Nature’s Ghosts: 23 Unforgettable Facts About Extinct Animals and Birds

1American cheetah

American cheetah

The extinct American cheetah could be the reason pronghorns run so fast today.

2Giant turtle

Giant turtle

In 2012, remains of an enormous turtle, which was the size of a smart car, was unearthed in a Colombian coal mine. This gigantic turtle appeared 5 million years after dinosaurs went extinct. This prehistoric turtle had massive, powerful jaws that would have enabled it to eat anything nearby, from mollusks to smaller turtles or even crocodiles.

3Atlas bear

Atlas bear

The African continent had a native species of bear known as the “The Atlas Bear” which suffered great population decline due to the Roman Empire's demand for animals for gladiatorial events. The animal was hunted to extinction by the 1870s.



All the domestic cattle today have descended from a single group of 80 Aurochs (a type of cattle hunted to extinction by early humans).

5Barbary Lion

Barbary Lion

The Lions (Atlas Lion or Barbary Lion) used in the Colosseum became extinct in 1952. They were the largest lions to date and the only species of lions not to live in pride.

6Turnspit Dog

Turnspit Dog

There was a breed of dog called the Turnspit Dog or Kitchen Dog that was bred by humans specifically to run on a wheel which turned the spit to cook the meat over an open flame. It is now extinct.

7Tasmanian tiger

Tasmanian tiger

Following the extinction of the Tasmanian tiger in 1936, Tasmanian Devils are the largest carnivorous marsupial now on earth.

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8Gastric-brooding frogs

Gastric-brooding frogs

There were two species of frogs called Gastric-brooding frogs that swallowed its eggs, converted its stomach into a womb, and gave birth through its mouth. It went extinct in the mid-1980s. Scientists are trying to resurrect it.



The Elasmotherium, an extinct genus of rhinoceros is thought to be the origin of unicorn myths and legends.



The first animal to evolve vision was the trilobite, a distant extinct relative of spiders and shrimps.

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