Created By: PapercutChainsaw on September 22, 2011 Last Edited By: Morgenthaler on November 21, 2016
Nuked

Not Quite Extinct

Population of supposedly-extinct creatures rediscovered

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Trope
Do We Have This One??

So, you want to put dinosaurs in your story. However, your story is set in the present day, and there is a slight issue of dinosaurs being extinct. So how do you justify having dinosaurs? Introducing time travel opens a can of worms, and saying the dinosaurs were cloned only prompts accusations of ripping off Jurassic Park.

A popular option nowadays is to Hand Wave it by saying that they somehow survived the extinction. Dinosaurs (or other prehistoric creatures) were somehow trapped in an environment that was safe from the extinction event that supposedly wiped them out. There may be a small population of these creatures left, or only one individual who is the Last of His Kind. Don't be surprised if you see an Adam and Eve Plot thrown in there, too.

A common variant of this is to have a creature frozen in ice, to be successfully defrosted in the present day (Bonus Points if melting polar ice caps are involved.) Other variants have them trapped in a cave, in hibernation, or sealed away by Applied Phlebotinum. Sometimes they may have been just hiding.

This trope can be seen as a natural successor to Lost World, which is rapidly becoming a Discredited Trope as virtually every inch of the earth has been discovered and explored by now.


Examples

Film
  • Ice Age: The carnivorous, sea-dwelling reptiles in the second film, and the dinosaurs in the third film. The ending of the first film also implies that Scrat survives to the present day, (or, at least, sometime after the ice age) by being frozen in a block of ice.
  • WALL•E has plants growing and cockroaches surviving centuries after Earth became inhospitable due to trash, likely to indicate that Earth had since recovered.

Literature
  • Anonymous Rex: 5 percent of the US population is actually dinosaurs in disguise as human.
  • This is the whole premise of Howard Waldrop's short story The Ugly Chickens. A family has been raising what they think are just very ugly chickens for several hundred years. It turns out that they're actually dodo birds.
  • InCryptid a certain cryptid is believed extinct in Discount Armageddon, but it's not.
  • Wolves aren't actually extinct, but the novel and movie Wolfen presume that they didn't die out in parts of the world where they're assumed to have long been exterminated, and still prowl the streets of major cities in secret.
  • Literature
  • In E. R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros, our heroes need the egg of a hippogriff to complete their quest. Alas, hippogriffs are almost extinct and only a single egg is said to be still in existence. But the egg gets lost! Luckily it turns out There Is Another egg, conserved for centuries at the bottom of an icy-cold lake.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Distant Origin", Voyager encounters a technologically advanced species of humanoid dinosaurs all the way out in the Delta Quadrant. Apparently, when the mass extinction came, they left Earth in starships and got as far away as they could.

Newspaper Comics
  • Early in Dilbert, a pair of dinosaurs is discovered hiding in Dilbert's house.

Video Games
  • Most Tibia updates handwave the new monsters as this.
  • In Star Control II, the Shofixti detonated their sun rather than surrender to the Ur-Quan, destroying both the encroaching Ur-Quan fleet and their homeworld. However, you eventually discover a lone survivor who will join you if you can convince him you're not Ur-Quan. It also turns out that there is a cache of Shofixti maidens being kept in cryostasis: if you rescue them, the Shofixti can repopulate their species.
  • The Zaterran/Raptor/Saurian race in Mortal Kombat had been driven to extinction centuries before the time of the first game, leaving Reptile as the only surviving member. That is, until Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy added Chameleon and Khameleon to the roster. The latter is outright said to be another member of Reptile's race, hiding in the shadows and hoping to repopulate their dying species with the help of Reptile, but there are hints that Chameleon is also one of their kin.
  • The alternate universe in the Super Mario Bros. movie is said to be populated by dinosaurs who survived the extinction.
  • In Chrono Cross, the planet counters the temporally displaced Chronopolis by pulling in Dinopolis from an alternate reality where the Reptites never went extinct.
  • The Mass Effect series has several examples:
    • In Mass Effect, the Rachni race, believed to have been extinct for over a thousand years, is revealed to have survived in hibernation (as a bunch of eggs) on a derelict ship found drifting in space. You can choose to destroy them once and for all.
    • In Mass Effect 2, the Collectors are actually genetically modified Protheans, believed to have been extinct for 50,000 years.
    • And in Mass Effect 3, you can find an actual Prothean, who survived in a stasis chamber, though he is more an example of Last of His Kind.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • The coelacanth fish and Wollemi Pine were both know from fossils before living specimens were discovered. See also: Lazarus taxon.
  • The Riwoche horses, raised in isolation by Tibetans for thousands of years, became famous in zoological circles when they were reported to be virtually indistinguishable from Stone Age wild horses. Subverted when DNA tests revealed they only looked ancient/wild.

Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • September 22, 2011
    ladygem
    Real Life example: The coelacanth and some other living fossils that were thought to be extinct

    Edit, while the coelacanth is a living fossil, the term I was looking for was Lazarus taxon
  • September 22, 2011
    Damr1990
  • September 22, 2011
    SonofRojBlake
    This isn't There Is Another. Baby:Secret of the Lost Legend is a Disney movie about the legendary Mokele Mbembe, central African dinosaurs. The Loch Ness Monster is supposedly one of these.
  • September 22, 2011
    SharleeD
    Note that straight examples of this, where a species from the geological past is discovered still around and unchanged, are also becoming a Discredited Trope. These days, Lost World stories are more likely to involve the evolved descendents of an otherwise-extinct taxon, like the V. rexes from King Kong.
  • September 22, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    ^Good point, although some animals, such as cockroaches, coelcanths and crocodiles, have remained relatively unchanged since the days of the dinosaurs. Then there's all those Dinosaur Popsicle variants that have the individual frozen in time, so it doesn't reproduce and evolve.
  • September 22, 2011
    jate88
    Isn't the coelcanth a real life example of this trope?
  • September 22, 2011
    HiddenFacedMatt
    • Wall E has plants growing and cockroaches surviving centuries after Earth became inhospitable due to trash, likely to indicate that Earth had since recovered.
  • September 22, 2011
    Taeraresh
    This is the whole premise of Howard Waldrop's short story The Ugly Chickens. A family has been raising what they think are just very ugly chickens for several hundred years. It turns out that they're actually dodo birds.
  • September 23, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    ^Found the story and had a read. I think it would qualify as a subversion given the ending, but I've put it as an example in another YKTTW I'm working on (Thats No Dog).
  • September 23, 2011
    Ventisia
    The book series MEG is a pretty good example.
  • September 23, 2011
    NetMonster
    In Jules Verne's Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, they discover dinosaurs in caves deep inside the Earth.
  • September 23, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    ^That's more of a Lost World, which is a related/sub trope of this.
  • September 24, 2011
    Antigone3
    Early in Dilbert, a pair of dinosaurs is discovered hiding in Dilbert's house.
  • September 24, 2011
    SharleeD
    Wolves aren't actually extinct, but the novel and movie Wolfen presume that they didn't die out in parts of the world where they're assumed to have long been exterminated, and still prowl the streets of major cities in secret.
  • September 25, 2011
    Hedgi
    There's a great Pearls Before Swine strip about a ( Talking) Mammoth that survived, and everyone exclaims over his, you know, surviving. the Mammoth then points out that no one cares he can talk, just that he isn't dead, and storms off.
  • September 26, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    Classic horror trope. I believe The Thing remake coming out invokes this.
  • September 26, 2011
    surgoshan
    The coelacanth isn't the only example of this trope. In Real Life, these are species known as "living fossils". Term coined by mother fucking Darwin.
  • September 26, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    ^^ Would you be able to elaborate on The Thing example? I just need to know which species is coming back, and why.

    ^I'll put that in, although, by that definition, not all "living fossils" are this trope. To fit this trope, you have to have been thought to be extinct, as opposed to just having a long fossil record.

    On a side note, I think examples should be limited to real-world creatures, just so that it doesn't get inundated with examples about dragons and unicorns which were thought to be extinct in-universe.
  • October 4, 2011
    ArtFever
    Most Tibia updates handwave the new monsters as this.
  • October 6, 2011
    Koncur
    • In the Star Trek Voyager episode "Distant Origin", Voyager encounters a technologically advanced species of humanoid dinosaurs all the way out in the Delta Quadrant. Apparently, when the mass extinction came, they left Earth in starships and got as far away as they could.
  • October 6, 2011
    Ryusui
    • In Star Control II, the Shofixti detonated their sun rather than surrender to the Ur-Quan, destroying both the encroaching Ur-Quan fleet and their homeworld. However, you eventually discover a lone survivor who will join you if you can convince him you're not Ur-Quan. It also turns out that there is a cache of Shofixti maidens being kept in cryostasis: if you rescue them, the Shofixti can repopulate their species.
  • October 6, 2011
    X2X
  • October 7, 2011
    KZN02
    Compare Fossil Revival?
  • April 4, 2012
    plasmawingss
    An anime example:

    • The Dinosaur Empire in Getter Robo is composed of dinosaurs that survived by hiding underground.

    Not sure if these other two count, since they involve alternate dimensions:

    • The alternate universe in the Super Mario Brothers movie is said to be populated by dinosaurs who survived the extinction.
    • In Chrono Cross, the planet counters the temporally displaced Chronopolis by pulling in Dinopolis from an alternate reality where the Reptites never went extinct.
  • April 4, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    Film: The Last Dinosaur (1977)
  • April 4, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    Film: The Land That Time Forgot (1977)
  • April 4, 2012
    chicagomel
    Dinotopia is pretty much made of this trope, with the whole lost island of dinosaurs thing.
  • April 10, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    There was the animated "Valley of the Dinosaurs" and the live-action Krofft show "Land of the Lost". Both from the mid-1970s.
  • April 10, 2012
    AmazingLagann
    I am sure I have seen this numerous times, and there doesn't seem to be anything like this trope listed on this site, but I think this just needs more examples. And the description could use some love.
  • April 11, 2012
    TBeholder
    'Not Quite Extinct, just like "Not Quite Dead"?
  • April 11, 2012
    Koveras
    • The Mass Effect series has several examples:
      • In Mass Effect 1, the Rachni race, believed to have been extinct for over a thousand years, is revealed to have survived in hibernation (as a bunch of eggs) on a derelict ship found drifting in space. You can choose to destroy them once and for all.
      • In Mass Effect 2, the Collectors are actually genetically modified Protheans, believed to have been extinct for 50,000 years.
      • And in Mass Effect 3, you can find an actual Prothean, who survived in a stasis chamber, though he is more an example of Last Of His Kind.
  • April 11, 2012
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • In Cryptid a certain cryptid is believed extinct in Discount Armageddon, but it's not.
  • July 28, 2012
    LordGro
    Literature
    • In E. R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros, our heroes need the egg of a hippogriff to complete their quest. Alas, hippogriffs are almost extinct and only a single egg is said to be still in existence. But the egg gets lost! Luckily it turns out There Is Another egg, conserved for centuries at the bottom of an icy-cold lake.
  • July 28, 2012
    TonyG
    The plot of the Looney Tunes classic "Porky In Wackyland" has Porky Pig hunting down the last Do-Do bird. He finally captures him, and is greeted by hundreds of Do-Dos.
  • July 28, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Anonymous Rex: 5 percent of the US population is actually dinosaurs in disguise as human.
  • July 28, 2012
    SharleeD
    • The Riwoche horses, raised in isolation by Tibetans for thousands of years, became famous in zoological circles when they were reported to be virtually indistinguishable from Stone Age wild horses. Subverted when DNA tests revealed they only looked ancient/wild.
  • August 3, 2012
    HiddenFacedMatt
    While not quite a species example so to speak, Star Wars: A New Hope has Tarkin mistakenly claiming that "the jedi are extinct" to dismiss Vader's claim that Kenobi is on board the Death Star. As of the prequel trilogy, it's implied that the reason Tarkin believes this is because of Order 66, which Obi-Wan and Yoda survived. Furthermore, some Extended Universe materials say those are not the only jedi who survived Order 66.
  • August 3, 2012
    Polarbear2217
    In the 2002 UPN Twilight Zone episode "Hunted", a troop goes to kill the last of a vaguely described vicious beast that they thought had been wiped out earlier. It turns out that the beasts are humans, and everyone else is an android
  • August 3, 2012
    PDL
    During Avatar The Last Air Bender, it was believed that Appa was the last Sky Bison left in the world (before the series it was thought that they went extinct along with the Air Nomads), but some time between this series and The Legend Of Korra, another herd of a different subspecies was discovered. The same held true for the dragons of the Fire Nation, but it is unknown if any survive to Korra's age.
  • August 3, 2012
    MrRuano
    Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs involves a hidden little trove of forest where the dinosaurs are still alive in the middle of the Ice Age.
  • August 3, 2012
    BOFH
    Manga
    • In one Oh My Goddess story arc, a believed extinct space whale is found in a room of the temple that Skuld accidentally expanded to an infinite size.
  • August 4, 2012
    Stratadrake
    We may have a title problem: Compare/contrast Not So Extinct, which has more of a Chekhov feel to it.
  • August 4, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I believe this happened with elephant seals.
  • November 18, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    It looks like we already have this with Species Lost And Found (and Not So Extinct for the fantasy creature equivalent). Throw in the bombs!
  • November 21, 2016
    Morgenthaler
    Bump. Any more bombs?
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