We are all used to looking at guidebooks to learn more about a country before we visit – but how often do we stop and think about the things we can't see there anymore? We’ve created Unknown Tourism, a series of vintage-style travel posters to commemorate some of the wonderful creatures we’ve lost, and are in danger of forgetting.
Costa Rica: The Golden Toad
Despite its name, the Golden Toad was also observed in orange, white, yellow, red and green colouring, as well as its natural gold. It was distributed across a small range, no more than 8km, in the high altitude of the mountains in Costa Rica. It died out in 1989 due to increased temperatures and decreased rainfalls causing the pools of water they bred in to dry up.
Mauritius: The Dodo
A distant cousin of the common pigeon, the Dodo evolved on Mauritius with a bountiful supply of food and no natural predators, which led to its friendly disposition and large proportions. Perhaps the most famous of all extinct animals, the Dodo has become an iconic example of how human interaction can cause a species’ demise.
Tasmania: The Thylacine
The Thylacine will be well known to antipodeans, as it has long been the symbol of the island of Tasmania, featuring on their coat of arms, number plate, and as the official mascot of the cricket team. Able to extend their jaw to 80 degrees, the ‘Tasmanian Tiger’ was an apex predator of the Australasian continent until it was hunted to extinction in 1936.
Jamaica: The Giant Galliwasp
The coldblooded Giant Galliwasp would sun itself in the tropical heat of Jamaica, becoming one of the most iconic animals on the island due to its large size for a reptile – it grew to over 60cm in total length. When settlers arrived, bringing dogs, cats and mongooses, they upset the delicate balance of the island’s ecosystem, causing the death of the species.
Alaska: Steller's Sea Cow
Slow, steady, and constantly grazing, the colossal Steller’s Sea Cows really were the bovine of the waves. Growing to a maximum length of 30 feet, and weighing 10 tons, at the time they were the largest water mammals besides whales. Declared extinct in 1768, their much smaller relatives the Manatees can still be found in some parts of the North American continent.
New Zealand: The Moa
New Zealand has always been home to animals that are bigger than average – the island’s seclusion from the rest of the world meant that they developed what’s called ‘Island Gigantism’ – and the Moa was certainly no exception. The bird could grow to a massive 12 feet and 230kg, much larger than its closest living relatives, the Ostrich and Emu.
The above story originally appeared in Expedia.co.uk