Are there any species on inat that were considered extant when they were photographed and posted to inat, but may be considered extinct now? I’m talking about observations in the last 20 years or so, not more famous extinctions like the Tasmanian tiger, etc.
Rabbs’ fringe-limbed treefrog (Ecnomiohyla rabborum) is on here. The species has not yet been formally declared Extinct by the IUCN, but there have been no records in its native habitat since 2007 and the last known individual in captivity died in 2016.
The individual in the photo was photographed by @ramon_d in 2005.
I doubt there are many that have been photographed in the last 20 or so years and already officially declared extinct. There is a rule of thumb – although no longer followed as strict policy – that a species should have been unseen for 50 years before it can be declared extinct. The criteria are more complex nowadays, but in any case large animals – like Tasmanian tigers and giant tortoises and rhinoceroses – are the exception in that it’s comparatively easy to be reasonably sure when the last one dies. For insects, reptiles, frogs, rodents, birds, etc, it is rather difficult to know for sure if a small population isn’t hanging on somewhere. There’s a surprising number of species that remained unrecorded for decades, often presumed extinct, before popping up somewhere.
The Sierra Leone crab had not been recorded for 66 years when it was found in 2021. The Somali sengi went unseen for 51 years between 1968 and 2020. The velvet pitcher plant was lost for over 100 years then rediscovered in 2019. The world’s largest bee, Wallace’s giant bee, hadn’t been recorded for almost 40 years when it was found in 1981. Jackson’s climbing salamander was also missing for around four decades.
So, all in all, 20 years is generally considered too short a time frame in which to make an official declaration of extinction, unless something very dramatic happens like the total destruction of the last remaining habitat.
I do actually know of one that I believe is officially declared extinct now
Fun story with the wedge-shaped beetle Ripiphorus neomexicanus. 1921 type specimens collected in Albuquerque, 1970 specimens collected in south Texas, and that’s all the data online until I “rediscovered” them in my garden in 2021. However, there are numerous misidentified and unidentified museum specimens from years in between that I’m now aware of. Moral of the story - proving insect extinctions is challenging.
I was curious so I did some googling
There is one observation for a Baiji, though that hasn’t been officially declared extinct yet (and if this picture and date is/was correct, I guess there’s still hope?)
This one has been declared though, in 2020- Chiriquí Harlequin Frog
And another, declared extinct in 2019 (though I’m wondering if this individual was the last captive individual?) Achatinella apexfulva
Its not declared extinct but the last known female apparently died a few years back - Yangtze giant softshell turtle
And another declared extinction, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow
I bet I could find more if I dig, but this is depressing me
There is often a big difference between when a species went extinct and when it was declared extinct, sometimes hundreds of years.
You can browse through this list of species declared extinct between 2010 and 2019, and you’ll see that many, if not most, went extinct a long time ago, but were only recently added to the extinct species lists.
The Baiji observation is pretty questionable. I was looking at that one earlier.
Slender billed curlew
I agree, it is kind of depressing, but also fascinating. I wasn’t aware just how many extinct species had photographs on inat.
Hopefully we can keep that number down going forward with conservation efforts.
Yeah, the Baiji one is definitely suspicious. I’m a little surprised its at RG, to be perfectly honest
Should be flagged for copyright.
It is covered in watermarks and there is no photo data.
Observer came and went in 2018.
Here is the one Hawaiian crow observation we have on the site
Not extinct though. At least not yet anyway.
The thing that was most depressing is how many of these species just have no images online, let alone inat.
How much more have we lost without realizing?
Amidst all of these depressing reminders of how we are affecting biodiversity on this planet the difficulty of confirming extinction at least does leave hope for these rare, uplifting stories of rediscovery. In extraordinary cases these can even involve quite conspicuous and fairly sizable species inhabiting heavily populated and industrialized high income countries.
The Hula painted frog wasn’t discovered until 1940 when two adults and two tadpoles were found in the marshes of the southern Hula valley in northern Israel. Unfortunately the two adults, differing greatly in size, were placed in the same container and soon there was one. Based on this individual the species was described, in 1943, as Discoglossus nigriventer
The next sighting wasn’t until 1955 when a single adult was found at the same location.
A few years later, in 1958, the draining of the original 85 square kilometer Hula marshes that began in 1955 as part of the fight against malaria and in an effort to increase the amount of arable land was completed.
In 1964 a 3 square kilometer area of recreated papyrus swampland in the southwest of the valley was set aside as Israel’s first natural reserve. This was, it sadly seemed, too little, too late for the Hula painted frog. No more individuals were found and they appeared to be gone, almost before anything was known about them. Searches in the remaining swamps in nearby southern Lebanon proved in vain.
In 1996 they were the first amphibian to be declared extinct by the IUCN.
Also in the 1990’s the Hula valley was flooded, and a lake and surrounding wetlands just north of the reserve were recreated. If not in time for the frogs or the endemic fish that had also disappeared this was at least great news for the birds and Lake Hula has since become a top international birding spot.
Then, in November 2011, sensationally, a sixth specimen of the Hula painted frog was found by a park patroller within the reserve, less than 5 km from the original finding sites. Of course this sparked a renewed interest in the species. Dedicated searches turned up more specimens at more locations in the area and by 2017 the species was known from nearly 200 documented specimens, spanning all stages of life.
Every bit as interesting as the new knowledge of the species distribution was the new understanding of its evolutionary status. Based on genetic and osteological analyses of the recent finds the species was reassigned in 2013 to the genus Latonia, a genus of giant frogs with snout-vent lengths of up to 20 cm, split from Discoglossus some 32.000.000 years ago, known only from 3.000.000 – 25.000.000 year old fossils and hitherto considered extinct, making this remarkable species a living fossil, as well as a two time Lazarus taxon, once on the species level, once on the genus level.
Heavily built and with snout vent lengths of up to 13 cm while dwarfed by their prehistoric congeners these large frogs are still twice the size of their contemporary Discoglossus relatives, quite formidable and fascinatingly ancient feeling creatures indeed.
By 2017, still exceedingly little was known about the natural history of these frogs though studies were of course ongoing. I have not followed along since. It appears that they are highly aquatic, opportunistic breeders whenever conditions are advantageous within an extended period of the year, have a long lifespan, low reproductive rate and low dispersal capability. Nearly all of this was still merely hypothesized, though.
We have three records of these on iNat, none of them mine. I did, however, have the good fortune to find 3 specimens one evening in May 2017. Here is one of them.
This is fantastic, thanks for sharing this story! To provide another hopeful example, there is one wild observation of the Spix’s Macaw on iNaturalist, from 1992. It is a species listed by IUCN as Extinct in the Wild. Last year, the first birds were released back into the wild as part of an ongoing effort to restore this species to its Caatinga habitat in Brazil.
Not something that has been declared, nor is it extinct, but recently saw this observation and it reminded me of this forum thread; https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/175876522
First collected from the type locality of Valparaíso in the 1840s, the species was never seen again until records of it began cropping up from the islands surrounding New Zealand in the early 1910s. There is evidence, however, that some of the New Zealand forms are not conspecific to the South American type population, and the only records that can be accredited with complete confidence to Deto bucculenta is the original collection. iNaturalist just helped rediscover a species not seen in at least 110 years, and perhaps a staggering 170 years if the New Zealand populations are indeed of different species.