A species becomes extinct when there are no more individuals of that species left. An extinct species has gone forever, although some scientists hope that they might bring back some extinct species using genetic engineering.

Changes in the environment may leave individuals less well adapted to compete successfully for resources such as food, water and mates. Sometimes an entire species may become unable to compete successfully and reproduce. These problems can lead to extinction. Here are some of the changes in the environment that can cause a species to become extinct:

  • a new disease
  • a new predator
  • a change in the physical environment, such as climate change
  • competition from another species that is better adapted, including competition from humans

For example, dinosaurs became extinct millions of years ago. This was probably due to changes in the environment, but many species have become extinct more recently because of competition from humans.

The dodo

Engraving of an extinct dodo
A drawing of a dodo

The dodo was a flightless bird found on the island of Mauritius. It became extinct in the 17th century because of human activities. Humans disturbed the dodo's habitat and also brought new predators to the island, like dogs. The dodo was slow, did not fear humans and was easily caught. It only took about 100 years after its discovery for it to become extinct.