Extinct Animals Series: Africa

Elephant bird

This is part 5 of our series exploring the extinct animals from different regions of the world. Part 4 studied Extinct Animals in Russia.

Time to explore Extinct Animals in Africa

  1. Algerian wild ass:  Algerian wild ass is an extinct subspecies of the African wild ass that once roamed across North Africa and parts of the Sahara. Wild Ass Bones have been discovered in several rock shelters across Algeria and Morocco by paleontologists. While the presence of various rock art depictions and Roman mosaics leaves no doubt about the past existence of African wild asses in North Africa, it has been alleged that the original bones belonged to a fossil zebra. Based on old pictures, the Atlas wild ass had stripes on its legs and a collar cross. 
  2. Atlas bear: Atlas bear is an extinct subspecies of the brown bear in North Africa. The Atlas bear was Africa’s only original bear that lasted into modern times. Once occupying the Atlas Mountains and neighboring areas, from Libya to Morocco, the animal is now considered extinct. The Atlas bear was brownish-black and lacked a white mark on the muzzle. The fur on the underparts was reddish-orange. The coat was 4–5 inches long. The claws and muzzles were less than those of the American black bear, though it was more durable and thicker in the body. The Atlas bear was said to have been 9 feet long and weighed up to 1,000 pounds. It fed on roots, acorns, and nuts. The Atlas bear was said to have been principally herbivorous, but since most bears today are omnivores, the Atlas bear is thought to have been able to eat meat as well.
  3. Desert warthog: The desert warthog is a class of even-toed ungulate in the pig family, located in northern Kenya and Somalia, and possibly Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. This is the range of the extant subspecies, commonly known as the Somali Warthog. Another subspecies, widely known as the Cape warthog, became extinct around 1865, but formerly transpired in South Africa.
  4. Palaeopropithecus: Palaeopropithecus is a recently extinct genus of giant sloth lemurs from Madagascar related to current lemur species. Palaeopropithecus originally lived in the trees to stay away from predators as well as to gain valuable resources. To survive correctly in the trees, Palaeopropithecus had deep and powerful arms and legs, each with long fingers and toes to allow them to hang upside down on branches. These were used to jump from branch to branch to travel across the forest of Madagascar. The Palaeopropithecus classes were folivorous based on dental morphology, consuming a blended diet of foliage and fruits. They supplemented their leaf-eating with large amounts of seed-predation, much like modern indrids.
  5. Dodo: The dodo ( is an extinct flightless bird that was endemic to Mauritius’s island. The first recorded mention of the dodo was by Dutch sailors in 1598. In the following years, the bird was hunted by sailors and invasive species, while its habitat was being destroyed. The last widely accepted sighting of a dodo was in 1662. The extinction of the dodo within less than a century of its discovery called attention to the earlier unrecognized human association problem in the removal of entire species. 
  6. Mauritius owl: The extinct Mauritius owl was endemic to the Mascarene island of Mauritius. The Mauritius owl was the biggest carnivore on the island before human settlement. Thus, unlike other local species of birds, it was not much affected by predators such as rats, crab-eating macaques, and cats.
  7. Elephant bird: Elephant birds are members of the extinct ratite family, Aepyornithidae, who are made up of large to enormous flightless birds that once lived on Madagascar. They became extinct, possibly around 1000–1200 CE, apparently as a result of human activity. They reached weights of 730 kg and stood 9.8 ft tall, making it the world’s most giant bird. 
  8.  Koala lemur: Megaladapis, informally known as koala lemur, is an extinct genus relating to the family Megaladapidae, comprising three extinct species of lemurs that once inhabited the island of Madagascar. The largest averaged between 1.3 to 1.5 m (4 to 5 ft) in length. When humans arrived on Madagascar over 2,000 years ago, there were at least 17 species of now-extinct “giant” lemur, including Megaladapis. The place in which giant lemurs were found was mostly forested areas with thick vegetation. Almost immediately after human arrival, there was an accelerated decline in the spores of Sporormiella, indicating a decrease in megafaunal biomass. Charcoal microparticles being found in surveys of various areas in Madagascar give evidence to the fact that human habitat alteration only occurred after this decline in megafaunal biomass. Charcoal deposits provide proof that humans used fire to clear large pieces of land very quickly. The territories that Megaladapis once lived in were very well adapted to be turned into grasslands, which contributed little to no cover from outside forces for these creatures. Humans lead the decisive push to extinction for these lemurs 500 years.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.