Gallirallus sp. 'Rurutu'


 
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Rurutu Rail
(Gallirallus sp.)

 
syn. -

 
distribution:

Austral Islands: Rurutu

 
local name: -

 
size: (?)

extinction date: after 1500 A.D.

 
The Austral Islands show a very limited ornithofauna (bird fauna), especially it lacks real endemic species of land birds, apart form the Rapa Fruitdove (Ptilinopus huttoni), which is endemic to the island of the same name. The island of Rurutu is home to only three native species of land bird, these are the Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa pelewensis), the Reef Egrett (Egretta s. sacra) and the Spotless Crake (Porzana t. tabuensis). All three species are quite widespread in the Pacific.

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Excavations in the year 2010 unveiled the remains of up to now three other native land bird species, two Ground Doves (Gallicolumba spp.), which represent two new species, as well as a new species of Rail (Gallirallus sp.). Both genera were previously unknown from the Austral Islands.

The remains date back to about 1500 A.D..

Certainly all islands in the Austral archipelago once harboured endemic species of the genera Gallicolumba, Gallirallus, Porzana and Ptilinopus. At least the latter genus is now known from the island of Tubuai, Rurutu's neighbour island (see: David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University Of Chicago Press 2006).

 
References:

- David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University Of Chicago Press 2006
- David W. Steadman; Robert Bollt: Prehistoric Birds from Rurutu, Austral Islands, East Polynesia. Pacific Science 64(2): 315-325. 2010