Extinction is an unavoidable part of evolution that has been going on for a long time throughout the earth’s history. However, the pace of extinction seems far from ordinary. Scientists believe this to be the sixth mass extinction on earth and the maximum threshold of disappearance is yet to be seen.
In normal circumstances, the birth rate of new species is much higher than the rate of disappearance of old ones. However, the rate of extinction of wildlife and biodiversity has never been this upsetting, and the implications trace back to human interference.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has declared the disappearance of 160 species over the last decade. And as we speak, we continue to lose around one thousand species per year! According to IUCN, a quarter of mammals today are at risk of extinction. And I wonder what that means in terms of the interrelated life cycle on earth.
Most research estimates project that there are at least 2 billion species of biodiversity at present. Humans have not discovered all lifeforms on earth; we are still in the process. And many times, extinction has occurred among those officially unnamed species that receive recognition only after their extension. And, we cannot save what we don’t know needs saving!
Considering the fact that researchers and scientists take years or even decades before actually listing a species as extinct, the numbers of extinct biodiversity today might even be higher.
Below you will find a detailed list of 10 extinct species of birds and plants we failed to keep alive in the 21st century.
Table of Contents
1. Poo-uli (Melamprosops phaeosoma)
Poo-uli or commonly known as black-faced honeycreepers is an extinct species of songbirds. It was a tiny bird with a blackhead, a brown coat, and light grey underparts. Poo-Uli was first discovered in 1973 in the easternmost islands of Maui, Hawaii.
However, due to diseases and other invasive species their numbers were heavily reduced between 1975 and 1985. The mosquito-borne avian malaria in Hawaii highly contributed to their extension, forcing them to shift to the mountains. These environmental and dietary changes altered their potential for survival and growth.
Three of them were found in mid-1997, among which one died in 2004. The remaining two have not been observed since 2004. Based upon the extension parameters and associated threats, this species has been listed as extent in 2019.
2. Liverpool Pigeon (Caloenas maculata)
The spotted green pigeon or Liverpool Pigeon is native to the South Pacific Ocean and Indian ocean. Caloenas maculata were commonly known as “Titi” among the Tahitian islanders. They were 12 inches in length with a yellow-tipped black bill. They were dark green and glossy in color.
Liverpool pigeons can fly; however, they were distantly related to Dodo of Mauritius, the extinct flightless birds. Polynesians believe that these birds emanate from mountain gods, and so they lived in high-altitude forests.
These species of birds have been predicted to have decreased in number, mainly due to over-hunting and predation. The immigrant species of animals contributed to their loss around the year 1820. Liverpool pigeons were listed as extinct on the IUCN Red List in the year 2008.
3. Acrocephalus Nijoi (Aguijan reed-warbler)
These extinct species of birds were native to Northern Marianan Island Aguigan. They belong to the Acrocephalia family and are a subspecies of nightingale reed warblers. They are tiny sparrow-like birds with brown feathers all over their body.
Like many other birds, these went extinct due to the introduction of new species of animals and insects such as cats, rats, and lizards. Despite extensive efforts to locate the whereabouts of Aguijan reed-warbler, they have not been sighted ever since 1995. The IUCN officially declared the extinction of Aguijan reed-warbler in 2017.
4. Cryptic Treehunter (Cichlocolaptes Mazarbarnetti)
The Cryptic Treehunters were commonly found in two specific locations of east Brazil: Murici in Alagoas and Pedra d’Anta Reserve. They were cinnamon-brown with a matt black beak.
They were pretty large, and the sound resembled a screech. Thus, they are also popularly known as -the screecher of the Northeast. Although there was a recorded decent number of these species until 1986, there has been no official sighting since April 2007.
Loss of habitat and isolation has extensively contributed to the decrease in their number. Conversion of forests for sugarcane plantation and grazing along with unplanned human settlements have resulted in their extinction.
5. Least Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus dubius)
The Least Vermilion flycatcher was native to San Cristobal Island in Galapagos Islands. They were about 11 centimeters in length with red underpart and dark brown upperparts. Due to the spread of invasive vegetation, the primary food source (insects) of Least Vermillion Flycatcher heavily declined.
Although they were first discovered in 1835 in huge numbers, by 1980, their population size had heavily gone down. After an extensive search and study, these species of birds were finally declared extinct in June 2016.
6. Melicope macropus (Kaholuamanu melicope)
This species of citrus plant was native to Kalalau Valley on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The introduction of non-native plant-eaters such as pigs, deer, and goats resulted in overgrazing, contributing to their extinction.
Melicope macropus was last observed in 1995, and in 2016 they were declared as the extinct species of plants by IUCN.
7. Adam’s mistletoe (Trilepidea adamsii)
Trilepidea adamsii was native to the forests in Northers islands of New Zealand. They were semi-parasitic shrubs found growing on trees with clustered long tubular flowers.
Several factors lead to the disappearance of this shrub. The absence of pollination, over-collection, habitat degradation, and growth of invasive species are the primary reasons for their extinction. Adam’s mistletoe was finally listed as an extinct plant in 2014 by the IUCN.
8. Saint Helena Olive (Nesiota elliptica)
Nesiota elliptica was a flowering plant native to Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean, which became very rare in the late 19th century. The leaves of this tree were quite peculiar with a hairy underside and bore tightly packed light pink flowers.
The species could not produce seeds with itself and other close species; hence, nothing could save the last tree from extinction. Despite incredible efforts, the last remaining species of this plant was lost from the wild in 1994. And, the other individual cultivation could not make it past 2003.
9. Fissidens microstictus
Madeira’s Portuguese Island was filled with Fissidens microstictus, a type of moss popular in the early 1900s. However, due to unorganized urbanization and the rapid flow of tourists, their appearance had considerably declined in the year 1982.
In 2019, the IUCN officially declared its extinction as the species was no longer found in any part of the world.
10. Woolly-stalked begonia (Begonia eiromischa)
These were scarce species of begonia only found in Malaysia. They were located at an altitude of 170 meters and were present specifically over granite rocks. Tropical hills of Palau Betong housed plenty of these species in the mid-1800s as herbal plants.
Woolly-stalked begonia was extinct at some point in the 20th century due to agriculture and human settlement. Efforts were made to rediscover them in the wild. However, as the search failed to reveal their existence, they were listed as extinct plants by the IUCN in 2007.
Half of the marine life is projected to be extinct by 2100. Likewise, global warming will wipe off numerous species in and around the earth’s pole. Humans can and will adapt, but the same cannot be said for the plant and animals. The question is, are we doing enough to save them from this peril?
IUCN has constantly assessed the threatened and extinct plants, animals, and birds to send us a wake-up call. And although various national and international agencies have been putting tremendous efforts toward conservation and protection, biodiversity continues to go extinct.
Life on earth is disappearing at an alarming rate and will continue to do so unless immediate action is taken. We as humans need to be mindful of our actions that have caused enormous mass extension of our fellow earth dwellers. No matter how advanced homo sapiens maybe get, there is no way to gain what is lost.
(Last Updated on August 19, 2021 by Sadrish Dabadi)