The state of Maine is the largest in the New England area and prides itself on having over 500,000 acres of land, 4,000 offshore islands, and 3,478 miles of coastline. Maine has coasts with deep harbors that allow boats to anchor. Maine is called “Vacationland” and attracts 25 million visitors a year. The state is famous for its abundant supply of lobsters. Maine has over 50 native mammal species and 202 bird species; at least 34 reptile and amphibian species; and over 16,000 invertebrate species, some of which are rare.
Hundreds of fossil records have been collected from Maine, but up until today, no dinosaurs have been found. The most common fossil records are prehistoric mollusks, marine mammals, and fishes.
Here are three extinct animals that lived in Maine:
1. Sea Mink (Neovison macrodon)
|Sea Mink (Neovison macrodon)|
The sea mink, scientifically named Neovison macrodon, is an extinct species of carnivore mammal that was part of the Mustelidae family, to which weasels, badgers, ferrets, and wolverines belong. Like the other species in the Mustelidae family, sea minks also have predatory behaviors. Toad sculpins, ocean pout, and snails are part of their diet.
Sea mink was first described as Lutreola macrodon when a fragmented skull of an unusual lark mink was collected on the western shore of Bluehill Bay, Maine, in 1879. It was commonly called the American mink. Neovison macrodon is believed to be the subspecies of American minks, and there’s still much debate about its taxonomy up to this day. However, in 2007, dental studies of the American mink and sea mink determined they are too distinct to be closely related. Therefore, it is more likely that they are different species. The last record of sea mink sightings was in 1860.
2. Labrador Duck (Camptorhynchus labradorius)
|Labrador Duck (Camptorhynchus labradorius)|
The enigmatic Labrador ducks, scientifically called Camptorhynchus labradorius, are North American migratory birds that live in saltwater. They have flat and wide bills that allow them to feed on mollusks. Camptorhynchus labradorius is also known as a sea duck, pied duck, or skunk duck. Female Labrador ducks are often colored gray, while males are black and white. They have small feathers, short rounded tails, and stubby feet far behind their bodies. According to 1995 investigations, they are the sisters of the modern sea duck.
The last recorded sighting of Labrador ducks was in New York in 1878. The most popular theory for their extinction is the overharvest of their eggs. The decline of the mussel population on the United States East Coast is also considered.
3. Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis)
|Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis)|
The great auk, scientifically named Pinguinus impennis, is a species of extinct flightless bird. According to studies, the great auk was the largest species and the only flightless bird of the Alcidae family. It can grow up to approximately 27.5 inches (70 cm) tall and can weigh up to 11 pounds (5 kg).
Great auks are expert swimmers and divers, which makes them very efficient fish-feeders like penguins. However, their foraging radius was limited to the central place where their eggs or chicks were nesting. Scientists believe this imposed certain limitations on their breeding performance because finding a suitable nest that could provide abundant food and safety from predators was uncommon.
The last recorded sighting of the great auk was in Eldey, Iceland, in 1844. Eldey is a small island 20 kilometers away from the Reykjanes Peninsula.
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