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Extinct Animals in the Desert

| Updated October 19, 2017

Deserts are extreme environments that typically are characterized by a shortage of water, usually through a lack of rainfall and underground reservoirs. As a result, deserts require a high level of adaptation for both animals and plants to a harsh environment where life-sustaining resources are extremely scarce. Animals that live in the desert are highly susceptible to becoming endangered and extinct as a result of interaction with humans and natural and human-made changes in the ecosystem.

Desert Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs lived in a variety of ecosystems, including deserts. One such dinosaur was the prosauropod known as the Plateosaurus, which lived in a semi-desert environment and fed on drought-resistant plants. Other dinosaurs such as the Gallimimus lived in expansive open sandstone deserts of the Cretaceous period. Other dinosaurs that inhabited desert environments include the Protoceratops, the Oviraptor and the Velociraptor.

Australian Desert Animals

Several species of animals from Australian deserts have become endangered or extinct during the past few hundreds of years since Australia was first colonized by Great Britain. One example of a species that has become extinct from the Australian desert includes the lesser bilby, which has not been sighted since the 1960s and has lost its habitat due to fire, predation by foxes and grazing by cattle. The introduction of camels, rabbits, and feral cats and dogs to the Australian desert has also led to the extinction of the desert bandicoot and the Tasmanian devil.

Endangered Desert Species

Several sensitive, threatened and endangered species are living in deserts around the world. The Mojave Desert has a variety of plant and animals species that are on this list, which are only found in this desert of the West. Examples of animals that are endangered include many species of fish such as the bonytail chub, the Colorado squawfish, the Mohave tui chub and the razorback sucker. Bird species that are endangered include the least bell's vireo, yuma clapper rail and the California brown pelican. However, the good news is that some species, such as the bald eagle, which was once endangered, has made a comeback due to the efforts of scientists, researchers and field biologists.


According to scientists, the extinction of species has been a natural part of life on Earth, with a "vast majority of species" having become extinct, perhaps at a factor of a thousand to one when compared with species now living on the planet. Scientists who have studied life on Earth as it pertains to extinction have divided the planet's history into five different extinction events, each of which entail the mass extinction of a specific form or forms of life. According to Animal Port, the current extinction event has been occurring for the past 50,000 years, which has been "accelerating at an alarming speed," caused directly and indirectly by humans.