Extinct Animal Series: North American Region

Navahoceros fricki (Schultz & Howard, 1935) - fossil cave deer skeleton from the Pleistocene of New Mexico, USA. (public display, Nebraska State Museum of Natural History, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA) Classification: Animalia, Chordata, Vertebrata, Mammalia, Artiodactyla, Cervidae Locality: Guadalupe Mountains, southeastern New Mexico, USA

Hi again, today we are starting a new article series revolving around the characteristics and features of extinct animals from different regions of the world. Humans have created a silent apocalypse in the wild with numerous species disappearing from the face of earth. This is the sad reality and our intention is to remember and immortalise these poor species from different regions.

Part 1 of this series will focus on the recent extinct animals from North American Region.

This is a small list of extinct animals of North America.

  1. Sea mink: The sea mink is a recently extinct species of mink that lived on the eastern coast of North America in the family Mustelidae, the largest family in the order Carnivora. It was most closely related to the American mink. The only known remains are bone fragments unearthed in Native American shell middens. Its actual size is speculative, based largely on tooth remains. Since the sea mink has only been described by fragmentary remains, its appearance and behaviors are not well-documented. Its relatives, as well as descriptions by fur traders and Native Americans, give a general idea of this animal’s appearance and its ecological roles. Accounts from Native Americans in the New England/Atlantic Canadian regions reported that the sea mink had a fatter body than the American mink. The sea mink produced a distinctive fishy odor, and had fur that was said to be coarser and redder than that of the American mink. It is thought that naturalist Joseph Banks encountered this animal in 1776 in the Strait of Belle Isle, and he described it as being slightly larger than a fox, having long legs, and a tail that was long and tapered towards the end, similar to a greyhound.
  2. Torre’s cave rat: Torre’s cave rat (Boromys torrei) was a species of rodent in the family Echimyidae. It was endemic to Cuba. Its natural habitat was subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests. Very little is known about the cave rat.
  3. Smith Island cottontail: Smith Island cottontail, Smith’s Island cottontail or Hitchen’s cottontail, was a subspecies of the Eastern cottontail rabbit that lived mainly on two islands on the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula in Virginia. It is generally considered to be extinct. The Smith’s Island cottontail was paler, had a less contrasting brown coloration, and lacked a black stripe on the ears. Its fur was also heavier and coarser, which gave it a “shaggy” appearance.
  4. Lesser Antillean macaw: The Lesser Antillean macaw or Guadeloupe macaw is a hypothetical extinct species of macaw that is thought to have been endemic to the Lesser Antillean island region of Guadeloupe. In spite of the absence of conserved specimens, many details about the Lesser Antillean macaw are known from several contemporary accounts, and the bird is the subject of some illustrations. Du Tertre gave a detailed account of the behavior of the Lesser Antillean macaw in 1654:

    This bird lives on berries, and on the fruit of certain trees, but principally on the apples of the manchioneel (!), which is a powerful and caustic poison to other animals. It is the prettiest sight in the world to see ten or a dozen Macaws in a green tree. Their voice is loud and piercing, and they always cry when flying. If one imitates their cry, they stop short. They have a grave and dignified demeanor, and so far from being alarmed by many shots fired under a tree where they are perched, they gaze at their companions who fall dead to the ground without being disturbed at all, so that one may fire five or six times into the same tree without their appearing to be frightened.
  5. Martinique amazon: The Martinique amazon is a hypothetical extinct species of Caribbean parrot in the family Psittacidae. It is not known from any material remains, but was said to be similar to the red-necked amazon (A. arausiaca) from Dominica, the next major island to the north of Martinique. Assuming it was a genuine and distinct taxon, it was endemic to Martinique and became extinct due to habitat loss as Martinique was cleared for agriculture. It has not been recorded since 1722.
  6. Tyto pollens: Tyto pollens was an extinct giant barn owl which lived in the Bahamas during the last Ice Age. It is only known from the partial remains of three individuals which have been collected on the islands of Little Exuma (the site was misidentified as on Great Exuma in the original literature) and New Providence. Alexander Wetmore initially described the species from fossils of a single individual from Little Exuma site which are the holotype: a complete coracoid, a proximal end of the ulna, a major metacarpal lacking the proximal end and the complete femur. The femur is 81.2mm in length. Both palaeontological sites are from before the arrival of humans (the Lucayans) to the islands. 18,000 years ago, the sea level was 120 metres lower than today and the Bahamas existed as at least five major islands, with a land mass over 10 times the modern size.
  7. Mexican grizzly bear: he Mexican grizzly bear is an extinct population of the grizzly bear in Mexico. Known in the Opatas language as the pissini, the grizzly was one of the heaviest and largest mammals in Mexico. It reached a length up to 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in) and an average weight of 318 kilograms (701 lb). Due to its silver fur, it was often named in Spanish as el oso plateado (the silvery bear). The Mexican grizzly was smaller than the grizzlies in the United States and Canada. The general color was pale buffy yellowish varying to grayish-white, grizzled from the darker color of the underfur. Specimens in worn pelage varied to yellowish-brown and reddish. The longest fur hairs were on the throat and the flanks. The belly was sparsely haired, lacking the thick underfur of the back and the flanks.

There are over a thousand other species from the wild which got extinct in North America, but we have covered the 7 recent extinctions above. Save our planet, stop messing with nature.

Source: Britannica, Wikipedia, The Atlas of World Wildlife, The Game Birds and Mammals,.

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