Tag Archives: China

Leiothrix lutea ssp. astleyi Delacour

Astley’s Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea ssp. astleyi)

Astley’s Red-billed Leiothrix, described in 1921, is apparently known from two specimens, a male and a female that were found in an aviary somewhere in China.

This form differs from the other subspecies by its forehead and crown being strongly tinged with orange-scarlet instead of being olive green; by the eyebrows and ear coverts being likewise strongly tinged with orange-scarlet instead of being greyish or greenish white; the breast is said to be strongly scarlet instead of yellow and orange; the female is paler and has the ear coverts are yellowish orange. 

According to this description these birds were superficially obviously quite similar to the one depicted below.

Astley’s Red-billed Leiothrix, whose taxonomical status is disputed, has never been recorded since its description and, if indeed it is a distinct taxon, is now extinct. [1]


syn. Leiothrix astleyi Delacour


Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea ssp.) unspecified subspecies, photographed in Japan where it has been introduced and is now feral

Photo: Alpsdake



[1] Julian P. Hume: Extinct Birds. 2. Edition. Bloomsbury Natural History 2017


edited: 22.01.2024

Cyprinus yunnanensis Tchang

Yunnan Carp (Cyprinus yunnanensis)

The Yunnan Carp was described in 1933; it was restricted to Lake Qilu in Yunnan, China.

The littoral zone of the lake was destroyed by agricultural development, leading to a drop in the water level due to water extraction; furthermore, many species of foreign fish appear to have been introduced to the lake and probably feeding upon the eggs and larvae of the native fish species.

The Yunnan Carp was last found in the 1970s and is now apparently extinct.


edited: 15.02.2024

Cyprinus micristius Regan

Dianchi Carp (Cyprinus micristius)

The Dianchi Carp was described in 1906; it is, or rather was, endemic to lake Dianchi in Yunnan, China.

The species was last seen in the 1960s and is now very likely extinct; it is said, however, that the tributaries of Lake Dianchi are maybe inhabited by one or more subspecies that might be still existing.


syn. Mesocyprinus micristius (Regan)


edited: 18.05.2022

Anabarilius macrolepis P. L. Yih & C. K. Wu

Yilong Whitefish (Anabarilius macrolepis)

This species was restricted to the Yilong Lake in Yunnan, China; in 1981, this lake dried out completely for about 20 days as a consequence of water extraction for agriculture.

The Yilong Whitefish had no chance to survive and is now extinct.


edited: 27.01.2022

Anabarilius yangzonensis Y. R. Chen & X. L. Chu

Yangzong Whitefish (Anabarilius yangzonensis)

The Yangzong Whitefish, which was described in 1980, was restricted to the Yangzong Lake in Yunnan, China.

The populations of the species collapsed due to pollution and the introduction of non-native fish species; it has not been found during the most recent surveys in 2008 and might well be extinct.


edited: 27.01.2022

Rafetus swinhoei (Gray)

Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei)  

The story of the demise of this species is well recorded and very sad, I’d like to make it as short as possible here.:  


The Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle was discovered and described (for the western world) at the end of the 19th century. The species was already rare then and had a disjunct distribution with one population inhabiting the Yangtze River catchment area in southern China, and another one the catchments of the Yuan River in northern Vietnam.  

The species can reach a length of up to 1 m and can weigh up to 70 to 100 kg, some individuals were even larger and heavier. It is extremely secretive and only rarely comes up to breathe, largely preferring to stay submerged deep underwater.  


Like all turtle species in Asia, also the Yangtze Giant Softshell Turtle has always been hunted not only for consumption but also for the use of several of its body parts in the Chinese medicine, another tread is the loss of suitable habitat, not at least by water pollution.  

In 2016, to my knowledge, only five individuals were known to exist, among them a single female ….  


Several efforts were undertaken to breed the species in captivity, one included an over 80 years old female being introduced to a 100 year old male in the Suzhou Zoo in China in 2008, this female produced hundreds of eggs, most of them infertile, those few that were fertile perished before hatching because their shells were too thin.  

This last known female died today, April 13th, 2019, leaving the species functionally extinct unless, however, a fertile female might be found somewhere in the wild, but this is extremely unlikely to ever happen.  


Depiction from: “J. R. Gray: Notes on Chinese mud-tortoises (Trionychidae), with the description of a new species sent to the British Museum by Mr. Swinhoe, and observations on the male organ of this family. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History; Zoology, Botany, and Geology Ser. 4. 12(67-72): 156-161. 1873”  

(not in copyright)


edited: 20.04.2019

Craigia kwangsiensis Hsue

Kwangsi Craigia (Craigia kwangsiensis)

This tree species is known only from a single locality in Langping in northwestern Guangxi, China, where it grows in forests on limestone hills at an elevation of about 1400 m above sea level.

The species has not found during recent searches and might indeed be extinct.


edited: 13.11.2021

Anabarilius qiluensis Y. R. Chen & X. L. Chu

Qilu Whitefish (Anabarilius qiluensis)

The Qilu Whitefish was endemic to Lake Qilu in Yunnan, China.

The species disappeared after the introduction of non-native fish species into the lake around 1964; it was last seen in the early 1980s and is now considered most likely extinct.


edited: 27.01.2022

Tapirus augustus Matthew & Granger

Giant Tapir (Tapirus augustus)

The Giant Tapir inhabited parts of China and probably also additional regions of Asia, it is mainly a Pleistocene species that very probably survived into the early Holocene.

The species was the largest known member of its family, it reached a length of over 2 to 3,5 m and a shoulder height of about 0,9 to 1,5 m


Photo: Ryan Somma

(under creative commons (2.0))


edited: 07.05.2021

Cynops wolterstorffi (Boulenger)

Yunnan Lake Newt (Cynops wolterstorffi)

The Yunnan Lake Newt was described in 1905, it was restricted to a small area near Lake Dianchi (or Lake Kunming) in the Yunnan Province, China.

The males are about 11 cm long, the females reach a length of about 14 cm;  both sexes are: “Blackish olive above, with an orange or orange-vermilion vertebral stripe, with or without round or roundish spots or dots of the same colour; orange-vermilion beneath, with black spots or marblings, which may be confluent into longitudinal bands; lower edge of tail vermilion-orange.” [1]

The species was last seen in 1979 and is now considered extinct.



[1] G. A. Boulenger: Description of a new newt from Yunnan. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1905 Vol. 1: 277-278


Depiction from: ‘G. A. Boulenger: Description of a new newt from Yunnan. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1905 Vol. 1: 277-278’

(public domain)


edited: 16.05.2021

Ormosia howii Merr. & Chen

Hainan Ormosia (Ormosia howii)

The Hainan Ormosia is, or rather was, a 10 m tall tree endemic to the island of Hainan, China, that was found only two times, once in 1954 and a second time in 1957, both times in extremely small populations.

The species has not been found since and is very probably extinct now.


edited: 02.05.2022