Young female solenodon at 3-days-old (bottom) and immediately after hairy coat has grown in (top)
The Cuban solenodon (Solenodon cubanus), or almiqui, is one of the few mammals with truly venomous saliva, and is also one of the rarest extant animals on earth. There have been fewer than 37 individuals captured since the species was discovered in 1861. At multiple points in natural history, the almiqui has been assumed extinct, since it had not been spotted in over 50 years (as was the case when it was declared extinct in 1970), or had not been located after extensive professional tracking efforts (as was the case in the early 1990s). However, one individual was photographed by a trained field zoologist in 1999, and an individual known as “Alejandrito” was captured, measured, and released in 2003, and his DNA was confirmed to be that of the almiqui.
The initial cause of “extinction” was likely the introduction of the Asian mongoose around 1550 C.E., which decimated the population in all areas that it was able to access. However, the Cuban solenodon is capable of living at much higher elevations than any mongoose, and has managed to survive the centuries with a tiny breeding population near the tops of the highest peaks in Cuba.
Source: [Solenodon. Glover Allen, 1910.]