Hemigrapsus estellinensis – It Was Very Good

Yellow Shore Crab (Hemigrapsus oregonensis) on Orcas Island Washington, 2008

Hemigrapsus estellinensis

The Hemigrapsus estellinensis was first described in a paper published in 1964 by Gordon Creel who “discovered” the species in February of 1962. In the same article, Creel shared his belief that the species was already extinct.

Estellinensis’ was found in the Estelline Salt Springs in the panhandle of Texas, 500 miles from any ocean. The species nearest relative, the yellow shore crab (pictured above,) is endemic to the northwest coast of North America.

The small crab was nearly square it’s body dimensions being less than an inch on each side. The crab’s limbs and claws were noted for being smaller than its oceanic relatives’. The small crab was a greyish-green color and noted for the three white spots it had on its back.

H. estellinensis, The Southwestern Naturalist Vol. 8, No. 4 (Feb. 5, 1964), pp. 236-241

Creel returned to the springs in December of 1962 and despite eight days of extensive searching was unable to find a single specimen. In fact, most of the life in the springs was gone, including an unidentified barnacle that Creel had made note of on his February trip. The extinction of the crab and the other life in the springs is believed to have been caused by the containment of the springs by the Army Corp of Engineers .

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Haast’s Eagle – It Was Very Good

Haast’s Eagle (Hieraaetus moorei)

This giant endemic eagle was the largest predator among New Zealand’s fauna. It is the largest, heaviest eagle species yet described. The species was first described in 1871 from remains found in a former marsh.

Haast’s Eagle was known to the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori, who named it the “Hikioi” or “Pouakai.” Maori oral tradition from the late 1800s records that it had red, black and white plumage with “black feathers tinged with yellow or green” and “a bunch of red feathers on its head” and lived in the mountains.

Various studies estimate that the Haast Eagle could have weighed as much 30 pounds and a wingspan of nearly 10 feet! Females were larger than males. The birds feet and claws were as big as a modern day tiger’s! The Haast Eagle was an apex predator and is believed to have hunted that other extinct bird of the island the Moa.

It is believed that the arrival of the Maori in the 13th century and their hunting of the Moa to extinction are the primary contribution to the extinction of the Haast’s Eagle.

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Gull Island Vole – It Was Very Good

Meadow Vole, Manuel Crank, 2010

Gull Island Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus nesophilus

The Gull Island Vole is known solely from 15 specimens collected in 1897 that now reside in Washington, D.C. This subspecies of Meadow Vole was endemic to Great Gull Island off of Long Island, New York.

The species is believed to have gone extinct at the end of 1898 when Fort Michie was constructed on the island, destroying its habitat.

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Guam Flying Fox – It Was Very Good

Guam Flying Fox
Guam Flying Fox, Peter Schouten, 1998

Guam Flying Fox (Pteropus tokudae)

Once native to the island of Gaum, the tokudae was first documented in 1931, roosting with another bats species on the island, the larger and much more common Marianas flying-fox.

Very little is known about the species. The local people, Chamorro, who hunted the bat always considered it a rare catch. The Guam Flying Fox was a small megabat with a body length of about six inches and a wingspan just over two feet. The top of the head is greyish, the back, throat, and underparts brown or dark brown and the side of the neck golden-brown. It is unknown where or how the tokudae lived.

Guam Flying Fox
Holotype skin of Pteropus tokudae. AMNH 87117, adult male, from Guam, collected 10 Aug 1931 by W.F. Coultas

Only three specimens of this bat have ever been collected, the last in 1968. There have been no confirmed sightings since then. It is unclear what exactly lead to the extinction of the tokudae, the introductions of exotic species, forest alteration and degradation, and excessive hunting have all been proposed.

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