‘ Ex­tinct’ flight­less bird comes back to life

The Scotsman - - AROUND SCOTLAND - By MAR­GARET NIEGHBOUR

A f l i g h t l e s s b i r d t h a t be­came ex­tinct when its home is­land was flooded by the sea “came back to life” when a sim­i­lar species evolved in the same lo­ca­tion, sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered.

Re­searchers f rom t he Univer­sity of Portsmouth and t he Nat­u­ral Histo - r y Mu­seum found that a species of rail suc­cess­fully colonised an iso­lated atoll called Aldabra in the In­dian Ocean on two oc­ca­sions sep­a­rated by tens of thou­sands of years. And on both oc­ca­sions, the whitethroa­ted rail - indige­nous to Mada­gas­car - evolved com­pletely in­de­pen­dently to be­come flight­less.

Dr Ju­lian Hume, avian pa­le­on­tol­o­gist at the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum, said: “Th­ese unique fos­sils pro­vide ir­refutable ev­i­dence that a mem­ber of the rail fam­ily colonised the atoll and be­came flight­less in­de­pen­dently.”

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