1. Great Auk
Hunted for its meat and feathers, the Great Auk was last spotted in 1852. This flightless seabird lived on the East Coast of Canada and the United States, Greenland, Iceland, and the British Isles. It spent most of its time in the water, coming ashore to breed. In 1844, the last known pair of nesting Great Auks were captured and killed.
2. Mexican Grizzly Bear
Slightly smaller than North American grizzly bears, and sporting golden or silvery coats, Mexican grizzlies were native to northern Mexico, and parts of New Mexico and Arizona. To protect their lands from these supposed pests, cattle ranchers killed them. Researchers believe that they were extinct by 1969.
3. Carolina Parakeet
Seen as America’s only native parrot species, these small and colorful birds lived in America’s Southeast. They were concentrated in Florida, Georgia, and the coasts of Carolina, but also spanned Colorado to New York. The last captive Carolina parakeet died in 1918 at the Cincinnati Zoo. Researchers don’t know why they went extinct.
4. Caribbean Monk Seal
Once found throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and the only species of seal native to the region, it’s believed to be the first species of seal that humans wiped out. Last seen in 1952, hunters poached resting seals while they nursed on beaches. In 2008, the seals were listed as extinct.
5. Florida Black Wolf
Initially, thought to be a subspecies of the coyote or the gray wolf, researchers now hold that the Florida Black wolf may be a genetically distinct species. The dark-furred wolves lived in Florida until around 1908 when they were officially declared extinct after being hunted and crowded out of a habitat shared with the Florida red wolf.
6. Passenger Pigeon
With migrating flocks made up of hundreds of millions of birds, the passenger pigeon thrived in the early 1800s in America, taking hours for a flock to pass by. Shockingly, due to hunting, those same flocks consisted of just a few dozen birds by the 1890s. The last living passenger pigeon passed away in Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.
7. Hare Indian Dog
Bred by First Nation tribes, the Hare Indian Dog was a type of “coydog”, a domesticated breed of a coyote or domestic dog crossed with a coyote. These medium-sized, long-haired canines were used for hunting. As traditional hunting methods changed, the Hare Indian dog was slowly bred with domestic dogs, until it disappeared in the 1800s.
8. Heath Hen
Roughly the size of a standard chicken, with striped feathers and ‘horns’ on the back of their heads, they were found throughout the East Coast of the United States until 1932. Heath hens are closely related to the now vulnerable, greater prairie chicken which lived throughout the Midwest. The heath hen is a candidate for being revived by science.
9. Eastern Elk
Found alongside herds of bison and small deer throughout the Northern and Eastern US, the eastern elk was a subspecies of North America’s once-thriving elk population. Heavily hunted by Europeans, in 1905 Theodore Roosevelt noted their dwindling numbers. According to researchers, these elk are extinct. A New Zealand elk population, stemming from a group of 18 eastern elk, may hold the key to their reintroduction.
10. Salish Woolly Dog
The Coast Salish tribes of the Pacific Northwest, including Washington and British Columbia, sheared the Salish woolly dogs each year, using their fur to weave blankets by mixing it with mountain goat fibers. In the 1900s, the breed sadly became extinct. It’s a shame, as it looks like it could’ve been an adorable furry companion for humans today.
11. Giant short-faced bear
Known by the genus Arctodus, this enormous omnivore is still thought to have been one of the largest land mammals in history. The larger of the breeds is thought to have only died off around 16,000 years ago in a similar vein to many other huge mammals, due to changing ecosystems being unable to support its massive frame.
12. Labrador duck
This adorable-looking duck was already rare and elusive before European settlers began their process of landscaping North America. It was the first endemic bird to become extinct after the Columbian Exchange, which introduced all manner of new food and produce into the lives of many early Americans. The last sighting was in New York in 1878.
13. Dwarf pronghorn
Only one relative of this little-understood dual-horned bambi is still living, the rest are thought to have died out more than 11,000 years ago. We assume much of their behavior and diet was similar to modern day equivalents, living in grassy plains will ample vegetation. We also know over millions of years, its adorable horns got smaller.
14. Eukon horse
Galloping the plains of North America during the time of the mammoths and the steppe bison, this pint-sized horse is known for its pronounced skull shape and slender frame. Fossil records show that these animals often lived in small groups of up to three or four, mirroring social dynamics in most equine species.
15. Northern glyptodont
Somewhere between an armadillo and a turtle, this charming little fella could be found shuffling around what would now be modern day Texas and Mexico. Unlike an armadillo, it has a small segment of carapace protecting its head, and it is believed to be a poor mover due to its hip bones being fused.
16. Satasha ground sloth
While time travel is ethically murky and likely beyond our physical limitations, should we ever nail it the first stop should be picking up one of these. The hulking, 20-feet long gentle giants. Well, possibly gentle. Like their smaller cousins, we know they lived off a herbivore diet, but their size, teeth, and claws likely packed tremendous strength.
17. Eastern cougar
There is currently some contention between the US and Canada as to whether this species is actually extinct or not. It’s very funny to imagine scientists from the two countries getting really heated over how appropriate the 1946 taxonomy of the Eastern cougar was. The issue is that they seem to be expanding from Canada to North America again, though only as vagrants.
18. Dusky seaside sparrow
With a name like that, it seems appropriate the last known sighting of this Florida native bird was at Disney World’s Discovery Island in 1987. They lived across the marshlands of the sunshine state and were easily identifiable by their unique, insect-like song. This species could successfully crossbreed with other sparrows, meaning elements of its genealogy still remain.
19. Harelip sucker
Named after their unique physiology, they have a lower lip divided into two lobes. They covered fresh water streams and rivers across the south-east United States up to around Ohio. It’s believed their lips were evolved to help them sweep the rocky stream floors for food, which is supported by fossil samples showing their diet was snails, clams, and crustaceans.
20. Sooty crayfish
An off-grey subspecies of crayfish, these were fairly common off the coast of San Francisco and survived fine, despite the locals and their appetite for incredible seafood. One of today’s more common species, the signal crayfish, was introduced to California sometime in the 19th century, where it seems likely they out bread and out-fed their sooty cousins.
21. Socorro Isopod
You probably think of creatures like this as indestructible, capable of surviving in a vacuum of space or treating 700 times our atmospheric pressure like a cozy weighted blanket. This particular crustacean was mostly wiped out by a tree’s roots cracking some pipes that cut off their water supply, though they still live on in the Albuquerque Biological Park and Minnesota Zoo.
22. Rocky mountain locusts
Most of this list’s entries are quite sad, even the isopod has a friendly aura to it, they don’t hurt anybody they just hang out. It’s a struggle to drum up the same anthropomorphized empathy for locusts. These once plagued the western half of the US in swarms that were measured to be bigger than the size of California. Nah, forget it.
23. Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog
Back to the cute ones, yay. These wide-eyed amphibians were native to Panama, which although famously occupies the landmass linking North and South America, is still part of the continent of North America. They were the only known frog species where children feast on the father’s skin cells, and died out in 2016, only 10 years after their discovery.
24. Merriam’s Teratornis
With a name that sounds like a legendary Pokemon, it comes as little surprise that such a powerful phrase, from the Greek words meaning wonder bird, describes such an impressive animal. These colossal birds of prey stalked the skies of Late Pleistocene era California, Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona. 30 pounds with a 10-foot wingspan? Now that is truly terrifying… and impressive!
25. North American saber-tooth
Sometimes called a cat, sometimes a tiger, this legendary prehistoric mammal is thought to be one of the deadliest hunters of all time. It bares little genetic similarity to what we know as cats and tigers today, as this ancient predator was known to hunt bison and mammoth for abstinence. This is likely why they died out 10,000 years ago, the same time as other megafauna.
26. Toronto Subway Deer
Nicknamed for its discovery while excavating earth for the Toronto Subway, the only remains we have of this creature cast a sturdy and powerful image. Amazingly, from fossilized pollen records and human footprints, archaeologists have hypothesized that this creature lived alongside the earliest North American inhabitants.
27. Law’s diving goose
The flightless birds of North America didn’t get a great deal. Unable to escape a population that would, in only a few thousand years later, discover how to Kentucky fry them. They went extinct sometime between 450 B.C and 200 B.C due to some combination of human and animal predation in heir habitat of California and Oregon.
28. La Brea Owl
Named after the La Brea tar pits of LA, not much is known about this species, as it was only in 2010 enough evidence was gathered to consider the owl its own bird. It has been suggested that it was likely much more terrestrial in its behavior than other owls, as it has much longer legs than others relative to its wingspan.
29. Chiriqui harlequin frog
Contender for the most pleasant name of all time that’s just wrong, these toads ranged in color and size across parts of Panama. They produced a potent neurotoxin and had some very unique anatomy, lacking a middle ear many other toads are known to have. They perished due to a particularly brutal fungal infection.
30. Steller’s sea cow
Originally endemic to the waters around Alaska, this hulking, slow-moving behemoth was hunted to extinction after the European colonization of the Americas. Its meat, fat, hide and tusks were all valuable and essential to braving life in the tundras of early civilization. It was believed to have interacted friendly with the indigenous populations.
31. Wilson’s Tortoise
This long extinct reptile was larger than even the giant tortoise, with its shell being durable against even bitter conditions. It’s unclear how closely related they are to other breeds, and the location of many the found skeletons suggests they were butchered for food or sacrifice.
32. Splendid poison tree frog
Closely related to the strawberry tree frog (why do they give such delicious-looking creatures appealing names if they’re so poisonous?) this poison dart frog variant was native to the forests of Panama. Like all poison dart frogs, their toxins were extremely potent, and their shared appearance with other frogs helped them avoid prey. It seems a lack of conservation efforts led to the decline.
33. Deepwater cisco
This was one of the biggest cisco in all the Great Lakes, distinguishable from others by longer pectoral fins and unusual behavior. It spawned earlier than another cisco for reasons we don’t yet know and had a pink/purple pigment to its scales. As more fish were introduced to the lakes, such as alewife, the cisco were unable to maintain themselves as commercial fishing increased.
34. Xerces blue
A gorgeous gossamer-winged butterfly that was last seen in San Francisco during the Second World War. To fuel their metamorphosis from larvae into the pretty white-spotted wings of their adult form, they liked feasting on a particular kind of lotus flower. Human development throughout the Golden Gate area contaminated the lotus flower soil, a factor that led to their demise.
35. Giant beaver
A bear-sized beaver with an expanded skull, helping facilitate extended underwater activity. That sounds infinitely more terrifying than any crocodile or shark, with teeth up to 15cm long with rough, serrated enamel. It’s believed they simply fell victim to changing climate, losing their favored Pleistocene wetlands and nearing extinction by the time early humans showed up.
36. Yellowfin cutthroat trout
Discovered in the twin lakes in the days of the Wild West, it’s hypothesized these were native to the entire Arkansas River and much of Colorado, but after the ice age, geographical changes isolated them to lakes. After trout populations were introduced to facilitate industrial farming, the cutthroat trout failed to live up to it’s name and couldn’t defend their food source.
37. Caribbean monk seal nasal mite
The domino effect of nature is immense and incalculable, there are always ripple effects to something as simple as migration patterns on the Earth’s fragile ecosystem. With the extinction of the prior mentioned Caribbean monk seal also came the perishing of their parasitic predators. Classed as an Aracnida for its leg count, when the mite lost it’s host, it died out.
Roughly somewhere between a bison and an ox in size, these great hairy beasts were one of the first bovids to ever cross into North America. They were hardy and durable herd animals, having migrated far and wide from Mexico and California to Illinois. They are believed to have died out sometime around 11,500 years ago.
39. Hemigrapsus estellinensis
These intriguing crabs would have been much more at home on the coast with all the other crustaceans, instead, they settled in the saltwater springs of Texas, 500 miles away from the ocean. The population was wiped out after a US military dike affected the saline levels in the water, with its closest remaining relative being the Oregon shore crab.