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Nature & Environment

Extinct bird evolved itself back in to existence

By T.K. Randall
May 10, 2019 · Comment icon 5 comments



Extinction doesn't necessarily have to be permanent. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Charles J Sharp
Researchers have identified a species of bird that went extinct, then evolved again from the same lineage.
The remarkable discovery is an example of a rare phenomenon known as iterative evolution in which two or more practically identical species can independently evolve from the same ancestral lineage.

In this particular case, a flightless bird known as the Aldabra white-throated rail went extinct 136,000 years ago and then incredibly evolved itself back in to existence several millennia later.
This rarely-observed feat is made all the more impressive due to the fact that the new iteration of the species re-evolved on the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles Islands - the very same atoll from which the original iteration was wiped out tens of thousands of years earlier when it was swallowed by the sea.

"We know of no other example in rails, or of birds in general, that demonstrates this phenomenon so evidently," said study co-author David Martill, a palaeobiologist from the University of Portsmouth.

"Only on Aldabra, which has the oldest palaeontological record of any oceanic island within the Indian Ocean region, is fossil evidence available that demonstrates the effects of changing sea levels on extinction and recolonization events."

Source: Vice.com | Comments (5)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Not A Rockstar 4 years ago
Wonder why flightlessness is desirable then, as an evolutional eventuality in both cases.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
That's really fascinating stuff. I wonder if environmental change had something to do with it?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
My guess? I'd say that it has a lot to do with energy economy. Flight takes a lot of energy. If the bird can successfully find food and mates without having to fly, the ability to fly goes away.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Harte 4 years ago
Maybe it's more of a case of it becoming less undesirable. To the point that it becomes survivable. The absence of predators allows those born flightless to survive to reproduce. Eventually, it makes no difference whether you can fly or not and you don't try - for energy reasons as stated. Harte
Comment icon #5 Posted by Not Your Huckleberry 4 years ago
Hearing about a species making a comeback never fails to brighten my day.


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