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Species Lost and Found

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Mechanic 1: Great day in the morning. What once was lost now is found.
Mechanic 2: I thought these were extinct.
Mechanic 1: That's what they said about the coelacanth.
Announcer: (Sales pitch)
Mechanic 1: It's a prehistoric fish. It disappeared about ten thousand years ago, then they caught one off the coast of Madagascar. Coelacanth.
— Volkswagen commercial (the mechanics are talking about a full-sized spare tire)

A species believed to have been dead reappears in modern-day society. Perhaps humans, often showing hubris, bring a species back to life with magic or science. Or perhaps it was preserved in a Lost World, frozen in a glacier, sealed in a bubble dimension, etc.

Super-Trope to Fossil Revival and Living Dinosaurs

See also Not So Extinct, which is this applied in-universe to fictional species.


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  • Two mechanics in a Volkswagen commercial discus this when they find a full-sized spare tire in the trunk of a Jetta. One of them even mentions the coelacanth.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In A.I. Love You, a "puppy" the main cast befriend turns out to really be the last Japanese wolf cub.
  • In Assassination Classroom, the Japanese river otter, declared extinct in 2012, appears in chapters 56 and 88.
  • In Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might, the Beenz twins Rezun and Rakasei (the two purple midgets) are members of an extinct race Big Bad Turles revived from fossils using extract of the Tree of Might. Note that is not conveyed in the movie itself, but rather in All There in the Manual supplementary material released alongside it.
  • Wolves in Wolf's Rain. Thought to have been extinct for 200 years, actually hanging on in disguise. Not for much longer, though — just until the end of the world.
  • The Pokémon episode "Attack of the Prehistoric Pokemon" involves Ash and his friends encountering inexplicably living examples of several fossil Pokemon, such as Aerodactyl, Kabuto, and Omanyte.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men: The Savage Land plays with this, as it is a Lost World in the arctic with Living Dinosaurs and other extinct animals, but as it was actually created during prehistory its wildlife cannot truly be said to have been extinct and revived. Instead, they were preserved from extinction and have carried on for millions of years as though the K-T meteor never hit.

    Comic Strips 
  • The dinosaurs in Dilbert have just been in hiding.
  • In Safe Havens, Samantha uses a DNA sample to turn two chickens into dodos. They end up producing a dodo egg, leading to Samantha's research on reviving a species. As of September 2016, there are now three generations of dodos: the original chickens, their son and a dodo another university revived, and the son's children.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bridge has numerous Kaiju that are prehistoric in origin note  and uses an alternate timeline of the Godzilla franchise. Expanded material shows that various Lost Worlds exist and have been documented since the early 2000s with some found earlier but falling into obscurity. The author also took the effort to explain how dinosaurs and many other prehistoric animals could go unnoticed in the fossil record for so long by showing all non-avian dinosaurs and the pterosaurs did go extinct 65 million years ago, but in many cases the Advanced Ancient Humans from the Rebirth of Mothra and Gamera series recreated numerous prehistoric species thousands of years in the past with a mix of science and mysticism, either for scientific curiosity or as genetic templates to create living weaponized kaiju against the Big Bad. So it's a case of Fossil Revival, just one that happened thousands of years ago and some remnants survived.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla:
    • The monster Baragon is some sort of ancient dinosaur-thing that has somehow managed to escape extinction by living underground in its initial appearance in Frankenstein Conquers the World. Another one, or possibly the same one, was later relocated to Monster Island in the film Destroy All Monsters.
    • Likewise, there's Godzilla himself. Before mutating, Godzilla was simply a Godzillasaurus who was living on a remote island somewhere near Japan. As the original film heavily implies and the sequels prove true, there's more than one Godzillasaurus in existence... of course, most of them have probably mutated by now.
    • Anguirus from Godzilla Raids Again is a giant ankylosaur that somehow managed to escape extinction... uh... somehow.
    • The film King Kong Escapes features Gorosaurus, a giant T-Rex type of dinosaur that was living on a remote island. It, or possibly another one of its species, was later moved to Monster Island in the film Destroy All Monsters.
    • Titanosaurus from Terror of Mechagodzilla was a giant sea-dwelling dinosaur who lived peacefully away from humans until a Mad Scientist discovered him.
    • Destoroyah of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah originated from a preserved, isolated colony of microscopic Precambrian crustaceans that were mutated by the Oxygen Destroyer and conglomerated into a bigger creature.
  • The Jurassic Park films are rooted in this trope, as with the novels the first two films are based on. This trope is somewhat played with, though, as the revived dinosaurs are not perfect genetic revivals, but rather mutants created from incomplete dino DNA and LEGO Genetics. First book hero Alan Grant calls them "genetically-engineered theme-park monsters", which is a particularly apt description of the hybrids seen in Jurassic World.
  • Star Trek IV: Whales became this via Time Travel. Not necessarily a revival (as the actual whales were alive the entire trip), but still an example nonetheless.
  • In Rodan, people discover ancient giant Pteranodon eggs that hatch into the titular monsters and begin terrorizing Japan.
  • King Kong: Dinosaurs inhabit Kong's Island. It is a "lost" island, after all.
  • The Jungle Book (2016): King Louie is changed from an extant orangutan in the animated film to an extinct Gigantopithecus, the largest known primate that ever existed.

  • In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1912), Professor Challenger brings a pterodactyl back to civilization. It escapes while it's being shown off.
  • Another one for human interference: in the Thursday Next book series, dodos and Neanderthals have been brought back to life thanks to new technologies.
  • Reg Chronotis from Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency went back in time in order to save the Coelacanth from extinction, at the price of having the dodo die out.
  • In The Company Novels, one of the Company's sidelines is buying up apparently worthless plots of land that coincidentally turn out to be the home of a breeding colony of some valuable species previously thought to be extinct. (Time travel is involved.)
  • Clive Cussler uses this trope in The Mediterranean Caper: Dirk Pitt comes into the book because he investigates sabotage on an expedition to find a rumored missing link between fish and mammal known as The Teaser. Instead of looking for the fish, Pitt unravels a Nazi plot and smuggling operation. He also gets his fish, but that happens so quickly when he does that it's possible to miss it.
  • Jurassic Park: Revived Dinosaurs by Technology. They are now left alone... mostly.
    • When the mangled remains of one such dinosaur are found, Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler wonder if it might be a rediscovery like the Coelacanth. This is before they learn about John Hammond's little "science project."
  • The Mockery Bird: The eponymous bird was worshiped as a god by the natives of the small tropical island Zenkali until it was hunted to extinction by the colonizers. The book's protagonists discover that a small population of these birds are still around in a valley which the colonizers intend to destroy to build a power plant for the island's airport.
  • Essentially the entire premise of Stephen Baxter's Mammoth Trilogy: Woolly mammoths have survived on a tiny island off the coast of Siberia. Then they go to Mars.
  • In Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, "The White Seal" reveals that Steller's sea cow wasn't hunted to extinction after all. Some of them have found a safe home from humans on an island.
  • The children's book Puzzle Island by Paul Adshead centers around this. It is presented as the diary of a man who has discovered a pair of living specimens of a certain animal believed to be extinct. Throughout the book, the reader must solve a series of puzzles in order to figure out what it is. It's the dodo.
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth: Many prehistoric animals are revealed to still live deep in the Earth, including mastodons, ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurus, pterosaurs, Glyptodon, Megatherium and a few others.
  • The Killing Star: The technology needed to bring back extinct animals comes about in the late 90's, after an attempt to bring back an ancient microbe from a sample of dinosaur blood inadvertently leads to a plague that kills all species of birds and a resulting ecological apocalypse. Once the birds are brought back and the ecosystem restored, the technology becomes an ordinary part of life, with miniaturized dinosaurs becoming household pets by 2070.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The seventh season of the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer shows the Turok-Han, an ancient, very strong and very primitive race of vampires. Giles says he thought she was a myth until he saw one. It is implied that they have been hidden since the Primordium Age until the seventh season Big Bad finally freed them.
    • In the comics, Andrew clones some demonic species that had long since died out.
  • The Doctor Who episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Some conservation-minded ancestors of the Silurians had cryogenically preserved some Cretaceous wildlife in hope of returning to re-stock the Earth after the K-T asteroid's destructive effects had abated, but their ship went off-course and wound up drifting for millions of years.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine revealed that some time after the original series the Klingon Empire embarked upon 'The Great Tribble Hunt,' rendering the species extinct. Unfortunately for them the special episode commemorating the franchise's 40th anniversary resulted in the crew going back in time and bringing a tribble back with them when they returned. Given their prodigious reproductive capabilities their numbers once again rapidly exapnded.

    Print Media 
  • Fortean Times has a strong interest in this aspect of cryptozoology and in fact has followed several cases where animals thought extinct appear to have returned to the world. it speculates, among other things, the British large cats people persist in seeing might possibly be a surviving native population, lingering on in small elusive numbers after being presumed extinct many hundreds of years ago.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One example of fantasy creatures returning when The Magic Comes Back is the Shadowrun Tabletop RPG.
  • A variation appears in the game "Dino Hunt", with a "Relict Species" card that allows a player to collect a dinosaur from a time period later than the normal range for its species. Justifed by the card's Flavor Text, which notes that the fossil record (and thus our knowledge of when each species went extinct) is incomplete.

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing invokes the Coelacanth; see below.
  • As with Jurassic Park above, this trope is more or less the founding premise of the Dino Crisis series.
  • Fur Fighters has a whole hidden world (which you might actually miss) found by digging down with a seriously large drill. Once down there you find a futuristic Dinosaur society where the titular characters are stars in a children's comic book.
  • Pokémon has Relicanth, based on the most famous real-life example, the coelacanth.
    • Predating Relicanth are Aerodactyl and Kabuto/Omanyte, the two fossils that can be revived by the player in the Gen 1 games Pokémon Red and Blue.
  • In Syberia, it turns out that woolly mammoths are Not Dead Yet and living on the eponymous island of Syberia, up in the north.
  • The first three Tomb Raider games has Lara Croft encounter a Tyrannosaurus rex at one point in areas where humans have not inhabited the area for ages. Lara technically doesn't have to kill the dinosaur in order to advance (she can just dodge its attacks while gathering up key items and then leave), but in the Anniversary remake, the T-Rex is a full fledged boss fight that can't be avoided.
  • Touhou 14: Double Dealing Character introduces Kagerou Imaizumi, the werewolf based on the extinct Honshu/Japanese wolf. Also crosses over with Not So Extinct due to her werewolf nature.
  • Valkyria Chronicles: the central twist is that the Valkyria, a race believed to be extinct, still live on in the blood of two female characters in the game, and proves the possibility there could be more out there.

    Web Comics 
  • There's always time travel for bringing an extinct dinosaur species back, like Cassie from Times Like This did.

    Western Animation 
  • In the 1940's Superman cartoon "The Arctic Giant," a "Tyrannosurus Rex" is thawed out of a huge chunk of ice and goes berserk.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: A dinosaur is revived by Shen Gon Wo that can convert anything (in this case, oil) to a previous form.
  • On Gargoyles, the main characters wake up from a thousand-year curse in modern New York; aside from their enemy, the immortal Demona, they seem to be the last gargoyles in existence. Eventually we discover several other gargoyle clans living around the world, with Word of God putting the species' current population at about 400.
  • In the Futurama episode "Fun on a Bun", Fry ends up in a Lost World inhabited by thought-to-be-extinct neanderthals and Ice Age mammals.
  • One episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers features an interplanetary space zoo that has allowed many species to escape extinction, including sabretooth cats, mammoths, mastodons, wooly rhinos, giant ground sloths, great auks, elephant birds, passenger pigeons and dodos.
  • Yo-yo the dodo from Porky in Wackyland (whose Last of His Kind status is subverted in the end) and his son Gogo from Tiny Toon Adventures. Apparently, Wackyland is where all the dodos went. Though they don't look anything like dodos.
  • In The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest episode "The Bangalore Falcon", the characters find a live specimen of the supposedly extinct titular blue falcon. Later in the episode, they find the mythical kingdom of Shambala where several other extinct animals still live thanks to a river which grants eternal life, including a woolly mammoth, a red mountain tiger, and a three-horned golden orangutan.

    Real Life 
  • Theropod dinosaurs: we used to believe they were all wiped out in a mass extinction event, but there turned out to be survivors all over the place. We just called them "birds."
  • Reports of possible surviving ivory-billed woodpeckers in 2005 have led conservationists to purchase some isolated areas of Arkansas woodland, in the hope that this officially-extinct species might still be hanging on there.
  • The Coelacanth was believed to have gone extinct in the Cretaceous period. Until they were found alive and well in 1938. They're still doing fine. Unfortunately, the Coelacanth is now an Endangered Species again, due to pollution and a tendency for fishermen to kill them pointlessly and destroy the bodies instead of throw them back and risk catching them again because of their supposed horrible, garbage-oil flavor and protected status if you're caught with one without special science permits.
    • Note that the locals in the region where coelocanths live had known about them for centuries, but as bad-tasting "junk fish" of no particular importance. They're only famous because Western scientists happened to have become familiar with their fossil ancestors before realizing these fish were still around.
  • There are still occasional reports of Tasmanian Tigers being sighted in the wild in Australia, many areas of which are far from being thoroughly explored or even mapped from ground level so it's far from impossible. That said, no one has ever produced physical evidence of a Tasmanian Tiger existing on mainland Australia more recent than 3000 years ago, despite huge bounties offered in the past so don't get your hopes too high.
  • The Other Wiki has a whole list of them, both plants and animals. They are officially known as Lazarus Taxa Species thought to have re-emerged after vanishing from the fossil record, but which turn out to be unrelated to the fossils they resemble, are nicknamed "Elvis Taxa".
  • A species of date palm known to have gone extinct in the wild ~1500 years ago has been revived when Israeli researchers planted a seed recovered by an archaeological expedition. Unfortunately, the resulting tree is a male and so can't produce seeds of its own.
  • There have been numerous attempts to resurrect recently extinct species — or, more accurately, to create new strains of animals physically resembling extinct species — through selective breeding of their close relatives.
    • German zookeepers in the 1920s made a concerted effort to re-create the aurochs, extinct ancestor of domesticated cattle, by selectively breeding contemporary cattle for aurochs-like traits. Unfortunately, while the resulting pseudo-aurochs (known as Heck cattle) looked like the real thing, they lacked the necessary survival instincts to fend for themselves, preventing them from being reintroduced to the wild as intended. They're also so ill-tempered and aggressive that farmers would be risking life and limb keeping them. More recent attempts to re-engineer the aurochs — like the Taurus project, the Tauros Programme and the Uruz Project — have come much closer to replicating the original animal's genotype, but reintroduction of the species is still pending.
    • Breeders in South Africa are similarly attempting to re-create the quagga, an extinct subspecies of plains zebra, by breeding zebras with fainter stripes than usual to recreate the quagga's distinctive horselike coat. A similar project attempted to breed back the tarpan, an European wild horse from which the domestic kind descends.
  • Cloning attempts to recreate extinct species haven't yet produced any live adult animals. The only specimen to date to grow to full term, a Pyranean ibex, died seven minutes after birth from congenital lung defects.
  • The baiji, also known as the Yangtze River dolphin, was thought to have gone extinct or at least functionally extinct in 2006 after years of industrialization and pollution of the river they lived in. In 2007, a man caught on tape what appeared to be a white animal swimming in the river and nine years later, several news sources announced a sighting of what has been speculated to be a baiji. Still, the likelihood is that the species is now functionally, if not completely extinct due to the very low probability a sustainable population of these large animals still exist in such a polluted and industrialized environment.
  • The takahē is a species of goose-sized flightless bird native to New Zealand which was originally known from fossils, before a living specimen was discovered (but not before being killed and eaten) a few years later (the native Maori had known about the birds for centuries of course). Then it was considered extinct again by the beginning of the 20th century, before being re-rediscovered alive again in a remote mountain valley fifty years later. Nowadays, a couple hundred of the birds still exist and their population continues to grow.


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