It’s no secret that our planet has become increasingly uninhabitable over the last hundred years. There are several factors that contribute to this: industrialization, overpopulation, the inherent disassociation of people with the problems they’re causing, etc.
Not everything seemed so bleak with several communities of people gathering for the sake of protecting animals species that were nearing extinction. There have some degrees of success. The beloved Giant Panda of China is no longer considered to be endangered. Despite this, other organizations that aim to protect endangered species seem to be fighting a losing battle. Sadly, in 2016, there were several animals that went extinct. We list them here today.
Two species of Bettongs
Bettongs are these tiny rodent-like marsupials are commonly called rat-kangaroos that are indigenous to Australia. Two species of Bettongs were officially declared extinct in 2016:
Nullabor Dwarf Bettong
The Nullabor Dwarf Bettong (Bettongia pusilla) was a species of Bettong that was endemic to the Nullabor Plain in Western Australia. It is known only from subfossil material but is considered to have been extant at European settlement.
Scientifically known as Bettongia anhydra. It was originally described as a subspecies of B. pencillata, the Desert Bettong was only recently recognized as a full species. Sadly, it was not fully known how abundant this species was before its extinction. It was thought to have been driven to extinction because of predators that were introduced to its habitat like Red Foxes and feral domestic cats.
Lesser Stick-nest Rat
The last two specimens of Lesser Stick-nest Rat (Leporillus apicalis) were collected near Mt. Crombie, Australia in July 1933. Stick-nest Rats constructed large nests of sticks and sometimes stones, depending on available construction materials. Some remaining in caves in breakaways in the Gibson Desert and near the Finke stock route in the southern Northern Territory are more than 3 m by 2 m by 1 m high.
The construction of stick-nests shows that shelter was important; the nests probably provided an ameliorated microclimate and some protection from predators. A nest may have sheltered several individuals, with records of up to ten in a nest. However, there were several records of events where the nests were burned–although the reason for this is unclear.
Ridley’s Stick Insect
The oddly named Ridley’s Stick Insect (Pseudobactricia ridleyi) was native to Singapore. With Singapore’s massive industrialization spike, most of its forest has been removed. Ridley’s Stick Insect is known from just one specimen collected in Singapore more than 100 years ago. As almost all natural forest in Singapore has since been cleared, extensive searches of the remaining forest have failed to reveal any more specimens of this species, genus or subfamily. Exhaustive surveys have also been carried out in neighboring countries which have failed to reveal any evidence of the species.
This is a small lizard that lived on the small island of Cabo Polonio, Paraguay. It seems to have met its extinction because of the massive increase of human settlement on the island. While there is some discussion over whether or not it may just be a color variant of the Contomastix lacertoides, there hasn’t been any new specimens found to develop conclusive findings.