Friday, May 10, 2019

Extinction is Forever, Except When It Isn't

Extinct species of bird came back from the dead
A previously extinct species of bird returned from the dead, reclaiming the island it previously lived on and re-evolving itself back into existence, scientists have said.

The white-throated rail colonized the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean and evolved to become flightless, before being completely wiped out when the island disappeared below the sea around 136,000 years ago.

But researchers found similar fossils from before and after that event, showing that the chicken-sized bird re-appeared when sea levels fell again a few thousand years later, re-colonized the island and again lost the ability to fly.

The flightless rail can be found on Aldabra to this day.

The extremely rare process is known as iterative evolution -- the repeated evolution of a species from the same ancestor at different times in history.

The team's study, published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, marks the first time the process has been seen in rails, and is one of the "most significant" instances ever found in birds, according to the authors.
What, the island disappeared below below the sea back when mankind was far too insignificant to affect it? I thought that was impossible. Note, that would have been about the time of the last interglacial, the Eemian, analagous to the current interglacial.

Is it really the "same" species? Probably not, but if it evolved from  wider ranging related flying species, in the same place with the same conditions, it's probably close enough for government work. If it walks like a white-throated rail and squawks like a white-throated rail you might as well call it a white-throated rail (unless it's throat was a different color, and we might never know).

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