As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday 2 July 2018

Cockatoo discovery reveals flourishing medieval trade routes around Australia's north

June 25, 2018, University of Melbourne
Images of an Australasian cockatoo have been discovered in a manuscript dating from 13th century Sicily, now held in the Vatican library.
This finding reveals that trade in the waters in and around Australia's north was flourishing as far back as medieval times, linked into sea and overland routes to Indonesia, China, Egypt and beyond into Europe.
The four images of the white cockatoo feature in the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II of Sicily's De Arte Venandi cum Avibus (The Art of Hunting with Birds), which dates from between 1241 and 1248.
These coloured drawings pre-date by 250 years what was previously believed to be the oldest European depiction of a cockatoo, in Andrea Mantegna's 1496 altarpiece Madonna della Vittoria.
Faculty of Arts School of Historical and Philosophical Studies Honorary Research Fellow Heather Dalton in 2014 published an article about the cockatoo in Mantegna's 15th century painting.
This article captured the attention of three Finnish scholars at the Finnish Institute in Rome, who were working on De Arte Venandi cum Avibus and who realised they had found much older depictions.
The resulting collaboration between Dr. Dalton, Pekka Niemelä (a biologist and environmental scientist at the University of Turku), Jukka Salo (a zoologist and Head of the Sino-Finnish research and conservation program on the Giant Panda) and Simo Örmä (Intendant of the Finnish Institute in Rome) reveals that Frederick's cockatoo was likely to have been either a female Triton or one of three sub-species of Yellow-crested Cockatoo (also known as Lesser Suphur-crested).

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