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article imageSome mammals thought to be extinct have been rediscovered

By Lynn Curwin     Sep 28, 2010 in Environment
Some animals which had been believed to be extinct for many years have been sighted in the wild, and it is hoped that more of these species are waiting to be rediscovered.
By 1892, it was feared that the Guadalupe fur seal had been hunted to extinction. It was not until 1926 that the animals were seen again, and it is estimated that there are now around 15,000 of them alive.
The Guardian reported that one of the fishermen who spotted the seals in 1926 tried to sell two of the animals to the San Diego Zoo. When they refused to purchase the animals he went back to slaughter the colony out of spite.
That man was later killed in a bar brawl, but a zoologist tracked down the second fisherman, who revealed their location in 1950.
A recent survey revealed that more than a third of the mammals once thought to be extinct have since been spotted in the wild. Most of those thought to be gone from the earth but later found were missing for an average of 52 years.
The Bahian tree rat, which lives in Brazil’s coastal forests, went missing in 1824. In 2004 a year-long search turned up one of the animals.
Australia’s bridled nailtail wallaby seemed to have died out during the 1930s but, in 1973 it was spotted by a contractor who was preparing to clear land. The land in the area was then purchased by the parks service to protect the animals. It is still endangered.
A small marsupial called Gilbert's potoroo went missing in1879, but was rediscovered in 1994. It is still considered one of Australia's rarest animals.
Another marsupial, Leadbeater's possum, was believed to be extinct in 1920 but rediscovered in 1961. It is believed there are now about 2,000 adults, but that numbers will drop dramatically as habitat is destroyed.
Most of the animals believed to be extinct have not been found, and many species are still becoming extinct because of disease, hunting, habitat destruction and threats from imported species.
Diana Fisher, who led the survey at the University of Queensland, said conservationists should target searches for missing species on those most likely to be alive.
"Conservation resources are wasted searching for species that have no chance of rediscovery, while most missing species receive no attention," she told The Guardian. "Rather than searching ever more for charismatic missing species, such as thylacines in Australia, it would be a better use of resources to look for species that are most likely to be alive, find out where they are, and protect their habitats.”
There have been more than 25 major searches for thylacines, dog-like marsupials that have not been seen in Australia for about 80 years.
The survey indicated that the missing mammals naturalists have the best chance of finding are the Montane monkey-faced bat from the Solomon Islands, Alcorn's pocket gopher, from Mexico, and the lesser stick-nest rat, a desert animal from Australia.
More about Species, Extinct, Extinction, Seal, Animals
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