We all know dinosaurs lived many, many years ago before they became extinct. But did you know there’s other species of birds and mammals that once roamed our earth and oceans?
No Mo’ Dodo
Even though the Dodo bird didn’t have a great deal of time on earth, it’s often one of the first things we think of when we hear the word “extinct.” The Dodo species lived less than 100 years – it was discovered in 1598 and was extinct by 1681.
This grey, flightless, 3 foot tall bird (despite its large size – up to 40 pounds) was a member of the pigeon and dove family. It had a large hooked beak, a big, fluffy plume of white feathers on its hind-end, and stubby, weak wings. This fruit-loving bird was also thought to be quite friendly.
The Dodo’s lack of flight forced it to nest on the ground which may have led to its demise. Predators such as stray dogs and wild pigs would trample and eat the Dodo’s eggs as well as humans hunting the bird for its meat.
Is it wrong the Dodo’s gone? Imagine there was a Dodo in your own backyard or Dodo petting-zoos where we could feed this peculiar bird. What fun!
Cows of the Sea
The Steller Sea Cow grew up to 25.9 feet long and weighed up to 4 tons. It had a small head, stubby front limbs and a whale-like tail. Its thin, black skin was described as resembling tree bark. Since the Steller Sea Cow only ate plants, it had no teeth, only two flat bones one above the other. It never came to shore and lived in cold water.
Once the Sea Cow was discovered it didn’t take long before their numbers dwindled. It was very tame and docile which made it an easy target for hunters. The Steller Sea Cow’s hide was used in making boats, the fat for use in oil lamps and its meat for food.
Unfortunately, within 27 years of its discovery the slow moving Sea Cow was hunted to extinction.
Is it wrong the Sea Cow is gone? Perhaps, if this creature would have been given a chance we’d be able to watch a herd of them, slowly swimming by as they dug up their favorite food, the sea kelp. What a sight!
It lived throughout Europe, northern Asia and northern Africa. It’s called the “Irish” deer as well-preserved fossils of the giant animal have been commonly found in lake sediments and peat bogs in Ireland.
Since the Irish Deer went extinct approximately 7,700 years ago it’s difficult to determine what the cause of its demise was. Could it have been over-hunting by man? Or perhaps a change in the vegetation it had to eat, leading to malnutrition? We’ll probably never know for sure. However, if you want to see just how impressive this gigantic beast was, visit the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, where the remains of this huge animal is on display.
Is it wrong the Irish Deer is gone? Imagine you’re walking through the woods and suddenly you catch a glimpse of the biggest animal you’ve ever seen. It stops and sniffs the air. Its giant antlers perfectly level with the top of a tree. What a sight!
If you want to learn more about these or other extinct animals, visit your local library, a museum, or the internet.