The pig-footed bandicoot (Chaeropus ecaudatus) was a small Australian marsupial which became extinct during the 20th century. Despite its name it wasn’t actually a bandicoot, being considered a sister group to the true bandicoots and bilbies within the Peramelemorphia.
Its most unusual features were its limbs, resembling those of ungulates more than other marsupials. The forefeet had two hoof-like toes similar to a deer or pig, giving it its common name, and the hindfeet had a single enlarged toe with a heavy claw. Two fused vestigial toes were also present on the ankle, but these were used for grooming rather than locomotion. Descriptions of how it moved around are contradictory, with the only known scientific account claiming it moved like a limping horse dragging its hind legs, while Aboriginal people familiar with the animals reported that they could move at high speed in a smooth galloping sprint.
Although once widespread across much of Australia, the species was rare in numbers even before the arrival of Europeans on the continent. It disappeared from some areas of its ancestral range before the most destructive invasive species — foxes and rabbits — had even arrived there, and its extinction may in fact have been due to habitat change. The end of many thousands of years of Aboriginal burning and land management combined with the introduction of sheep and cattle farming may simply have been too much for the already sparse pig-footed bandicoots.
The last confirmed specimen was found in 1901, and the last remnants of the species hung on the deserts of Western Australia until the 1950s. The distantly related lesser bilby suffered a similar fate, but recent conservation efforts are fighting to bring the greater bilby back from the brink — and it’s also a much more appropriate Australian Easter mascot than the highly destructive rabbit.