DNA test on new parrot species Doubt on bird find
NORTH Queensland naturalist John Young will have to produce ‘extraordinary’ evidence to prove his discovery of a new parrot species is real.
The Ingham-based birdwatcher claimed he rediscovered the rare Coxen’s fig parrot last month.
His discovery is awaiting a DNA test that Mr Young hopes will prove it is either the same bird, which has not been seen in the wild for 130 years, or an entirely new species.
Since his find was announced, however, it has been questioned by birdwatchers and media.
Mr Young, however, assured the TownsvilleBulletin his discovery was real, claiming everyone would have to wait until further evidence was published in a scientific paper.
The Australian Museum’s bird collection manager Walter Boles said he would like to believe the discovery was real, but Mr Young still had much to prove.
‘‘My hope is that if John Young did indeed get a little bit of feather material from the chicks and they’re able to do DNAon it and compare it with Coxen’s fig parrot we will have a much more objective answer to this,’’ Dr Boles said.
The fig parrot was spotted at a secret location in south-east Queensland.
Dr Boles said the chances of finding an entirely new species in the same habitat as a similar rare bird — the Coxen’s fig parrot — would be remarkable.
‘‘Given that it is an extraordinary find, it would take extraordinary proof to demonstrate it,’’ he said.
The Australian Museum supplied genetic material from Coxen’s fig parrots in its collection to prove Mr Young’s discovery.
Dr Boles said if the DNAtests showed it was a new species, it would be an incredible discovery for Australia.
‘‘Finding a new species in this part of the world and certainly in Australia is certainly a fairly rare event,’’ he said.
‘‘We described a new one in 1983 and there were a couple back in the 1960s and 70s.
‘‘If you find something that’s never been seen before, then that’s nice. We like those sorts of things.’’
Birds Australia North Queensland convenor Tony Grice said he would accept Mr Young’s discovery.
‘‘At this stage I would give him the benefit of the doubt,’’ he said.
He said a bird species was recently found in the US that had not been seen in decades.