What's your favorite "lost" species?

While I still remain extremely skeptical, these are probably the most convincing images yet. That isn’t saying much.


I’d hate to see the other images…


A lost plant has been found again in Ecuador. Gasteranthus extinctus, as its scientific name suggests, was suspected to be among the “Centinelan extinctions” of plants identified by Alwyn Gentry and made famous by E. O. Wilson. However, it lives on! Sadly, neither Gentry nor Wilson are still around to hear the good news. The paper also mentions iNaturalist observations of the species, which had been made, though not identified, before Nigel Pitman et al. made their rediscovery in November last year. There’s a popular article about the rediscovery here.


That’s great news!

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Did you see the recent preprint on possibly sighting some in Louisiana? Multiple lines of evidence indicate survival of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Louisiana (biorxiv.org)

It was discussed here https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/ivory-billed-woodpecker-sighting-widely-accepted/31252

It just occurred to me - does anyone know of any database that lists all of these possibly-extinct-but-maybe-not species? The Lost Species website and the IUCN Red List have lists of threatened and endangered species, but that’s not quite what I’m looking for. I want the “nobody’s seen one for 45 years but it might still be there” species.

Chinese paddlefish, for sure. Too obscure to be recognized for how truly bizarre it was, and gone too soon to know more. I still hold out hope that this fish, the only other (recently) extant member of the paddlefish family, is still out there.

A tragedy that this 23-foot long fish is now gone. It’s pallid face and tiny pinhole eyes are truly like no other. I could go on and on about how much I love this fish (and all other especially weird fish in general), but I’ll hold my tongue. It hasn’t looked good, but maybe, just maybe it’s still out there somewhere…

Here’s a picture- an especially ominous one, at that!

And another picture…

Aaand one more, for good measure


It’s always exciting when a species or genus that is known only from the fossil record is stumbled upon living in the present age. The Coelacanth, a large fish from the Indian Ocean coast of Africa is probably the best known example. Another is the Wollemi pine ( Wollemia nobilis) a primitive conifer, which was known from fossils but was found growing in rugged terrain in Wollemi National Park north west of Sydney in 1994. Now it is widely planted in Australian streets and parks


I would be absolutely thrilled to hear about anything regarding the Trinity River Giant Salamanders, an almost mythical species seen by pioneers exploring the Trinity River area of California. Seems very believable to me; a cousin of the various extant Asian species of giant salamander residing in the upper state, with the last of them dying out just before early settlement. There was a recent exploration in search of them, but I don’t think anything turned up. An interesting case, though!


so not convinced. the photos from the 1930s are like infinitely better, which is unbelievable?

I’d love to believe the huia, an extinct wattle bird from Aotearoa New Zealand, might still exist, but it’s not possible. I live near to where they were last seen officially seen alive in 1907. My daughter is named Huia. There is a rather haunting recording of a man mimicking the song of the huia in the 1940s, and it is the only recorded version of their call that is known to exist. You can listen here: https://ngataonga.org.nz/blog/nz-history/the-call-of-the-huia/
Other birds that would be amazing to rediscover in NZ would be the laughing owl or the South Island kokako. There were still reports of the former until well into the 20th century, and there is still a hardcore group of people who believe the later is alive.


I know a campaign here in New Zealand had the official status of the South Island kokako (a bird) changed from ‘extinct’ to ‘data deficient’, so that might be a category where species possible not extinct are put.


The greasefish (Rhizosomichthys totoae) looks like a living chewed piece of gum and I love it.


For me, it’s Xyris bracteicaulis, as its last known location is only 30 minutes from where I am, and is/was only 2 species endemic to Long Island. However, it hasn’t been seen since 1907, but who knows?


That one sounds cool! You never know, maybe there’s a patch of it clinging on somewhere. I wonder how long the seeds can persist in the soil seedbank?

Malacothamnus mendocinensis, the Mendocino bush mallow, was last reported in 1939 and hadn’t been found since, but in 2019 after we had some wildfires, a single plant popped up and was found by some botanists. So it can happen!


Wouldn’t it be something to find a lost population of Eoanthropus dawsoni?

Metriopelma breyeri has to be my pick, it is in a monophyletic genus, and I haven’t seen a picture of it. It is a tarantula found in Guanajuato.

A note of hope for finding these species!
“Conservationists find native magnolia for first time since 1925 after original habitat destroyed by deforestation”


Perhaps an unoriginal choice, but Psephurus gladius, the Chinese Paddlefish. One of the world’s largest freshwater fishes done in by pollution and overhunting. So sad that it is now lost, leaving only one living member of it’s family, the American Paddlefish. If the American Paddlefish is lost too, then that’s an entire family of spectacular, fascinating and unique fishes destroyed.