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.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Caught in the crossfire: little dodo nears extinction



Illegal pigeon hunting across Samoa is risking the extinction of the country’s national bird: the little dodo or manumea. Will this little-known island pigeon suffer the same fate as its namesake? 

Mon 9 Apr 2018 08.40 BSTLast modified on Mon 9 Apr 2018 23.13 BST

Nearly two hundred years after the extinction of the dodo, Sir William Jardin – a Scottish naturalist and bird-aficionado – described another odd, bulky, island pigeon. From the island of Samoa, this one was distinguished by a massive, curving bill that sported tooth-like serrations on its lower mandible. Given the strangeness of the creature, Jardine set it in its own genus and dubbed it Didunculus – the little dodo. Genetic evidence has since confirmed that the tooth-billed pigeon – or little dodo – is one of the closest living relatives of its long-deceased namesake. Today, the little dodo is at the very precipice of extinction, but it remains nearly as cryptic and little known as it did when Jardin gave it a scientific name in 1845. 

The little dodo “is the last surviving species in its genus,” Rebecca Stirnemann said. “The Fijian and Tongan species [of the little dodo] are both extinct. It is the national bird of Samoa and appears in many of the stories often in association with chiefs.”

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