List of extinct animals of the British Isles
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This is a list of extinct animals of the British Isles. Only a small number of these are globally extinct, most famously the Irish elk, great auk and woolly mammoth. Most of the remainder survive to some extent outside the islands. The list includes introduced species only in cases where they were able to form self-sustaining colonies for a time. Only Pleistocene species, and specifically those extinct since the Ipswichian interglacial (c.130,000 - c.115,000 BP), Devensian glaciation (c.115,000 – c. 11,700 BP) or into the Holocene (c.11,700 BP - present), are included. Great Britain was cut off from mainland Europe in around 8,200 BP by the Storegga Slide tsunami flooding Doggerland. The date beside each species is the last date when a specimen was observed in the wild or, where this is not known, the approximate date of extinction.
- 1 Mammals
- 2 Birds
- 3 Fish
- 4 Amphibians
- 5 Reptiles
- 6 Insects
- 7 Arachnids
- 8 Crustaceans
- 9 Reintroduction and re-establishment
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
Many of the early dates are very approximate, since caves in Britain were often excavated before modern archaeological stratifications and dating techniques.
|Common Name||Species||Latest Recorded||Notes||References|
|Arctic lemming||Dicrostonyx torquatus||c. 10,000 BP||Late Glacial|||
|Arctic fox||Vulpes lagopus||c. 10,000 BP||Late Glacial|||
|Barbary macaque||Macaca sylvanus||c. 130,000 BP||Early Ipswichian|||
|†Cave bear||Ursus spelaeus||c. 15,000 B.C.|
|†Cave hyena||Crocuta crocuta spelaea||c. 32,000 BP||Devensian|||
|†Cave lion||Panthera spelaea||c. 32,000 BP||Devensian|||
|Coypu||Myocastor coypus||A.D. 1978||Modern, introduced non-native|
|†Eurasian aurochs||Bos primigenius||c. 1000 B.C.|
|Eurasian beaver||Castor fiber||A.D. 1526||reintroduced|
|Eurasian brown bear||Ursus arctos arctos||c. A.D. 1000|
|Eurasian elk||Alces alces||c. 3200-600 B.C.|
|Eurasian lynx||Lynx lynx||c. A.D. 400|
|Eurasian wolf||Canis lupus lupus||A.D. 1680-1786||1680 in Great Britain, 1786 in Ireland|||
|†European Ice Age leopard||Panthera pardus spelaea||c. 24,000 B.C.|
|†European jaguar||Panthera gombaszoegensis||c. (unknown)|
|Gray whale||Eschrichtius robustus||c. 598 B.C.|
|†Hippopotamus||Hippopotamus amphibius||c. 135-114,000 BP||Ipswichian|||
|†Irish elk||Megaloceros giganteus||c. 6000 B.C.|
|Musk ox||Ovibos moschatus||c. (unknown)|
|Musk rat||Ondatra zibethicus||1937||non-native|||
|Narrow-headed vole||Microtus gregalis||c. 8000 B.C.|
|†Narrow-nosed rhinoceros||Stephanorhinus hemiotoechus||c. 12,000 B.C|
|Reindeer||Rangifer tarandus||c. 8000 B.C||reintroduced|||
|Root vole||Microtus oeconomus||c. 1500 B.C.|
|Saiga antelope||Saiga tatarica||c. 10,000 B.C.|
|†Scimitar-toothed cat||Homotherium latidens||c. 30,000 B.C.|||
|Steppe bison||Bison priscus||c. unknown|||
|Steppe lemming||Lagurus lagurus||c. 8000 B.C|
|Steppe pika||Ochotona pusilla||c. 8000 B.C.|
|†Straight-tusked elephant||Palaeoloxodon antiquus||c. 115,000 BP||Late Ipswichian|||
|†Tarpan||Equus ferus ferus||c. 7000 B.C.||re-established proxy|||
|Walrus||Odobenus rosmarus||c. 1000 B.C.||occasional visitor|||
|Wild boar||Sus scrofa||c. 1400||reintroduced|||
|Wisent||Bison bonasus||c. 3000 B.C.|
|Wolverine||Gulo gulo||c. 6000 B.C.|
|†Woolly mammoth||Mammuthus primigenius||c. 10,000 B.C.|
|†Woolly rhinoceros||Coelodonta antiquitatis||c. 10,000 B.C.|
- Common crane – late medieval period (re-established)
- Dalmatian pelican – c. 1000 B.C.
- Eurasian eagle owl - c. 8000 B.C. (re-established)
- Eurasian spoonbill – 17th century (as a breeding bird) (re-established)
- Fea's petrel – Iron Age
- †Great auk – 1844
- Great bustard – 19th century (reintroduced)
- Kentish plover – 20th century (last breeding record 1979)
- Little egret – late medieval period (re-established)
- Northern goshawk – late 19th century (possibly reintroduced)
- Osprey – 1916 (re-established)
- Pied avocet – 19th century (re-established)
- Red-backed shrike – 1989 (as a regular breeding bird)
- Western capercaillie – 1780s (reintroduced)
- Western marsh harrier – late 19th century (re-established)
- White stork – 1416 (reintroduced)
- White-tailed eagle – 1916 (reintroduced)
- Wryneck (as a regular breeding bird)
- Agile frog – c. A.D. 1000
- European tree frog – 1986 (reintroduced)
- Moor frog – c. A.D. 1000
- Pool frog – 1999 (reintroduced)
- Aesculapian snake – c. Atlantic period >3000 B.C(escaped populations in London and Snowdonia)
- European pond terrapin – ≤ 3000 B.C. (possible escaped colonies established)
- Western green lizard – c. (Unknown)(escaped populations in Bournemouth)
- Agonum sahlbergi (ground beetle) – 1914
- Blue stag beetle – 19th century
- Graphoderus bilineatus (water beetle) – 1906
- Harpalus honestus (ground beetle) – 1905
- Horned dung beetle – 1957
- Ochthebius aeneus (water beetle) – 1913
- Platydema violaceum (tenebrionid) – 1957
- Rhantus aberratus (water beetle) – 1904
- Scybalicus oblongiusculus (ground beetle) – 1926
- Teretrius fabricii (histerid) – 1907
Bees, wasps and ants
- Andrena polita (mining bee) – 1934
- Bombus pomorum, apple bumblebee – 1864
- Bombus cullumanus, Cullum's bumblebee – 1941
- Eucera tuberculata (mining bee) – 1941
- Halictus maculatus (mining bee) – 1930
- Mellinus crabroneus (digger wasp) – c. 1950
- Odynerus reniformis (mason wasp) – 1915
- Odynerus simillimus (mason wasp) – 1905
- Bombus subterraneus, short-haired bumblebee – 1989
Butterflies and moths
General reference: Waring et al., 2009.
- Aporia crataegi, black-veined white – 1925
- Borkhausenia minutella – 1950
- Conformist (moth) –
- Euclemensia woodiella (moth) – 1829
- Flame brocade (moth) – 1919
- Frosted yellow (moth) – 1914
- Gypsy moth – 1907; reappeared 1995
- Isle of Wight wave (moth) – 1931
- Large chequered skipper – c. 1989 (non-native, Channel Islands)
- Large copper – 1865
- Many-lined (moth) – 1875
- Map – c. 1914 (non-native)
- Mazarine blue – 1906
- Orache moth – 1915
- Reed tussock (moth) – 1875
- Scarce black arches (moth) – 1898 (transitory resident)
- Speckled beauty (moth) – 1898
- Union rustic (moth) – 1919
- Viper's bugloss (moth) –1969
Dragonflies and damselflies
- Hydropsyche bulgaromanorum (caddis fly) – 1926
- Hydropsyche exocellata (caddis fly) – 1901
† – Species is extinct worldwide
Reintroduction and re-establishment
The white-tailed eagle has been successfully re-established on the western coast of Scotland. Having clung on in parts of Wales, red kites have been successfully re-established in parts of England and Scotland. Ongoing projects involve both these species: the corn crake into parts of England and Scotland, and the great bustard on Salisbury Plain.
European beavers have been reintroduced to parts of Scotland, and there are plans to bring them back to other parts of Britain. A five-year trial reintroduction at Knapdale in Argyll started in 2009 and concluded in 2014. A few hundred beavers live wild in the Tay river basin, as a result of escapes from a wildlife park. A similar reintroduction trial is being undertaken on the river otter in Devon, England. Also, around the country, beavers have been introduced into fenced reserves for many reasons including flood prevention. In 2016, beavers were recognised as a British native species, and will be protected under law.
In 2008, elk were released into a fenced reserve on the Alladale Estate in the Highlands of Scotland. Reindeer were re-established in 1952; approximately 150–170 reindeer live around the Cairngorms region in Scotland.
In 1998, MAFF, now known as DEFRA released a report concerning the presence of two populations of wild boar living freely in the UK. These boar are thought to have escaped from wildlife parks, zoos and from farms where they are farmed for their meat, and gone on to establish breeding populations.
Around 20 white storks pass through the UK each year. A colony at the Knepp Estate in Sussex, aided by zoologist Roisin Campbell-Palmer, hopes to reinforce these off-path migrants by introducing adults into a fenced reserve, where the juveniles born will be able to establish other colonies further afield.
The northern clade of the pool frog was reintroduced from Swedish stock in 2005, to a single site in Norfolk, England, following detailed research to prove that it had been native prior to its extinction around 1993.
The large blue butterfly has been successfully re-established from Swedish stock at a number of sites, but few of these are open-access. There are also several successful cases of the establishment of new populations of heath fritillary.
There have been calls for the reintroduction of the Eurasian lynx, brown bear and grey wolf to the UK, because no large predators are living in viable populations in Great Britain. It is theorized that a large predators presence could create a trophic cascade, thus improving the ecosystem.
- List of mammals of the British Isles
- Extinct animals from the Isle of Man
- List of extinct animals of Europe
- List of extinct plants of the British Isles
- Introduced species of the British Isles
- Timeline of prehistoric Britain
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- Wolves in Great Britain, Wolves in Ireland
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- Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust - Eagle Owl
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