Extinct Animal Series: Australia Region

Caloprymnus campestris by John Gould (died 1881), book illustration from Mammals of Australia

This is part 3 of our series exploring the extinct animals from different regions of the world. We started this series two weeks ago with North America. As mentioned in the first part, since greedy humans have created a soundless apocalypse in the wild with numerous species disappearing from the face of earth, we intend to cherish and celebrate these poor species from different regions. We explored South America in Part 2. 

The small list of animals extinct in Australia.

  1. Tasman starling: The Tasman starling (Aplonis fusca) was reported in 1836 by John Gould as a species which lived on both Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island. In 1928 Australian ornithologist Gregory Mathews noticed that the plumage of the race from Lord Howe Island was much browner and more greyish than the plumage of the Norfolk Island race and split the species into two forms, the Norfolk starling (Aplonis fusca fusca), and the Lord Howe starling (Aplonis fusca hulliana). Both subspecies are now extinct, thus so the species. 
  2. Lord Howe pigeon:  The Lord Howe pigeon (sometimes white-throated pigeon), was a subspecies of the metallic pigeon which existed on Lord Howe Island. It grew extinct in the 1850s. The Lord Howe pigeon was essentially brown, with a purple head and breast, and a white patch on its throat. The bird was found in an arboreal habitat, especially closed forests. Spread around the lowlands of Lord Howe Island, it is likely the species fed upon fruits and seeds.
  3. Gastric-brooding frog: The gastric-brooding frogs or platypus frogs is a genus of extinct ground-dwelling frogs belonging to Queensland in eastern Australia. The genus consisted of only two species, both of which became extinct in the mid-1980s. The genus is unusual because it comprises of the only two known frog species that incubated the prejuvenile stages of their offspring in the stomach of the mother. The southern gastric-brooding frog was a medium-sized species of dull colouration, with large protruding eyes positioned close together and a short, blunt snout. Its skin was moist and coated with mucus. The fingers were long, slender, sharp and unwebbed and the toes were fully webbed. The arms and legs were large in contrast to the body. In both species the females were larger than the males.
  4. Christmas Island forest skink: The Christmas Island forest skink, also recognized as the Christmas Island whiptail skink, was a species of skink endemic to Australia’s Christmas Island. As of 2017, it is listed as Extinct on the IUCN Red List. The last identified forest skink, a captive individual named Gump, died on 31 May 2014. The Emoia skinks, of which the Christmas Island forest skink was the most ancestral member, are a large group with marked radiation on islands in the Pacific. The forest skink is about 20 cm long, thickset, ground-dwelling, and productive during the day. Its body is a chocolate-brown shade and unpatterned. The species was found in forest clearings, usually in leaf litter. The cause of the species’ rapid decline is still obscure, although circumstances include predation by yellow crazy ants, giant centipedes, wolf snakes, and cats; competition with five introduced reptile species; poisoning from insecticides; and disease.
  5. Desert rat-kangaroo: The desert rat-kangaroo, also called the buff-nosed rat-kangaroo, plains rat-kangaroo or oolacunta, is an extinct small hopping marsupial endemic to desert regions of Central Australia. It was discovered in the early 1840s and described by John Gould in London in 1843, based on three specimens sent to him by George Grey, the governor of South Australia at the time. It was formed like a kangaroo, but had the size of a small rabbit, and was described as having a delicate and slender form. The length of the head and body merged is estimated to be about 254–282 mm in addition to a 307 to 377 mm long tail. Its head was short, blunt, and wide, different from that of any kangaroo or wallaby with a naked nose, short and rounded ears. The color of its dense, straight, soft fur was appropriate for its desert surroundings. It was very pale yellowish brown, the hairs tipped with sooty brown; interspersed with the under fur were many long brownish white hairs. Its underbelly was described as white with very pale yellowish-brown feet and tail. A distinctive characteristic of this species was the difference in size between the fore and hind limbs. Its fore limbs were quite gentle with bones weighing 1 gram, while its hind limbs are large with bones weighing 12 grams. This difference is related to saltation. Other features related to hopping movement include a long, but rather thin tail.
  6. Pteropus brunneus: Pteropus brunneus is an extinct species of flying fox in the family Pteropodidae. It was said to be discovered at Percy Island, southeast of Mackay, Queensland, off the northeast coast of Australia. A more miniature species of genus Pteropus, the weight estimated to be around 200 g (7.1 oz). The length of the head and body combined is approximately 210 mm (8.3 in), the forearm of the single specimen is 118 mm (4.6 in). Fur colour of this macrobat is uniform across the body, a golden shade of brown.
  7. Nancibella quintalia: Nancibella quintalia was a species of air-breathing land snail or semislug, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusks in the family Helicarionidae.

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

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