Natural heritages are the elements of biodiversity that are found on earth. They include the plants, animals and ecosystems that exist in nature. Geological structures are also considered a part of our natural heritage. Needless to say that man has always been very disrespectful towards this heritage. The idea of environmental conservation has been considered seriously only recently and for a long time we went from one place to other, destroying the natural heritage of that area and establishing our cancerous civilization. Because of this we have lost a lot of our natural heritage. Some animals, plants and ecosystems have been lost due to natural extinction but most of the recent losses have been due to the activities of man.
10. Pink and White Terraces:
The Pink and White Terraces were found in New Zealand and were a great tourist attraction till they were destroyed in 1886 by the eruption of Mt. Tarawera. The terraces were formed by limestone and hot geysers containing large amount of silicic acid and sodium chloride. These wonders were not destroyed by us humans and it’s a shame that now we can only read about them in accounts of travelers of old.
9. The Dodo:
The Dodo was a flightless bird that lived in the islands of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It went extinct 100 years after mankind first learned about it. We eradicated the species in a short time by destroying their habitat and food source and introducing predator species such as dogs to the island.
8. Thismia Americana:
Our mindless expansion has also caused many plant species to become extinct. One such plant is the Thismia Americana that was found in the wetlands surrounding Chicago’s Lake Calumet. The plant was discovered in 1910 and went extinct in just 6 years because of rapid industrialization of that area. The plant was very intriguing as it did not have any chlorophyll and instead used fungus found in the wetlands to get nourishment.
7. The Steller Sea Cow:
The Steller Sea Cow was named after Georg Steller who discovered the species in the waters around Commander Islands. The giant was a cousin of the smaller manatee and grew up to 9 meters in length and weighed 10 tons. The last specimen died in 1768, just 27 years after Steller had discovered the species. The reason for extinction was excessive hunting by Alaskan fishermen for food, skin (to make boats) and oil (for lamps).
6. The Irish Deer:
The Irish Deer was a unique and amazing animal. It was a giant that stood tall at more than 2 meters. The antlers grew up to 3.6 meters wide and for this reason it was hunted as the antlers were considered a good show piece. The last deer died 7000 years ago and now all we have are fossils to remind us of this magnificent beast.
5. The Cave Lion:
We hear in stories about the lions living in caves but neither the African nor the Asian lions live in caves. This is because there used to be lions in Europe too. The European lion was very large with length of 2 meters and height of 1.2 meters. It lived in caves in Europe. Its numbers were greatly reduced during the last glacial period 10000 years ago. The rest were driven to extinction because of the spread of humans in Europe.
4. Amazon Rainforest:
You might think that the Amazon rainforest has not been lost completely and you’d be right. But when it comes to natural heritages, the Amazon rainforest will never be what it used to be. So much of the forest has been cleared that you can see the clear patches as scars on the earth’s surface from outer space. Deforestation for farming and intensive logging has already destroyed the Amazon rainforest. The conservation efforts are being made to save what’s left of it.
3. Baiji White Dolphin:
The Baiji White Dolphin was an intelligent animal that lived in the Yangtze River in China. The unique fresh water dolphin has remarkable intelligence and uses echolocation as it is completely blind. Since the 1950’s, fishing boats and trawlers in the river have increased and with that the population of the dolphin decreased. In 2006 a study was done in the Yangtze to locate how many dolphins were left but not a single one was found even after 6 weeks of searching the river.
2. The Saber Tooth Tiger:
The Saber Tooth Tiger went extinct more than 10,000 years ago. Humans were not responsible for the extinction of these amazing animals but still it is one piece of lost natural heritage that would have been cool to still have. The huge awe inspiring canine teeth that it used to tear open prey would have made quite a scene to see for real.
1. The Dinosaurs:
Speaking of old extinct species that would have made heads turn today we can’t forget the grandest of them all; the dinosaurs. Although these mighty animals disappeared before humans appeared on earth, it would have been great to have a few of them alive today. These animals have captured our imagination more than any other animal and who knows maybe something like Jurassic Park might be possible one day.