An archive of all the cool dead things that sadly roam no more

Lots of cool things are dead now. It’s a crying shame really, because some of them would have been great fun to have around. Without sounding too twee, I sometimes like to imagine a world in which all those dead things never ended up dying at all.

The Moa

Great name; great bird.

These bastards were massive flightless birds that used to live in New Zealand. There were about 60,000 of them, mincing about the two main Kiwi islands, absolutely loving life for millions of years. With no land predators, these guys just ran about as kings of the country until the 1400s, when the Maoris showed up.

Much like the Dodo, because these saps [literally] didn’t have a flight or fight response, they practically walked right into the spears of the hungry humans. They probably tasted pretty nice too, so were essentially delicious walking meals.

Imagine if there was still a bird walking around twice the height of a human. Mental.

Sadly, because they were all eaten by the Maori, their only predator – mega eagles called Haast’s Eagle – also died out, having nothing left to eat.

The Passenger Pigeon

Sounds boring, but honestly it isn’t. 150 years ago, there were countless billions of passenger pigeons in North America in giant, endless flocks of birds. They were like a red-chested, prettier version of the one-legged filthbags seen trotting about and pecking discarded old fag-ends in the centre of British towns.

One flock in the 1800s took 14 hours to fly past and included 3.5 billion birds. It would have been incredible to have witnessed the sky totally blocked out by an endless sea of squawking flappers for a whole day.

Oh yeah, they were also convenient, easy-to-kill creatures that made for good slave food, so we ended up killing every single one of them. The last one, Martha, died 100 years ago in Cincinnati zoo – recently enough to have an actual photo of her. God I miss her.

The Rocky Mountain Locust

The only thing to assemble in a swarm bigger than the passenger pigeon (deceased) is the Rocky Mountain Locust (deceased). These quite disgusting pests once formed a flock of 12 trillion individuals, enough to weigh almost 30 million tons, and to make me feel a bit sick.

The size of the swarm, which was seen in the US in the late 19th century, was estimated at 198,000 sq. miles. That’s 18,000 sq. miles bigger than the whole of the UK. So imagine the whole of England, Scotland, N.Ireland and Wales filled to the brim with insects. Blergh.

It’s OK now though, because they’re all dead thanks to the way we like to farm and do crops and stuff. Squashed all the eggs, didn’t we? Only took us 30 years, n’all.

The Bison

Technically we still have bison, as there are almost 500,000 of them scattered around Canada and the US. However, most of these contain a decent amount of cattle DNA, and aren’t the original, pure lot.

There are actually only four herds of proper bison left, and only one of them is free from the crippling bacteria infection, brucellosis. These four herd originate from four groups of 5-10 animals that a couple of forward-thinking Americans decided to keep and breed in the late 1800s, meaning every single bison left is probably quite closely related and comes from a very small gene pool.

It’s quite amazing really, considering that there were around 50 million of these massive beasts in North America when Europeans arrived. Look at all those skulls in the picture, which were ground down to make fertiliser.

It’s a political one, involving anti-Native American food-source deprivation tactics, dramatic over-hunting and the introduction of European cattle diseases, but ultimately practically every single one was slaughtered within a few decades.

Although they technically still do exist, I’m sad that you can’t see huge herds of buffalo cruising across the plains anymore, but it’s comforting that they narrowly escaped total extermination.

The Pyrenean Ibex

I’m not actually interested or too devastated about the loss of this run-of-the-mill deer/goat thing, and for once there’s a chance its extinction might have had nothing to do with humans. The last ever Pyrenean Ibex, Celia, was found dead in 2000, but the interesting part about this story is that it’s the first animal to ever become un-extinct.

Using Jurassic Park-style cloning techniques, in 2007 a group of scientists used Celia’s DNA to create a new life, presumably while dressed in blood-stained white robes and with stark, scruffy white hair. And I assume the experiment was undertaken in a spooky mansion atop a hill in some Eastern European backwater town as well.

Wherever it was, the clone only lived for seven minutes before dying of breathing complications. It does give hope though, or at least excitement, that we might be able to some day bring some of these dead buggers back to life again one day. Imagine bringing back sabre-toothed tigers or something. If we want to, that is.

What a bunch of wankers

Loads of animals are gone forever, and it just so happens that they seem to disappear whenever humans show up. I know I moan about humans being evil dicks all the time, but we really are. We’re definitely the bad guys in Earth: The Movie.

There were thousands of other cool animals that are long dead now, that we’ll sadly never get to see. Here’s a chart that shows ‘the human effect’ on animals whenever we show up. We’re like the sad twat that everyone hates who shows up to a house party and makes everyone leave to go to the pub instead. But in this case, the pub is actually eternal death, so the analogy doesn’t really work.

So ever since we were on the scene, the numbers of living things have been dwindling. Just keep killing them until there’s none left, that’s the policy. Here’s a list of pictures of some of my favourite beasts that don’t exist anymore because of humans (probably), most of which were part of the Quaternary extinction event (ie. when humans showed up). So at least some humans got to see them before they all died.

Massive sharks

Massive rhino things

Massive, horrible bird T-Rex things that are literally called Terror Birds

Elephant-sized sloths

Lemurs with disturbing faces

Wooly rhinos. Wooly mammoths eat your heart out

This weird, huge thing

And this even weirder, huger thing

A human-style set of giant freaky people racistly called Gigantopithecus Blacki

The best way to end this ode to glorious dead things and their demise at human hands is to remember that there are still quite a lot of cool living things that have survived.

Think how fascinating rhinos, hippos, giraffes, elephants, meerkats, gorillas, dolphins, ostriches, kangaroos, orcas and blue whales would be if you’d never seen them before. Most of those are endangered. It’s almost as if the cooler the animal type is, the more likely it is that humans will wipe ‘em out.

Let’s try and keep them alive, if we can. Please. Would be sad to read another one of these poorly-written, lengthy rambles in the 4D blog-reality-o-sphere in the year 2050 that talks about how sad it is that all those things are dead too.