Category Archive: Extinct

Jun 03

Extinct Animal: Moa

For thousands of years, giants lived throughout the forests of New Zealand. These were the moa (Polynesian for ‘fowl’), flightless ostrich-like birds that, in some cases, reached heights of 3.6 m and weighed about 250 kg. They grew so large because they were strict vegetarians and most of them, so far as we can tell …

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Jan 07

Extinct Animal: Passenger Pigeon

A hundred and fifty years ago, between five and ten billion passenger pigeons flew over the skies of North America. It was not only the most numerous bird in the world at the time, but quite probably the most numerous bird that has ever existed. Seventy-five years later, the skies were empty. The passenger pigeon …

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Apr 16

Extinct Animal: Dead as the Dodo

Literary critic and humourist Willy Cuppy once said, ‘The dodo never had a chance. He seems to have been invented for the sole purpose of becoming extinct and that was all he was good for.’ And, indeed, many people view the dodo as being an unfortunate evolutionary mistake. It was fat, flightless and painfully stupid. …

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Jan 31

Extinct Animal: Trials of the Thylacine

You’ve probably heard of the Tasmanian devil. It’s a vicious, noisy creature that is sometimes seen spinning around in cartoons. It also has the distinction of being the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. A century ago, however, the Tasmanian devil didn’t hold that title. It was beaten in size by another Tasmanian resident, the thylacine. It …

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Sep 17

The ‘Missing Link’: Archaeopteryx

I’ve spent the last week in Berlin for my birthday, and although the highlight was visiting the zoo (seeing, amongst many other things, my very first manatees), I also went to the Berlin Museum für Naturkunde (Natural History Museum). The museum is not only home to the largest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the world but also …

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