Argentavis magnificens translates to "magnificent Argentine bird." Its skeleton was discovered in Miocene rocks in Argentina, indicating this species of giant teratorn lived in South America six million years ago. It's the largest flying bird on record. This creature could grow to more than 1.8 meters (6 ft) tall, with an impressive wingspan of 6–8 meters (19–26 ft). The heaviest among them weighed more than 68 kilograms (150 lb). Compare this to the wandering albatross, which has the largest wingspan of any modern bird at 3.5 meters (11.5 ft).
Argentavis magnificens was a member of the Accipitirformes order. Other members include hawks and vultures. Much like these birds, the giant teratorn's chest muscles would not support excessive flapping; it seems the bird mostly soared through the air, either hunting or searching for carrion. The giant teratorn's skull structure suggests it swallowed prey whole. Lifespan is estimated to have been between 50–100 years.
The regal Barbary lion used to roam North Africa freely. This species was unique as it traveled, not in prides, but in pairs or small family groups. Also known as an Atlas lion, the Barbary lion was a highly recognizable and stunning creature with a distinctive head shape and mane. A male's extra-long fur surrounded the face, and grew from the chest and stomach as well.
The last wild Barbary lion was shot in Morocco in 1927. Since the sultan of Morocco owned domesticated Barbary lions, a small number of ancestors survive in captivity. These royal pets were transferred to Moroccan and European zoos for show and breeding. This isn't the only time they've been kept out of the wild, though. Barbary lions were used in combat against gladiators during the Roman Empire. What's worse than a regular old fight to the death? Being shredded to pieces by a lion might be worse.
The Sceloglaux albifacies laughing owl was native to New Zealand. It became rare in the mid-1800s. The island's only endemic owl, it was last spotted in 1914. Unconfirmed reports suggest it might have survived up until the 1930s. The laughing owl's hoot sounds like a creepy cackle or madman's snicker. Its vocalizations have also been compared to a dog's bark. Other species of laughing owl survive today and it's possible to hear the sound online.
Laughing owls nested on rocks around forest borders and in open country. Some were taken into captivity. They thrived as pets, and even laid eggs without encouragement. In the wild, human settlement and habitat destruction caused them to change their diet. They switched from eating sizable birds (such as ducks) and lizards to more mammals. After this dietary adjustment, natural predators likely hunted them to extinction. Grazing and agricultural burning could have also influenced their quick eradication.
The extinct bluebuck may otherwise be called a blaubok or blue antelope. This animal's black and yellow coloring gave its fur a blue appearance, though the species never actually grew blue fur. It was native to southern Africa. Grassy open areas were ideal for grazing, and bluebucks also enjoyed chomping on bark. They were social creatures, and most likely nomadic. African lions, hyenas, and leopards hunted them before humans arrived.
The population began to decline noticeably around 2,000 years ago. This is when competing livestock were introduced into their habitat. Bluebucks had become rather rare by the 18th century. Predators, climate change, hunting, disease, and even the presence of animals, such as sheep, in their territory may have contributed to their extinction. The last known bluebuck was shot in 1799. Five mounted heads are displayed at different museums in Europe—one each in Austria, France, and Amsterdam, and two in Sweden.
If you've ever wondered what a shaggy rhino might look like, the woolly rhinoceros is it. Fossils up to 3.6 million years old have been recovered from Asia, Europe, and North Africa—the oldest from Tibet. One woolly rhino's gigantic horns were originally mistaken for prehistoric bird claws. Wear indicates woolly rhinos brushed their horns back and forth on the ground, as modern rhinos do ritualistically. The brushing could have pushed snow and other natural obstacles out of the rhino's way.
Woolly rhinos shared territory with woolly mammoths. Though both were especially populous in Russia, neither crossed the Bering Strait land bridge into North America. Woolly rhinos lasted through many centuries. Caves in France show 30,000-year-old depictions of woolly rhinoceri. They were hunted by primitive humans, and became a common subject of cave art. A 13,300-year-old spear was found in Siberia in 2014, crafted from the horn of a mature woolly rhino. It's believed this creature went extinct at the end of the most recent ice age approximately 11,000 years ago.