Tag Archives: Isla de la Juventud

Myadestes elisabeth ssp. retrusus Bangs & Zappey

Isle of Pines Solitaire (Myadestes elisabeth ssp. retrusus)  

The Cuban Solitaire (Myadestes elisabeth (Lembeye)) [see photo] is endemic to the island of Cuba, where it apparently inhabits moist montane forests.  

The species also inhabited Isla de la Juventud off the southern coast of Cuba, these birds, however differed from the Cuban birds and thus were described in 1905 as a distinct subspecies.  

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Similar to M. e. elizabeth, but still smaller, narrower, and more pointed, and coloration clearer and grayer, the upper parts nearly mouse gray instead of deep hair brown or olive, the under parts nearly pure white passing into very pale clear gray on chest and sides of breast.” [1]  

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The bird reached a length of about 17,5 cm.  

The Isle of Pines Solitaire disappeared due to the destruction of its habitat, an ill fate that now also seems to befall the Cuban Solitaire which is officially listed as ‘Near Threatened’.  

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References:  

[1] Robert Ridgway: The birds of North and Middle America: A descriptive catalogue of the higher groups, genera, species, and subspecies of birds known to occur in North America, from the arctic lands to the isthmus of Panama, the West Indies and other islands of the Caribbean sea, and the Galapagos Archipelago. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 50(4). 1907  

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Cuban Solitaire (Myadestes elisabeth); nominate race  

Photo: Francesco Veronesi

(under creative commons license (2.0)) 
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0

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edited: 01.04.2018

Boromys torrei Allen

Torre’s Cave Rat (Boromys torrei)  

Torre’s Cave Rat was described in the year 1917.  

Just like its next relative, the Oriente Cave Rat (Boromys offella Miller), this smaller spiny rat species is known only from subfossil bone remains, that had been found in several caves on the island of Cuba and on the Isla de la Juventud.  

The reasons for its extinction are exactly the same as for its larger relative. [1]  

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References:  

[1] A. van der Geer; G. Lyras; J. de Vos; M. Dermitzakis: Evolution of Island Mammals: Adaptation and Extinction of Placental Mammals on Islands. John Wiley & Sons 2010  

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Photo from: ‘G. M. Allen: Fossil Mammals from Cuba. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College 62: 131-148. 1918’  

(not in copyright)

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edited: 17.02.2020

Boromys offela Miller

Oriente Cave Rat (Boromys offela)  

This species was described in the year 1916 from subfossil bones that had been found on the island of Cuba and on the Isla de la Juventud.  

The Oriente Cave Rat seems to have survived long enough to see the arrival of the first Europeans on the American double continent, because its bones were found in deposits that also contained bones of rats, which again reached Cuba for the first time together with the European discoverers.  

These rats then again obviously played a big role in the extinction of this endemic rodent species. [1]  

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References:  

[1] A. van der Geer; G. Lyras; J. de Vos; M. Dermitzakis: Evolution of Island Mammals: Adaptation and Extinction of Placental Mammals on Islands. John Wiley & Sons 2010  

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Photo from: ‘G. M. Allen: Fossil Mammals from Cuba. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College 62: 131-148. 1918’  

(not in copyright)

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edited: 17.02.2020

Phyllops vetus Anthony

Lesser Cuban Fig-eating Bat (Phyllops vetus)

The Lesser Cuban Fig-eating Bat, also known as Lesser Falcate-winged Bat, was described in 1919 based on subfossil remains collected from a cave named Cueva de los Indios on the island of Cuba.

The species was somewhat similar to the still living Cuban Fig-eating Bat (Phyllops falcatus (Gray)) but was noticeably smaller. [1]

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Fossils that are assignable to this species were later also recovered from cave depostis on the Isla de la Juventud offshore the southern coast of Cuba.

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References:

[1] H. E. Anthony: Mammals collected in eastern Cuba in 1917: with descriptions of two new species. Bulletin of American Museum of Natural History 41: 625-643. 1919

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edited: 23.01.2020

Ara tricolor Bechstein

Cuban Macaw (Ara tricolor 

The Caribbean may once have been home for numerous parrot species, including several endemic macaw species, whose former existence, however, is still somewhat questionable; yet the Cuban Macaw is the only Caribbean macaw whose actual existence cannot be doubted.  

There are at least 19 museum specimens and some subfossil material to prove the former existence of this small macaw species. [1]  

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The Cuban Macaw was only about 50 cm long, it was mainly red, had a yellow neck and blue wings and a blue tipped tail.  

The bird inhabited the main island and the Isla de la Juventud offshore Cuba’s southwest coast, and it is in fact quite possible that this species also inhabited to islands of Hispaniola and Jamaica.  

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The Cuban Macaw was already restricted to the Zapata Peninsula and to the Isla de la Juventud, when it was discovered by European scientists.  

The last records date to the 1850s.  

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The bird was a host of several species of parasites, including the feather mite Distigmesikya extincta Pineda & Ortiz and the feather louse Psittacobrosus bechsteini Mey, which were obviously restricted to this single species and which are now extinct together with their only host. [1]  

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References:  

[1] James W. Wiley; Guy M. Kirwan: The extinct macaws of the West Indies, with special reference to Cuban Macaw Ara tricolor. Bulletin of the British Ornithologist’s Club 133(2): 125-156. 2013  

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Depiction from: ‘François Le Vaillant: Histoire naturelle des perroquets. Paris Levrault, Schoell & Cie, An IX-XII. 1801–1805’  

(under creative commons license (4.0)) 
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0

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edited: 24.03.2017