Scargill’s Gannet has been extinct for about three hundred years. Whereas the seabird called the gannet has numerous colonies around the British coast, the numbers of Scargill’s Gannets gradually dwindled away until none were left. Scientists discovered skeletons of this bird embedded in logs and branches – their beaks stuck fast in the wood. It’s assumed that a degenerative eye disorder caused the birds to become short-sighted over thousands of years.

Their original diet was thought to consist entirely of moles. The gannet would spot a molehill forming in a field and dive into the middle of the newly dug earth to pluck the mole out of the ground before flying off. Over the centuries, as their eyesight deteriorated, Scargill’s gannets mistook holes in logs for molehills and were unable to extricate themselves from the wood.

This is an extract from the book Animals Evolution Avoided