Extinct Animals are Gone Forever
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Extinct animals are gone forever.

Don’t Believe That!

Of course, if an animal is truly extinct it will never be seen again (until Jurassic Park is built, anyway). But, scientists can never be 100% certain that a species is gone – it is impossible to search the entire globe to see if there are any remaining. Therefore, animals are declared extinct once there is sufficient evidence to do so. But are extinct animals every “rediscovered”? Yes, and it’s quite common.

According to a study by the University of Queensland, Australia, more than one-third of all mammalian species declared extinct since the 16th century have since been found alive and well. This was not due to the lack of adequate scientific tools or investigation in the past – animals declared extinct in the 20th century were nearly three times as likely to be rediscovered as those declared extinct in the 19th century. The most common scenario was when a species suffered a loss of habitat and was forced to relocate – it was assumed gone when in fact it had just moved or spread out.

The most famous “rediscovery” of all was the coelacanth – a large, deep sea fish that was thought to have been extinct for 65 million years! One was caught by a local fisherman off the coast of South Africa in 1938 – luckily it was spotted by a museum curator. Another notable example was the Okapi, a giraffe-like animal with zebra stripes, declared gone in 1959 but found again in 2005.

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