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Extinction

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Prehistoric animal, Distant origin

The skeleton of a prehistoric animal

For the ENT episode of the same name, please see "Extinction".

Extinction is a term for the condition of a species of which there are no currently living members.  Extinctions have occurred naturally on many worlds through the course of evolution or natural catastrophes.  Some species have become extinct through unnatural means.

Extinctions

Distant past

Xindi-Avian

The skull of a Xindi-Avian, which went extinct in the mid-21st century

Pre-Federation

Recent past

M 113 Creature

The M-113 creature, the last of which died in 2266

Given that some Malurians had traveled to another planet over a century earlier, it is likely that some Malurians were off-world when their civilization was destroyed by Nomad.

Previously believed extinct

  • The tribbles were believed to have been completely eradicated by the Klingons by the end of the 23rd century.  Tribbles were re-introduced in 2373 when crewmembers of the USS Defiant traveled to the year 2267 and brought back at least one tribble. (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")
  • At some point before the 2360s, the Federation believed that the Yridian race went extinct. This disappearance was so total that it even convinced the Borg, who designate the Yridians as Species 6291, that the species was no longer in existence. Despite this, Rudolph Ransom, a Starfleet exobiologist, discovered that there were some still alive and carried out First Contact. For this he was awarded the post of captain of the USS Equinox. (VOY: "Equinox")
  • The Tarellian species was thought by the Federation to have become extinct in 2356, after their last known ship was destroyed. This assumption was proven wrong with the surfacing of another ship in 2364, though their continued existence remained in question. (TNG: "Haven")

Extinction and the Prime Directive

  • In 2365, Data violated the Prime Directive by communicating with a young inhabitant of Drema IV, a doomed planet. Despite initially invoking the Prime Directive, Captain Picard changed his mind and saved Drema IV and its inhabitants from extinction. (TNG: "Pen Pals")
  • In 2370, Worf's adoptive brother Nikolai Rozhenko violated the Prime Directive by becoming involved with a group of villagers on Boraal II, a doomed planet. After Captain Picard invoked the Prime Directive, Rozhenko secretly saved the group from extinction as Boraal II had become uninhabitable. (TNG: "Homeward")

Background

Not all non-extant species were explicitly referred to as "extinct".

Borg assimilation and near-extinction

Species wholly assimilated by the Borg ceased to exist as a separate species, which was essentially equivalent to their extinction. Even species not quite entirely fully assimilated were so decimated that their extinction was either practically inevitable or considered so by remaining members.

For example, two species that the Borg almost entirely assimilated were the race shown in VOY: "Dark Frontier", though Seven tried to save a handful. It is highly likely that the few survivors ended up either dying out or later assimilated. Another is Arturis's species, which was essentially wiped out by the Borg, albeit with a few tens of thousands of (now homeless) survivors. To Arturis they were in essence wiped out as a species and too weak to regain viability. (VOY: "Hope and Fear")

Endangered

Aside from Borg assimilation, at least one Alpha Hirogen believed his race was becoming so nomadic and far-spread that they would soon become extinct. Other Hirogen, along with Captain Kathryn Janeway shared this view, which led them to create "holographic hunting space stations" – notwithstanding the fact that they backfired. (VOY: "The Killing Game", "Flesh and Blood")

The Kobliad were also said to be a dying race. (DS9: "The Passenger")

While not explicitly refered to as such, the Tarellian species, which in 2364 was reduced to a single known ship crew infected by a virus for which no cure was known to exist, can presumably also be considered endangered.


The Krenim and alternate timeline extinctions

As a result of timeline tinkering, many civilizations were referred to as "extinct" by Annorax and his weapon ship, includin the Zahl, the Garenor, the Ram Izad, the Malkoth, and the Alsurans. until his timeship was destroyed, presumably restoring all of history. (VOY: "Year of Hell", "Year of Hell, Part II").

All of the above were only near or quasi-"extinctions". The only ones referred to as actual extinctions were ultimately restored upon the destruction of Annorax's time-ship. The others would probably be classified as "endangered" in today's nomenclature. The implicit exceptions were cases of total assimilation of a species by the Borg, though it is unclear how often this occurred.

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