The Last of Us

True tales of how various species went extinct

Frank Swain
Futures Exchange
Published in
4 min readFeb 24, 2014


The Last Great Auk

The Great Auk was a large flightless bird that lived on remote islands across the North Atlantic. In 1844, a group of Scottish fishermen captured the last Great Auk in the British Isles. They kept the bird tied up for three days until an ominous storm arose. Believing the bird was a witch responsible for their predicament, the men clubbed it to death.

The Last European Bison

By law, only the aristocracy were permitted to hunt the majestic European bison roaming the mountains of the Caucasus in western Russia. Because of this, Lenin’s Bolsheviks considered the giant wisent a symbol of Tsarist oppression and persecuted the animals during the communist revolution. The last European bison in the wild was killed in 1927.

The Last Pyrenean Ibex

The Pyrenean ibex was a type of Iberian wild goat that lived in Cantabrian Mountains of northern Spain. No one is sure what caused the species to decline, but the last surviving individual, a female named Celia, was crushed to death under a falling tree in January 2000.

The Last Passenger Pigeon

Once seen migrating across North America in flocks of over a billion birds, the Passenger Pigeon was wiped out in less than a century by overhunting and habitat loss. The last wild Passenger Pigeon was shot and killed by 14 year old Press Clay Southworth with a BB gun in 1900.

The Last Tarpan

The small, skittish Tarpan was a prehistoric breed thought to be the ancestor of all modern horses. During an attempt by Russian conservationists to capture her for a breeding program in 1890, the last Tarpan was accidentally chased off a cliff and fell to her death.

The Last Dusky Seaside Sparrow

The Dusky Seaside Sparrow lived in the marshes of Merritt Island, Florida, until it was threatened by the development of the Kennedy Space Center. The last four surviving birds, all male, were moved to Discovery Island in Disney World for a hybrid breeding programme. The effort was a failure, and in 1987 the final surviving member, an elderly male named Orange, passed away in the Magic Kingdom.

The Tiger of Sabrodt

At the turn of the century, villagers in Lusatia, Germany became alarmed when a ferocious animal began attacking their livestock. They organised hunting parties to track down the creature, which many believed to be an escaped circus animal. In 1904, a forester shot and killed the “Tiger Of Sabrodt”, which turned out to be the last free-living wolf in Germany.

The Last Dodo

In 1662 the Dutch ship Arhelm was caught in a fearsome storm and ran aground off the coast of Mauritius. The shipwrecked survivors made their home on a small islet where they survived in part by eating the large ground birds they discovered living there. It was the last recorded sighting of a living Dodo.

Illustrations by Jeannette Langmead. On twitter at @jeannetto and on the web at



Frank Swain
Futures Exchange