Animals That Came Back From Extinction

The world is filled with mystery, amazing animals once thought to be gone forever, miraculously came back to life and survived from extinction while others where immortalized in mythology as beasts that were never real, or were they? Let’s travel the world in search of the rarest Lazarus species of animals once declared extinct but survived to be rediscovered.

12 Tasmanian Tiger


Marsupials are animals who carry their young in pouches, like kangaroos or opossums do. One of the most studied animals that unfortunately went extinct due to over hunting, besides the dodo, is the Tasmanian tiger. The largest carnivorous marsupial in the world was discovered in the Australian islands more specifically, Tasmania.  In the early 1900s the government of Australia paid farmers for the carcasses of the detrimental animal. Farmers blamed the Tasmanian tiger for the loss of their farm animals and the execution of the marsupial was the unfortunate “best” option for economic growth.  But not all was lost. Less than a year ago, a local resident of Clifton Springs near the town of Victoria allegedly spotted one. Mr. Groves described the animal as a mange looking fox with a stiff tail and dark stripes across its dark brown body.  The strange animal starred at him as if unafraid, before scurrying away thought the bushes. After closer examination from the fuzzy mobile picture, the description of the animal gives hope that the Tasmanian tiger is still prowling around waiting for further confirmation of its identity.

11 New Guinea Highland Singing Dog

By R.G. Daniel, rgdaniel on -, CC BY 2.0,
By R.G. Daniel, rgdaniel on -, CC BY 2.0,

Man’s best friend have evolved from wolves and adapted to become house pets more so than wild animals. And, how would an ancient dog look like to you? In the island of New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean a long-lost species of the most ancient of all dogs existed; but was gone extinct from the wild due to over hunting. The New Guinea Highland singing dog looks very similar to an Australian dingo but is best known for its vocalization, the female has a series of repetitive sounds that last for about 3 minutes, designed to attract potential mates. Few specimens are found in zoos and some even paired with regular dogs to create hybrids, but in the wild?  In 2016 a great discovery was done. In the mountains a female New Guiney singing dog was photographed. The best part, the picture displayed a big belly, she was pregnant!! The incredible discovery indicated there must be more of her kin around.  it was later recorded about 15 of the wild canines living freely and very far away from humans.

10 Giant Squid


The ocean is like a box of scary surprises, you just don’t know when you may pull a surprisingly large animal straight out of your worst nightmare. Mariners would tell tall tales about creatures coming from the bottom of the ocean to attack their boats leaving only destruction on their path. Their voyages seem so be ridden with mystery and danger, more so than now.  But what if they were not exaggerating at all? What would you do if the mythological kraken did exist? the giant squid, its real… it’s as long as a semitrailer and is more powerful and scarier than it sounds, and how about brains? Squids in general are an enigma to researchers, their intelligence is so incredible and hard to measure due to how fast they learn and react to people and outside stimuli. If they are so smart, why did the squid almost go extinct? One explanation is associated with the growing population of sperm whales, their main predator and largest whale of all. Research is working hard to learn more about this fascinating creature straight out of Scandinavian mythology.

9 Saber-Tooth Tiger

Animals that came back from extinction

Imagine a world where ancient animals of the ice age came back to life, the wooly mammoth, the saber-tooth tiger, or even a giant armadillo… how safe would you feel… the concept of bringing extinct species back to life is now a true possibility. Few years ago, a well-preserved saber-toothed tiger cub was found. It’s body, finally free from its frozen captivity where it remained trapped for thousands and thousands of years, not only helped scientist learn a bit more about their development and size but, within it, there was a lot more information.  Its DNA found in the frozen lands of Siberia, uncovered an entire DNA sample with enough data to bring the saber tooth back to life.  But, will science really bring one of the top predators into existence again. Well that’s to be seen as there is still a lot to learn from many of the animals uncover in the frozen lands since the last ice age.

8 The Clarion Night Snake


In a remote island of the coast of Mexico a hidden treasure remained undiscovered for almost a century. In the 1930s one specimen of the clarion night snake was found. Its unique spots made it interesting and different form other snakes.  But, since there was no evidence of any other one of its kind, it was soon forgotten and labeled an identification mistake. Recently, by pure chance, it was spotted by a student walking over the lava rocks during a research exploration of the islands and hit once in a life time discovery jackpot.  Unlike its mainland relatives, this snake is Darker in color and with a distinctive pattern of spots on its head and back, the clarion snake is hard to see since it blends with the volcanic rocks.  The clarion snake was cataloged as one of the greatest rediscoveries in the past few years. Scientists still don’t know how many of them inhabit the undisturbed island, hidden from humans for almost a century.  Such discoveries raise the question what else is lurking out there?

7 Java Elephant


Java, coffee comes to mind but far from coffee, the island of java in the Pacific Ocean near Indonesia is more than dry land in a vast ocean.  The jungles are thick and luscious and the untouched parts of the forest are hard to explore. Imagine what has not been discovered yet? I am sure plenty of animals are still to be found. One that was thought to have been lost forever is the Java Elephant a smaller version of the better-known Asian cousins.  Elephants are elusive yet still very family oriented, they communicate with each’s herds by producing very low frequency sounds inaudible to us humans. Taller that a large horse, the java Elephants were easy prey to human hunting after Europeans settlers arrived to the island.  So, after the numbers plummeted to extinction, hope was lost forever. In 2003 nature surprised us once more? The Borneo pygmy elephants are actually their closest descendants. Locals believe that the Java elephants where transplanted to Borneo and other islands several hundred years ago.  The Java elephants adapted to their new island and from then, the descendants where called the Borneo pygmy yet carrying with in the herd, the original java elephant’s DNA.

6 Huila Stubfoot Toad


Could a fungus be more dangerous than a virus? An antifungal would work for us but not necessarily for other animals.  In the 1990s there was a fungal outbreak in Huila, a region of Colombia that is well known for its coffee as its biodiversity.  The chytrid fungus outbreak destroyed the entire species of the harlequin true toad called the stub foot toad and devastated many other amphibians.  After the region was searched to no avail, the stub foot was truly gone.  Time passed and the forest recovered from the fungal outbreak, may species of amphibians come back and the numbers raised, but not for the stub foot toad. More than 10 years after the disastrous outbreak passed finally, in 2006 specimens of the once bountiful stub toad population, was discovered raising hopes that other fragile species lost would be back to occupy their place in the ecosystem.

5 Giant Woodpecker


Meet the “Elvis” or the “holy grail” of worldwide bird watching. For about 50 years, one of the largest woodpeckers in the world eluded birders. But not forever, that was until 2004 when a kayaker cruising in the southern US, spotted the Ivory-billed woodpecker.  With a wingspan as long a man’s footstep, the ivory billed woodpecker was described by a renown ornithologist as “every birder’s fantasy to catch a glimpse of this bird, however remote”. Unfortunately for birders and bird, habitat destruction and trophy hunting drove it to extinction, or so it was thought. A video shot in the vicinity of where it was spotted a year earlier, shows that the finding was not a hoax. Changing the listing of the species as “critically endangered”.  A tiny step on the right direction!

4 Mosasaurus

By daryl_mitchell from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada - Mosasaur, CC BY-SA 2.0,
By daryl_mitchell from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada - Mosasaur, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Remember the movie where scientist went mad and greedy and brought back to life not only one but many dangerous species of dinosaurs? Could it be possible that they would do it in real life? We all hope it does not turn out like the movie… that could be a problem, right? Well… scientists are constantly working on preserving close to extinction species and even have a DNA bank with genetic materials and plant seeds in case of an emergency.  Discovering new information and ways to improve biodiversity is the main goal of many scientific organizations. But what if they go to far as to bring back to life a dangerous dinosaur just for vain curiosity? Unfortunately, yes… according to the paleontologist who inspired the creation of the character “Dr. Alan Grant” in Jurassic park, - we are only a few years away from bringing “them” back… we don’t need an ancient mosquito DNA... we can use chickens.  As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat and we may be the cat.

3 Horseshoe Crab


Imagine your self-walking in a beautiful in the Gulf of Mexico when suddenly, a living tank walk towards you? How would you react? This animal is not a new and enhanced creature. This 450-million-year-old horse shoe crab, has been in this earth even before the tyrannosaur rex, where the horse shoe crab has ruled the seas.  It has survived every earth-shattering cataclysmic event… until now. The horse shoe crab is considered an indicator of the health of the earth, its blood is so precious, it’s a copper based and measured bacteria growth like no other making it of high demand in the scientific community.   It would be a shame that the oldest living fossil will go extinct, and not at the hands of a meteor or a tsunami, but by us who have been in this earth for just few thousand years.

2 Tiny Primates!


When thinking of primates, monkeys come to mind, even the smaller ones we see at the zoo, are larger than a squirrel.  But how small is small.  Believed, as lost forever, meet the pygmy tarsier, looks like a hairy finger puppet, with a heaping nano weight of 2oz. Unfortunately, since the 1920’s the smallest primate in the world was not seen or heard of. Countless expeditions to the Indonesian rain forest unearthed no trace of the animal.  As a last resort in 2000, American scientists decided to give it one more chance for this rare tarsier specie to show itself. One was caught on a mouse trap and several lived specimens where caught in nets. This tiny cutie is still a mystery, and conservation efforts are the main focus of the research.

1 Coelacanths

By Bruce A.S.Henderson - Fraser, Michael D.; Henderson, Bruce A.S.; Carstens, Pieter B.; Fraser, Alan D.; Henderson, Benjamin S.; Dukes, Marc D.; Bruton, Michael N. (26 March 2020). "Live coelacanth discovered off the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, South Africa". South African Journal of Science. 116 (3/4 March/April 2020). doi:10.17159/sajs.2020/7806 © 2020. The Author(s). Published under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence., CC BY-SA 4.0,
By Bruce A.S.Henderson - Fraser, Michael D.; Henderson, Bruce A.S.; Carstens, Pieter B.; Fraser, Alan D.; Henderson, Benjamin S.; Dukes, Marc D.; Bruton, Michael N. (26 March 2020). "Live coelacanth discovered off the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, South Africa". South African Journal of Science. 116 (3/4 March/April 2020). doi:10.17159/sajs.2020/7806 © 2020. The Author(s). Published under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence., CC BY-SA 4.0,

Ancient species collides with new; most perish as the new and improved species adapt faster to the everchanging environment while the old withers away only to be observed in fossils. In this case, fossils and the living and breathing creature could be seen side by side for a once in a life time opportunity. The coelacanths, this is a paleontologist dream!!  A mysterious 200lb fish, as long as a 6 ft. tall human, is as old as the dinosaurs themselves. This living fossil got caught on a fishing net.  It was so bizarre looking that the local museum received a call. Finally, a year later, the 65 million years old deep-water dweller that was thought to be extinct was tagged and identified.  The coelacanths showed us that the world has plenty of places for hiding.

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