Death-Defying Animals That Came Back From Extinction
Many animals were thought to be extinct because they disappeared for years, but somehow they're back from the dead. It’s crazy how long animals can remain undetected. Some species haven’t been seen for centuries — or even millions of years. Some of their whereabouts are also surprising. In the end, the scientific community is thrilled to have these animals back.
Let’s celebrate the extraordinary creatures that beat the odds when the world believed they were gone forever. Here are the incredible and unbelievable stories of death-defying animals that came back from extinction.
The Wild Dogs of New Guinea
The New Guinea wild dog is the world's rarest and most ancient dog species. For 50 years, researchers feared that the species was extinct. However, several witnesses reported sightings of the wild dogs between 2005 and 2012. Sounds like a good sign, right?
“Lobsters” Living in Trees?
Many people wonder, "How do you miss giant lobsters that live in trees?" Well, it happens, and this was the case for Australia's Lord Howe stick insect, also known as the tree lobster. For almost 100 years, nobody ever saw the species. The fascinating story starts with a shipwreck in 1918.
The Ancient Caspian Horse
Meet the mammal, the myth, the legend: the Caspian horse. Growing up to 47 inches tall, the Caspian is a miniature horse breed from Iran. These babies go way back to 3400 B.C., making theirs one of the oldest and most famous horse breeds of all time.
The Teeny Tiny Nelson Shrew
The last time scientists saw the Nelson's small-eared shrew was in 1894. Experts collected a small pack of the shrew species in southern Mexico. However, the animals were never seen again, which led many experts to assume they went extinct.
The World’s Largest Bee
The average bee species is 0.08 inches long, while the Megachile pluto, the largest bee species, can grow up to 1.54 inches. The Megachile pluto, also known as Wallace's giant bee, is native to Indonesia. It's easily identified by its enormous size and jaws.
Java’s Missing Elephants
It's hard to imagine how scientists lost track of such a large species, but somehow the elephants of Java stayed under the radar. While scientists believed they were extinct, these animals were living on the island of Borneo under a different identity.
The Starry Night Toad
The starry night toad is often identified by its white and black spots. Unfortunately, a deadly fungus wiped out many amphibians in the 1990s. When the starry night toad disappeared with many other frog species, experts assumed it was extinct too.
The Giant Palouse Earthworm
The average earthworm is about a foot long. It's not uncommon to see an earthworm, especially in your garden. However, have you ever seen a giant earthworm? It sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, but this giant organism does exist.
The Naked-backed Fruit Bats of the Philippines
Residents of Negros Island found these bats quite valuable, especially their massive piles of guano. When the bat population was ample, miners used the guano as highly effective fertilizer. However, the number of naked-backed fruit bats drastically dropped after their habitat was destroyed.
The Super-famous West African Coelacanth
One of the most famous comeback stories is that of the West African coelacanth, an enormous, ancient fish. These unique fish grow to six feet in length and weigh up to 200 pounds. They also have long lifespans of 60 years.
The Gliding Possum
When you think of possums, you might imagine an animal with a long, pointed face and a rat-like tail digging in your trash can. But have you ever seen a gliding possum? These real creatures come from Queensland in Australia.
The Australian Night Parrot
Parrots are easy to spot due to their colorful feathers and loud voices. But one parrot species literally lived in the shadows, remaining unnoticed in Australia. The mysterious night parrot fooled the entire world into believing it was extinct.
The Venomous Cuban Solenodon
Don't let this little creature fool you into thinking it is sweet and harmless. The Cuban solenodon isn't your average mammal. This unusual critter has venomous saliva to paralyze its prey, such as small birds, frogs, lizards and even rodents.
The Nocturnal Gracilidris Ant
More than 12,000 species of ants exist in the world, so it's easy to see why scientists missed spotting the ant genus Gracilidris. Scientists believed this creature disappeared more than 15 million years ago. The only existing fossil of the specimen is in Dominican amber.
The Takahe of New Zealand
There are over 60 species of birds that can't fly, including penguins and flamingos. However, the rising star of flightless birds is the takahe. Found in New Zealand, the takahe was declared extinct in 1898. However, scientists realized they were wrong.
The Fanged Mouse-deer
A mouse-deer with fangs and hooves sounds like a creature produced in a lab, but these babies are 100% natural. They're also not really deer or mice, but ungulates (a type of hoofed animals). Plus, this creature is extra-special because it's the world's smallest ungulate.
The Terror Skink or the Terrific Skink?
The terror skink, also called Bocourt's terrific skink, is a unique lizard with long, curved teeth. Disappearing in 1876, the species went undetected for more than a century. But the terrific skink has been brought back from "extinction."
The Fernandina Giant Tortoise of the Galápagos
A giant tortoise from Fernandina Island in the Galapagos is back from the dead. The only specimen was recorded in 1906. Unfortunately, members of the California Academy of Sciences slayed the male critter. As a result, experts believed the giant tortoise was wiped out.
The Lost Rio Apaporis Caiman
According to Global Wildlife Conservation, the Rio Apaporis caiman was lost to the scientific community in 1952. Some experts believed the crocodilian was extinct, while others needed to see with their own eyes that the species was still alive.
The Pig-like Chacoan Peccary
The Platygonus — a creature closely resembling a pig — roamed the earth for millions of years until it vanished 11,000 years ago. Experts believe the extinct animals are related to the Chacoan peccary, which was first described in 1930. The weird part is that the report was based on fossils.
The Colorful Kaempfer's Woodpecker
Originally discovered in 1926, Kaempfer's woodpecker lives in the bamboo forests of Brazil. Only one female specimen was initially seen, so scientists assumed the species was lost forever. They were wrong. The colorful birds managed to stay hidden for many decades until 2006, when a male was spotted in the state of Tocantins.
The Mallorcan Midwife Toad
Many animals on this list were first discovered alive in the wild before disappearing. However, the Mallorcan midwife toad has a different narrative. There were no photographs to confirm its existence. Plus, no one had ever physically seen the animal before.
The Furry Laotian Rock Rat
The Laotian rock rat, a.k.a. the rat-squirrel, looks like your average critter, but it actually stands out among other rodents. Originally discovered in 2005, this creature belongs to an ancient rodent family, the Diatomyidae. Experts assumed the family was extinct for more than 11 million years, but no!
The Sneaky Black-footed Ferret
Native to central North America, the black-footed ferret fooled the scientific community twice. In 1979, scientists officially gave up on the species. However, a dog delivered a dead black-footed ferret to its owner, reminding the world that it was not extinct after all. In response, experts searched and rediscovered a small population of the species in 1981.
Peru’s Valuable Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey
The yellow-tailed woolly monkey has experienced plenty of hard times, like being reported as extinct for more than 100 years. Since its initial discovery in 1812, the rare primate species has only been seen a few times. As a result, scientists assumed it was gone forever.
The Chinese Crested Tern, Asia's Rarest Seabird
Asia's rarest seabird, the Chinese crested tern, faces many threats, including illegal egg collection, typhoons and fishermen destroying its nests. It was easy to believe that the bird met its fate in the mid-20th century. Six decades later, some good news was reported.
The Dwarf Omura’s Whale
How do you lose track of a mammal that's 35 feet long? Perhaps it lives in the ocean. Compared to other whales, Omura’s whale is described as small in size. Experts first learned about the whale in 2003, giving the species an official name.
The National Seabird of Bermuda
Bermuda's national seabird is the nocturnal Bermuda petrel. If you ask Bermudians, they call the bird the "cahow" due to its strange cries. This special creature is a big deal to the region. In fact, the bird appears on Bermudian currency.
The Forest Turtles of Arakan
For almost a century, the Arakan forest turtle appeared to be extinct. These critters had no problem with playing dead because they naturally enjoy hiding in leaves and debris. However, the scientific community rediscovered the species in a Chinese food market in 1994.
The Tasmanian Tiger
The Tasmanian tiger’s survival is up for debate. The large carnivore was thought to have gone extinct in 1936, but experts are unsure now. Mysterious sightings by civilians have raised questions about its extinction. Is the creature still out there?