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Remembering All The Species We Lost To Extinction In 2018

You know that saying, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened"? That has to be hard to take if you're an endangered species. I mean, nothing lasts forever, but when you're among the last of your kind, chances are you're not smiling because you were around.

There are even fewer reasons to smile this year, as 2018 saw the last of some wonderful creatures, and 2019 isn't looking much rosier.

In addition to everything else that 2018 will be remembered for will be its lasting impact on wildlife.

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As in, the number of wonderful species that won't be around anymore because they've gone extinct.

Most prominently, the world saw the last of the Spix's Macaw, made famous for its appearance in the Rio movies, in the wild — about 100 remain, but all in captivity.

Three other bird species joined the Spix's Macaw on the extinction list: The cryptic treehunter, the Alagoas foliage-gleaner, and the poo-uli.

Biologists put the probability of their species' survival at just 0.1%, which qualifies them as extinct on The International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

The beautiful eastern puma, once abundant throughout large swaths of North America, was also declared extinct.

Another related population of panthers found only in South Florida faces huge challenges in its survival, with dwindling numbers and its habitat being rapidly urbanized.

The last male northern white rhino, named Sudan, also died in 2018.

Getty Images | Barcroft Media

There are still two females in the world — Sudan's daughter and granddaughter — making the species functionally extinct barring a veterinary medical miracle.

As recently as 1960, there were 2,000 northern white rhinos in the world, but rampant poaching ravaged the species.

For many other species, although they're not officially extinct, it's hard to imagine how they could possibly recover.

The vaquita porpoise, for example, has an estimated population of just 12 at present. It's considered the most endangered marine animal.

The Tapanuli orangutan was only identified as a distinct species in 2017 and went immediately onto the critically endangered list.

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Its population is put at less than 800, and its habitat just happens to be in the way of a massive Chinese hydroelectric dam project already underway, putting the species in peril.

Chinese giant salamanders, known as "living fossils" for surviving eons of Earth's history, are on the brink as well.

They scuttled around alongside stegosaurus and diplodocus, and unfortunately, they have found status as a pricey delicacy, with some selling for $1,500 apiece. An exhaustive survey of their population turned up a mere 24 of them.

Almost every species of lemur is endangered to the point of a "very high extinction risk."

Unsplash | Janna Peat

Of the 111 known species and subspecies of lemurs, all of which are endemic to Madagascar, 105 are under threat from hunting and poaching and habitat loss.

Many sharks and rays are also on the brink, and often of the bizarre and wonderful variety.

Unsplash | David Clode

The largetooth sawfish in particular has seen significant declines and is trending downward. Exact numbers are unknown, but in some areas where it was once quite common, such as Thailand and Southeast Asia, it has completely disappeared.

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