The 15 Most Important Extinct Animals in Mexico

Philip Kelley

Between the extinct animals in Mexico The Mexican gray bear and the northern condor are noteworthy. Extinct species are those that have disappeared due to climate change, illegal hunting and the deterioration of their habitats due to human intervention in the country.

While animals can also become extinct under natural conditions, since the Industrial Revolution the number of missing and endangered species has increased alarmingly. In Mexico there are officially a record of 49 extinct animal species.

Northern condor, extinct in Mexico

However, the country's environmental and conservation agencies estimate that the true figure is approximately 129. The main causes of extinction in the country are the deterioration of ecosystems - due to the excessive felling of trees or pollution -, the extraction of species for illegal sale and the introduction of invasive species.

Article index

  • 1 Extinct Mexican animals
    • 1.1 Mexican gray bear
    • 1.2 Caribbean monk seal
    • 1.3 Imperial Carpenter
    • 1.4 Dove of Socorro
    • 1.5 Zanate de Lerma
    • 1.6 Northern condor
    • 1.7 Caracara of Guadalupe
    • 1.8 Ameca Carpita
    • 1.9 San Pedro Nolasco Island Mouse
    • 1.10 Puppy from Potosí
    • 1.11 Passenger pigeon
    • 1.12 Cambarellus alvarezi
    • 1.13 Evarra eigenmanni
    • 1.14 El Paso Carpita
    • 1.15 Nelson's Rice Rat
  • 2 References

Extinct Mexican animals

Mexico has agencies such as the National Commission for the Use and Knowledge of Biodiversity (CONABIO) and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), which conserve and raise awareness among the population about endangered species.

These institutions seek to protect the natural diversity of the country and currently protect threatened species. However, Mexico ranks second among the countries with the most endangered species. The following is a list of some animals that have disappeared from Mexican territory.

Mexican gray bear

Mexican gray bears. Mills, Enos Abijah, 1870-1922 / Public domain

Also known as the Mexican grizzly, it was a subspecies of brown bear that inhabited northern Mexico and the southern United States. It was a little smaller in size compared to North American bears; It fed on fruits, insects and small mammals.

They lived for approximately 20 years and their habitat was pine forests, although they adapted to the arid Sonoran desert..

Their extinction, in the 1960s, is due to the fact that Mexican cattlemen hunted or poisoned them to protect the cattle, the usual prey of the gray bear..

Caribbean monk seal

Caribbean monk seal. Image taken from a New York zoo in 1910. New York Zoological Society. / Public domain

It is the only species of seal that has become extinct due to human causes. It lived between the Yucatan peninsula and the Caribbean Sea. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second expedition, during 1494. They were gregarious animals, that is, they moved in large groups.

They could weigh up to 130 kilos and had brown fur. During colonial times they were hunted for food and to use their fat; up to 100 seals were hunted per day.

The last scientific record of the animal was given in 1952; in 2008 it was officially declared extinct by the Mexican authorities.

Imperial carpenter

Imperial Carpenter. Source: Fritz Geller-Grimm [CC BY-SA (]

The imperial carpenter inhabited central northern Mexico and the southern United States. It abounded in pine forests; It fed on worms and larvae extracted from the bark of trees.

It measured between 50-56 centimeters. During his young life he was brown in color and when he reached adulthood he returned a bright red tone, with a black torso and white beak..

They used to live in pairs or groups of up to 6 birds. Its extinction in 1957 was a consequence of deforestation.

Paloma del Socorro

Paloma del Socorro. subflux / CC BY-SA (

The Socorro pigeon was endemic to the state of Colima, in Mexico. It measures about 30 centimeters. Its plumage is cinnamon colored and it has a blue spot on the nape. Their habitat was devastated and by 1972 there were none left on their home island.

A small number of birds are found in captivity in Europe and the United States, where they are studied by ornithologists. Currently, it is seeking to reintroduce 3 specimens to Socorro Island so that they can once again inhabit in freedom..

Zanate de Lerma

Illustration of Lerma's carrot. J G Keulemans / Public domain

The Lerma carrot was a species of bird endemic to Mexico that lived in the vicinity of the Lerma River, in the center of the country. Its plumage was black and it measured approximately 35 centimeters.

It is estimated that it became extinct at the end of the 20th century, due to the contamination and drought of the Lerma wetlands, its natural habitat..

Northern condor

Source: pì

It is a scavenger bird with black plumage of approximately 11 kilos. The length of its two outstretched wings reached a total of 3 meters; is the largest wingspan in North America.

Their average lifespan is approximately 60 years. Its extinction in Mexico was due to loss of habitat. A few specimens are sheltered in the United States.

Caracara of Guadalupe

The caracara was an endemic bird from Guadalupe Island, on the eastern coast of the Baja California peninsula. Their extinction dates from the year 1900, because they were considered birds of prey and represented a threat to young cattle. It is one of the few species that is intentionally extinct.

Ameca Carpita

This endemic species of Mexico settled at the head of the Ameca river in the state of Jalisco. It was a tiny fish that could measure 44 millimeters.

Its main cause of extinction was the contamination of the river due to agriculture and the growth of urban areas.

San Pedro Nolasco Island Mouse

It was a kind of large-bodied mouse with a short tail. Its color was similar to cinnamon and it was endemic to San Pedro Nolasco Island, in the state of Sonora. It lived in the thickets of desert areas.

This mouse fed on flowers and strawberries. It has been listed as extinct for more than 20 years, it is believed that the cause was the introduction of exotic species in their natural habitat.

Potosí puppy

Potosí puppies are small fish up to 5 centimeters long, endemic to the state of San Luis Potosí. Its scales are bright blue and the iris is yellow.

They are extinct in their natural habitat and there are only a few specimens destined for the study of the species at the University of Nuevo León and an aquarium in Texas.

Passenger pigeon

Passenger pigeon, image taken in the late 19th century. J. G. Hubbard, Internet Archive Book Images / Public domain

Ectopistes migratorius it was one of the most abundant pigeons on Earth until the last century. They were distributed mainly by Mexico and the United States, being their hibernation zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

Its extinction was due to the fact that it was very common to hunt it so that the most humble people could feed themselves. With the expansion of the railroad, there was much business with its sale and the population soon decreased. Finally, pollution and deforestation completely eliminated their presence in North America..

Cambarellus alvarezi

It was one of the 17 species of the genus commonly known as acociles or chacalines. Endemic to America, but mostly distributed in Mexico, its disappearance was mainly due to its excessive consumption.

Already in pre-Hispanic times, acociles have been part of the gastronomy of civilizations such as the Aztecs, and it is still very common to see other species exhibited in seafood markets throughout the country..

Evarra eigenmanni

The evarra was a fish of the Cyprinida family, the same as that of the golden carp or barbel among others. It lived in fresh waters in tropical environments, being also a very popular variety in aquariums.

An individual has not been reported for 50 years, with pollution in lakes and canals being pointed out, as well as the extraction of water for cities as the main causes of their disappearance..

El Paso Carpita

The Notropis orca It was a freshwater fish that was distributed along the Rio Grande in northern Mexico and southern United States. The name is due to the fact that one of its main locations was the border between these two countries.

According to investigations, the disappearance of this medium-sized fish was due to the diversion of water from the Rio Grande for the construction of reservoirs and dams, as well as chemical pollution and increased salinity in much of its habitat.

Nelson's Rice Rat

Oryzomys nelsoni it was an endemic rodent from the Marías Islands, located 112 km from the west coast of Mexico. It was located in 1897, but since then no individual has been reported, considering it extinct.

Large in size, its large tail and long legs stood out. The most probable cause of their disappearance was due to the introduction of black rats, which acted as an invasive species in the Pacific territory..


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  3. Ecoosfera (2016) In Mexico there are already 15 extinct species in the last 50 years. Ecoosphere. Recovered from
  4. El Universal (2008) The Caribbean monk seal has become extinct. El Universal newspaper online. Recovered from
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