10 ANIMALS That CAME BACK From Extinction
We live in a vast world and all that we see may not be all that there is. Take, for instance, these top 10 animals and critters, who once vanished from existence only to be located in some far corner of the world. For hundreds to millions of years, these creatures were believed to be extinct, defying the odds to make a miraculous return as incredible tales of Lazarus species.
For a period of almost 66 million years, the Coelacanth fish was widely alleged to be extinct, having never made it out of the Late Cretaceous period. Originally located in the West Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa and off of Indonesia, the 400-million-year old Coelacanth order was said to share lineage with reptiles and lungfish. Its lengthy absence ended in 1938 when it was rediscovered in one of its original stomping grounds, off the coast of South Africa. Known as a Lazarus taxon, the Coelacanth is of an evolutionary line that vanished from fossil records only to reappear much later in time, a similarity shared with the unrelated Laotian Rock Rat and Gracilidris.
An incredible discovery was made in the regions of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina in 2006 when researchers came across a genus of dolichoderine ants. The significance, in case you haven’t caught on by now, is that the particular genus was believed to have been extinct. For around 15 to 20 million years, the Gracilidris Pombero was assumed to be nonexistent; but during observations in Brazil, a live specimen of the supposedly extinct creature was reportedly located slinking about the grasslands of the Pampa biome in Rio Grande do Sul. The Gracilidris Pombero was named after the Guarani mythological humanoid beast, Pombero, who is said to kidnap ungrateful girls and have his way with them – a trait not quite held by the ancient ant.
Laotian Rock Rat
Over 11 million years ago, an Asian rodent family known as the Diatomyidae disappeared completely. Fossils from the Early Oligocene and Late Miocene eras were man’s only source of knowledge of this prehistoric rodent, but all of that changed in 2005 with an article written by Paulina Jenkins of the Natural History Museum in London. Jenkins and fellow authors described a distinct variety of rodent that didn’t quite match up with any living specimen, and so it was placed into a new family, Laonastidae. A year later, Mary Dawson of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania noted similarities to the extinct Diatomyidae, such as thick, squirrel-like tails and distinct skulls. Eventually, the Laotian Rock Rat became popularly known as the return of the long-lost ancient rodent.
Somehow, for a period of about 10,000 years, this adorable little hairy pig-like creature was believed to be extinct. Fossils recovered in 1930 lead to the discovery of the species, and since there had been no actual sightings of them, it was determined to have died off sometime during the Mesolithic or Neolithic periods. As it turns out, though, the Chacoan Peccary was still alive and well and was removed from the extinction list in 1971 with the first recorded sighting in the province of Salta, Argentina. Despite scientific ignorance to the existence of the Chacoan Peccary, natives were very familiar with the hoofed creature, which they recognized as the tagua.
This tiny bucking bronco once roamed Northern Iran before being considered extinct. At an average height between 36 and 46 inches or 91 to 117 centimeters, this wasn’t some galloping steed you’d want to ride into battle, though their speed and strength made them vital for land travel. By the end of the 7th century, the Caspian Horse had disappeared and it wasn’t until 1965 when the ancient horse was rediscovered by horse breeder Louise Firouz. While searching for ponies to be used as entertainment for children, Louise came across a Caspian Horse pulling a cart in the Iranian city of Amol. Since the rediscovery, breeders have secured the rise of the once extinct animal, proving that sometimes, man can be good for nature.
La Palma Giant Lizard
Having vanished over 500 years ago, the rediscovery of the La Palma Giant Lizard has been met with heavy criticism. In 2007, researchers at the Instituto de Investigacion en Recursos Cinegeticos took photographic evidence of what they believed to be the long-lost giant lizard. Though confident in their find, skepticism arose with news of the rediscovery; and even if the reptile was still alive, the population is said to likely be less than 50 mature members. The species was met with a drastic decline over 2,000 years ago with the introduction of humans to the island of La Palma, leading to the perceived extinction of the animal.
Considered the 2nd rarest seabird, the Bermuda Petrel has also been dubbed a symbol of hope for nature conservation. To earn such a title, a species must do something incredible, something like reappearing after spending over 330 years on the extinct species list. Despite once being an abundant species of Bermuda, the Petrel’s numbers dwindled due to a decline in a suitable habitat and an increase of invasive species, eventually leading to its supposed extinction. In 1951, the species resurfaced when 18 nesting pairs were located in Castle Harbour by ornithologist Robert Cushman Murphy, naturalist Louis L. Mowbray, and 15-year-old native David B. Wingate.
With poachers and ivory traders rampant in various regions, elephants don’t have it easy these days; so when a species that has long-since thought to have gone extinct reappears, it’s considered a win. This pygmy elephant, originally native to the island of Java, Indonesia, was last seen shortly after European settlers came to Southeast Asia in the 15th century. The story of the Javan Elephant may not have actually ended there, though, as it is believed the Sultan of Sulu traveled to Borneo with Javan Elephants in tow, inadvertently saving the species. What was originally considered a separate species all its own, the Borneo pygmy elephant is now thought to be the remaining members of the extinct pygmy Elephantidae of Java.
New Guinea Big-Eared Bat
The world doesn’t seem to have a shortage of bats, especially with that terrifyingly large Flying Fox flittering about, but the loss of the New Guinea big-eared bat was still tragic. With the last specimen of this Papua New Guinea residential flying mammal having been seen in 1890, it was determined to have gone extinct. For over 120 years, no sign of the big-eared critter had been seen, until July 2012, when Catherine Hughes and Julie Broken-Brow of the University of Queensland stumbled upon an unidentifiable species of bat while studying microbats in Papua New Guinea. After two years of residency at the National Museum and Art Gallery, the bat was finally identified as the long-since missing New Guinea big-eared bat.
New Caledonian Crested Gecko
Initially discovered in 1866 by French zoologist Alphone Guichenot, the New Caledonian Crested Gecko was deemed extinct after it had not been seen for a century. The New Caledonian species of gecko sported a variety of colors, including gray, brown, orange, red, and yellow; was often found with tiger-like stripes, and sported a prehensile tail coated in hundreds of small hairs thought to aid in climbing. The big-eyed gecko remained unseen from Guichenot’s initial description until 1994. After a tropical storm swept through the region known to house these critters, a solitary crested gecko was observed, indicating the survival of the species once thought gone.