vegetation that the species relied on. Scientists haven’t seen it since 2009, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Mercuria letourneuxiana (Mercuria letourneuxiana)

This mollusk is only known from 19th-century records from a thermal spring that doesn’t exist anymore. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Metazalmoxis ferruginea (Metazalmoxis ferruginea)

This spider, endemic to the Seychelles Island of Mahé, hasn’t been recorded since 1892. It likely met its end due to invasive plant species on the island, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Miconia abscondita (Miconia abscondita)

A small tree lived on the steep slopes of Haiti’s Parc Macaya. It was described as a species in 2015 based on a specimen collected in 1926 and has not been recorded since. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2018.

Myosotis laingii (Waiautoa forget-me-not)

This flower, a forget-me-not, lived on New Zealand’s South Island along rivers but has not been recorded or collected since 1912. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Nactus soniae (Réunion nactus)

Scientists only know about this Réunion gecko species from bones, and the IUCN added it to the list of extinct species in 2019 since it may still have been around after the 1500s. If so, it surely met its match at the hands of invasive species.

Neocnemis occidentalis (Sta Maria weevil)

This weevil lived in a very small area of native forest on Santa Maria in the Azores, and much of its habitat has been lost both due to people and due to climate change. Naturalists haven’t recorded it since 1867, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2018.

Naturalist drawing of Neoplanorbis tantillus
Illustration: Henry Augustus Pilsbry (Wikimedia Commons)

Neoplanorbis tantillus (Little flat-top snail)

This snail lived only in Alabama’s Coosa River. A series of dams built along the river from 1914 to 1967 destroyed its native habitat, and the IUCN declared the species extinct in 2012.

Nesoenas cicur (Mauritius turtle-dove)

Scientists only recently described this turtle dove based on bones found on Mauritius, and it was extinct before early natural history collectors arrived on the island. It likely went extinct from the effects of deforestation and invasive rats. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Nobregaea latinervis (Nobregaea latinervis)

Naturalists have only recorded this moss on the Northeast side of Portugal’s Madeira island, where it lived at the edge of laurel forests but hasn’t been recorded since 1946. It lived close to an area that humans have now developed, and the associated habitat changes likely brought it to its end. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2019.

Notomys robustus (broad-cheeked hopping mouse)

No broad-cheek hopping mice have ever been found alive—scientists only know about it thanks to skulls found in southern Australian owl pellets, bits of indigestible fur and bone regurgitated by owls, in the 19th century. It lived in dry, rocky areas with temporary streams. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Noturus trautmani (Scioto madtom)

Naturalists have only recorded this fish in a single waterway in Ohio called the Big Darby Creek. Surveys have failed to turn it up since 1957, but its cause of extinction is still unknown. The IUCN formally declared it extinct in 2013.

Nyctanassa carcinocatactes (Bermuda night heron)

Wading bird bones showed up on the island of Bermuda, belonging to a heron species that may have lived on the island up until the 17th century. However, hunting and feral cats probably brought it to its end. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Ornithogalum visianicum (Visiani’s star of Bethlehem)

A plant related to the asparagus lived on an island off the coast of Croatia but has not been seen by scientists since 1911. The driver behind its decline continues to be a mystery; aside from a lighthouse and occasional tourists, this island is mostly unaltered from its natural state and receives few visitors. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2018.

Orthomorpha crinita (Orthomorpha crinita)

Scientists collected one specimen of this millipede in 1894 from the Seychelles island of Mahé. It has not been officially recorded since, and like the other extinct species of Mahé, it likely died off due to invasive plants, especially cinnamon trees. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Pacifastacus nigrescens (sooty crayfish)

This crayfish lived only in the San Francisco Bay area, especially in creeks that fed into the bay. No surveys have turned it up during the 20th century, as the invasive signal crayfish took its place and urban development destroyed its habitat. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Pennatomys nivalis (Nevis rice rat)

The Nevis Rice Rat lived on the Caribbean islands of Saint Kitts, Nevis, and Saint Eustatius, and was once a major component of the native peoples’ diet. It appeared in archaeological sites on the island after Europeans arrived and may have been around as late as the 1930s. However, with European settlers always came invasive mammals, such as black rats and mongooses, which likely out-competed the Nevis rice rat. The IUCN officially declared it extinct in 2011.

Peromona erinacea (Peromona erinacea)

Scientists last observed this spider in the woods of the Seychelles island of Mahé in 1892. It has not been officially recorded since, and like the other extinct species of Mahé, probably went extinct due to invasive plants, especially cinnamon. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Pipilo naufragus (Bermuda towhee)

Scientists recently described a new species of sparrow on Bermuda, called the Bermuda towhee, from remains in caves. Like other birds on the island, it would have gone extinct from invasive predators like feral cats. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

A photo of the Christmas island pipistrelle
Photo: Lindy Lumsden

Pipistrellus murrayi (Christmas island pipistrelle)

Christmas Island had just one echolocating bat species, the Christmas Island pipistrelle. The once-common bat lived underneath bark, dead leaves, and in hollow parts of trees. Intense audio surveying of the bat beginning in the 1990s watched the decline occur in real time, as its population receded from its usual range. By 2008, the bat lived in just one foraging area, and by 2009 there were only four of them left. After months of hesitation by the Australian government to approve a captive breeding program, researchers attempted to take the remaining bats into captivity to breed them, but they found only one and could not catch it. Scientists last recorded the presence of that individual on August 27, 2009, and the IUCN officially declared it extinct in 2017.

The cause of this bat’s extinction is still a mystery, since as much as 75 percent of the island’s native forests remained after humans arrived. Invasive species like feral cats, wolf snakes, black rats, and yellow crazy ants may have played a role. The IUCN itself blames the Australian government’s hesitation to approve the captive breeding program for the species’ ultimate demise.

Platytropius siamensis (Siamese flat-barbelled catfish)

This freshwater catfish inhabited rivers and wetlands in Thailand, and despite numerous surveys, hasn’t been recorded since 1975-1977. Damming and canals in the Chao Phraya river, as well as developing wetlands and extreme pollution, are the likely culprit of this fish’s disappearance. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2011.

Plectostoma sciaphilum (Plectostoma sciaphilum)

Scientists found this intricately-shelled snail in just one limestone hill in Malaysia. However, a cement company quarrying the hill for the limestone in the 2000s wiped the habitat off the map, and the snail hasn’t been recorded since 2001. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Pleorotus braueri (Pleorotus braueri)

Scientists know this spider from a single specimen taken from the Seychelles island of Mahé in 1894. It has not been officially recorded since, and like the other extinct species of Mahé, likely went extinct due to invasive plants, especially cinnamon. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Pleurobema perovatum (Ovate clubsnail)

This freshwater mussel lived in the Coosa and Conasauga rivers, part of Mississippi and Alabama’s Mobile River Basin. Scientists have not seen it since the early 20th century despite extensive searches. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2012.

Porphyrio paepae (Marquesan swamphen)

Scientists recently described this small, weak-flying bird in the rail family as a new species, and naturalists last saw it on two Polynesian islands in 1937. It is now extinct; hunting and predation by cats and rats are the likely cause, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Procambarus angustatus (Sandhillls crayfish)

A biologist found a single specimen of this crayfish in the state of Georgia’s sand hills, but follow-up surveyors have not found it in the vaguely described site since 1958. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Prosobonia cancellata (Christmas sandpiper)

Scientists found evidence for this new bird species recently, but it likely went extinct in the 1850s from invasive predators. The IUCN added it to the list of extinct species in 2014.

Pseudamnicola barratei (Pseudamnicola desertorum)

A 2010 IUCN assessment declared eight members of the Pseudamnicola desert snail genus extinct in 2010, after surveys failed to turn any of them up. These snails were extremely sensitive to changes to the springs they inhabited—no water, no snails. This one was last seen in Tunisia during the 19th century.

Pseudamnicola desertorum (Pseudamnicola desertorum)

The thermal spring that hosted this Algerian snail no longer exists, and the IUCN declared the creature extinct in 2010.

Pseudamnicola doumeti (Pseudamnicola doumeti)

Naturalists last saw this snail in Tunisia during the 19th century, and follow-up surveys during the 1970s did not turn up any new evidence of its continued existence. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Pseudamnicola globulina (Pseudamnicola globulina)

Naturalists last saw this snail in Tunisia during the 19th century, and follow-up surveys during the 1970s did not turn up any new evidence of its continued existence. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Pseudamnicola latasteana (Pseudamnicola latasteana)

Naturalists last saw this snail in Tunisia during the 19th century, and follow-up surveys during the 1970s did not turn up any new evidence of its continued existence. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Pseudamnicola oudrefica (Pseudamnicola oudrefica)

Naturalists last saw this snail in Tunisia during the 19th century, and follow-up surveys during the 1970s did not turn up any new evidence of its continued existence. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Pseudamnicola ragia (Pseudamnicola ragia)

Naturalists last saw this snail in Tunisia during the 19th century, and follow-up surveys during the 1970s did not turn up any new evidence of its continued existence. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Pseudamnicola singularis (Pseudamnicola singularis)

Naturalists last saw this snail in Tunisia during the 19th century, and follow-up surveys during the 1970s did not turn up any new evidence of its continued existence. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2010.

Pseudomys auritus (Long-eared mouse)

Scientists only know about this species from specimens that naturalists collected in the 1800s and haven’t recorded it since the 1850s. It was a large rodent that lived in forests, woodlands, and scrubby areas in Australia. The IUCN report explains that large rodents have gone extinct at a disproportionate rate compared to smaller species. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Pseudophoxinus handlirschi (Egirdir minnow)

This freshwater fish lived in a single lake in Turkey, Lake Eğirdir. Biologists haven’t seen it since the 1980s, after it declined from the introduction of a popular game fish, the pike perch. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

The Darwin’s flycatcher, closely related to the extinct San Cristobal flycatcher.

Pyrocephalus dubius (San Cristobal flycatcher)

A shockingly red fly-catching bird was endemic to San Cristóbal Island in the Galápagos, closely related to the vermillion flycatcher. Scientists have reported none since the 1980s, likely due to the effects of invasive rats and botflies as well as the avian flu. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Sanicula kauaiensis (Kaua’i blacksnakeroot)

This perennial herb lived on steep grassy slopes on Kaua’i. Scientists report not having seen any since the 1950s, and its downfall likely came from competition with invasive plants on the island. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Scelotes guentheri (Günther’s Dwarf Burrowing Skink)

This large lizard lived in South Africa but hasn’t been recorded in over 150 years, with invasive plants and animals likely causing its extinction. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2017.

Schiedea amplexicaulis (Ma’oli’oli)

This plant was recorded in Kaua’i and maybe Ni’ihau in Hawaii, but naturalists haven’t recorded it since the 1850s. Like other native Hawaiian plants, it likely went extinct from the effects of invasive species. The IUCN declared it so in 2016.

Sitalcicus gardineri (Sitalcicus gardineri)

This daddy longlegs-like spider once inhabited the Seychelles island of Mahé and was last recorded by naturalists in 1908. The effects of habitat destruction on Mahé probably did it in, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Spirobolellus praslinus (Spirobolellus praslinus)

Biologists last saw this millipede on the Seychelles’ Praslin Island in 1902. Invasive plants destroyed its native habitat, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Stachytarpheta fallax (Stachytarpheta fallax)

Scientists only know about this plant species from specimens collected from the Atlantic Cape Verde islands, taken in 1808. Because observers have made no records of it since, the IUCN declared it extinct in 2017.

Stagnicola pilsbryi (Fish springs marsh snail)

This air-breathing freshwater snail solely inhabited Utah’s Fish Spring, and after scientists collected one in 1968, they haven’t recorded any since. Its disappearance likely came from changes in habitats from projects that diverted and drained the spring. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2012.

Stellaria elatinoides (Stellaria elatinoides)

This annual flowering plant lived on both the North and South Island of New Zealand, along lakes and rivers. Invasive weeds likely changed its habitat enough such that scientists haven’t seen it since the 1940s, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Stipax triangulifer (Stipax triangulifer)

This spider was the only member of its genus and lived on the Seychelles island of Mahé. Scientists last saw it in 1894, and it likely went extinct due to invasive plants changing its native habitats. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Sus bucculentus (Indo-chinese warty pig)

This “warty pig” inhabited southeast Asian forests and hasn’t been recorded since 1892. Scientists only knew it from two skulls, but a skull found more recently gave them hope that maybe it’s still around. However, DNA evidence has demonstrated that these skulls might have belonged to the common wild boar that also inhabits Southeast Asia. After listing it first as “extinct?” and then “data deficient,” the IUCN gave it the status “extinct” once again in 2016.

Tachybaptus rufolavatus (Alaotra grebe)

This diving bird mainly inhabited the area around and including Madagascar’s largest lake, Lake Alaotra, but it didn’t venture much farther, as it was a weak flyer. The last records of the species come from 1986 and 1988, though the last confirmed record comes from a 1982 survey. Extensive surveys have failed to find any since.

Various factors combined likely led to this bird’s extinction. Invasive plants and fish removed its food sources, while agriculture and soil erosion from deforestation lowered the water quality. Farmers converted marshes into rice fields, and it began to hybridize with the little grebe, which colonized Madagascar from Africa. The increasing use of nylon nets for fishing covering much of the lake was probably the nail in the coffin, and the IUCN declared the bird extinct in 2010.

Thomasettia seychellana (Thomasettia seychellana)

This spider lived on the Seychelles island of Mahé. Scientists last saw it in 1908, and it likely went extinct due to invasive plants changing its native habitats. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Mount Wellington
Photo: Bhutt (Wikimedia Commons)

Tokea orthostichon (Schmarda’s worm)

Scientist found a single specimen of this earthworm on Mount Wellington in Aukland, New Zealand over 150 years ago, and it would have lived in dark soil. Though the Maori ate worms of this genus, it was likely killed off by European colonists moving in and replacing native crops with their own invasive species. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2017.

Tribonyx hodgenorum (Hodgen’s Waterhen)

Scientists found remains of this bird on both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, with the newest remains dating to the 17th century. The invasive Polynesian rat and hunting from humans settlers likely drove the bird to extinction, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Trilepidea adamsii (Adams mistletoe)


This partially parasitic shrub lived at forest edges and only on New Zealand’s North Island, but scientists haven’t observed it since 1954. The cause of its extinction is still in question; it was not a common plant and likely met its end from a combination of habitat degradation, loss of pollinating insects, and invasive possums. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Tristramella sacra (Long Jaw Tristramella)

Scientists know this fish solely from the Sea of Galilee in Israel and have not recorded it since 1990. The IUCN implicates destruction of the marsh habitat it spawned in at the north side of the lake as the likely culprit—and this destruction came as the result of water use drying out the area. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2014.

Unio madagascariensis (Unio madagascariensis)

This mussel lived in rivers near Madagascar’s east coast, but biologists haven’t recorded any since 1841, when it was “relatively abundant.” Pesticides and runoff from agriculture were likely the largest threats, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Unio malgachensis (Unio malgachensis)

Biologists collected just one of these mussels during a 1908-1909 survey in Madagascar—and debate still exists as to its precise taxonomy. But none have been recorded since, and the IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Viola cryana (Pensée de Cry)

This French pansy lived solely on the south side of limestone hills in France’s Bourgogne Yonne Departement, but scientists haven’t seen it since 1927. Botanists taking too many for their collections and quarrying of the limestone likely led to its end. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2011.

Vitrea storchi (Vitrea storchi)

Scientists have only seen this snail on rocks of the Island of Chios in the Aegean Sea and have never found it alive. They have found similar-looking snails across from the island on the Turkish Coast, but it’s unlikely that the two are the same species. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2017.

Wikstroemia hanalei (lavafield false ohelo)

This shrub lived in valleys on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, but scientists haven’t observed any since 1897. Like Kaua’i’s many other indigenous plants, it likely went extinct from competition with invasive species, in this case plants, rats, and pigs. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Zonites santoriniensis (Zonites santoriniensis)

Scientists only know about this land snail from remains, and it lived solely on Santorini in the Aegean Sea. A volcanic eruption on the island 1,450 years ago probably killed the last of them, and the IUCN officially declared it extinct in 2017.

Zonites siphnicus (Zonites siphnicus)

This small snail lived on three islands in the Aegean Sea in shrubs on limestone-rich land. Scientists haven’t seen any since 1933-1935. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2017.

Zosterops conspicillatus (Bridled white-eye)

A small yellow bird with a bright eye-ring lived across the Northern Mariana Islands in various habitats, even in urban areas. However, invasive brown tree-snakes probably ate all of them, and observers haven’t noted any since 1983. The IUCN declared it extinct in 2016.

Zosterops semiflavus (Marianne white-eye)

Scientists found evidence of a white-eye that lived on Marianne Island in the Seychelles, though it may have lived on several of the islands. This bird probably went extinct around 1888 from the effects of invasive species, and none showed up in a 1940 trip to find it. The IUCN declared this bird extinct in 2016.

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About the author

Ryan F. Mandelbaum

Senior writer covering physics / Founder of Birdmodo