Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Long Feared Extinct, Rare Bird Rediscovered

Date:
October 13, 2009
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Known to science only by two century-old specimens, a critically endangered crow has re-emerged on a remote, mountainous Indonesian island, thanks in part to a American ornithologist. The Banggai Crow will be listed now in the latest edition of an influential ornithology handbook.

Corvus unicolor, the long-lost Banggai Crow, was rediscovered on Indonesia's Peleng Island.
Credit: Photo by Philippe Verbelen

Known to science only by two specimens described in 1900, a critically endangered crow has re-emerged on a remote, mountainous Indonesian island thanks in part to a Michigan State University scientist.

The Banggai Crow was believed by many to be extinct until Indonesian biologists finally secured two new specimens on Peleng Island in 2007. Pamela Rasmussen, an MSU assistant professor of zoology and renowned species sleuth, provided conclusive verification.

An ornithologist who specializes on the birds of southern Asia, Rasmussen studied the two century-old specimens known as Corvus unicolor in New York's American Museum of Natural History. She compared them to the new crow specimens in Indonesia's national museum, to lay to rest speculation that they were merely a subspecies of a different crow. The more common Slender-billed Crow, or Corvus enca, also is found in the Banggai Islands, and likewise is all black.

"The morphometric analysis I did shows that all four unicolor specimens are very similar to each other, and distinctly different from enca specimens. We also showed that the two taxa differ in eye color -- an important feature in Corvus," Rasmussen said. "Not only did this confirm the identity of the new specimens but also the specific distinctness of Corvus unicolor, which has long been in doubt."

The rediscovery was spearheaded by professor Mochamad Indrawan of the University of Indonesia, chairperson of the Indonesian Ornithologists' Union, who conducted ecological field studies. He was assisted by collaborator Yunus Masala and by the Celebes Bird Club, members of which secured the new specimens that are now catalogued at the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense in Java.

Before Indrawan and collaborators could publish their findings confirming the crow's identity, other birdwatchers in the mountains of Peleng photographed and recorded Banggai Crows, which Rasmussen said confirms the distinctiveness of the species.

Indrawan and Masala now have turned their efforts toward protecting the rare species, which is hunted by local residents. That includes making recommendations for protection of its forest habitat through sustainable agriculture methods and, perhaps, eco-tourism, to address the residents' livelihood needs.

A photo of the Banggai Crow debuts this week in volume 14 of the influential Handbook of the Birds of the World. In the meantime, Rasmussen, Indrawan and colleagues have submitted the detailed paper confirming the species' rediscovery for publication.

Rasmussen's visit to Indonesia to take specimen measurements and make comparisons was made possible through a planning visit for a MSU Study Abroad program to Malaysia and Indonesia.

Rasmussen, who also is assistant curator of mammalogy and ornithology at the MSU Museum, is the author of the two-volume Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Her work on uncovering the ornithological frauds of British collector Col. Richard Meinertzhagen won international attention, detailed in Nature, the May 2006 The New Yorker, and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2007.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Long Feared Extinct, Rare Bird Rediscovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091013104340.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2009, October 13). Long Feared Extinct, Rare Bird Rediscovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091013104340.htm
Michigan State University. "Long Feared Extinct, Rare Bird Rediscovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091013104340.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins