Tag Archives: Long Island

Gallinago kakuki Steadman & Takano

West Indian Snipe (Gallinago kakuki)

The West Indian Snipe was described in 2016, its fossil or subfossil remains were recovered from late Quaternary depostits on several islands including the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The West Indian Snipe was a volant species, but probably had quite short wings, this can be assumed from the shape of its wingbones. [1]

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The species probably died out for more or less natural reasons, following changing environmental conditions due to changes in the height of the sea level after the beginning of the Holocene. The last remaining populations were then probably extirpated by the first Amerindian settlers.
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References:

[1] David W. Steadman; Oona M. Takano: A new extinct species of Snipe (Aves: Scolopacidae: Gallinago) from the West Indies. Zootaxa 4109(3): 345-358. 2016

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edited: 26.01.2019

Geocapromys ingrahami ssp. irrectus Lawrence

Crooked Island Hutia (Geocapromys ingrahami ssp. irrectus)

The Bahaman Hutia (Geocapromys ingrahami (J. A. Allen)) is a species of middle-sized rodent that is endemic to the Bahamas, or at least to the islands that are part of the so-called Great Bahama Bank.

The species was believed to be extinct, but a very small population was rediscovered in 1966 on a likewise very small island named East Plana Cay, this was assigned to the nominate form and in 1973, some of these animals were released on two additional islands, Little Wax Cay and Warderick Wells. 

Based on DNA studies it is now known that the animals on East Plana Cay in fact did not constitute the last surviving wild population but one that was introduced in pre-Columbian times by the people of the Lucayan culture, the first human inhabitants of the Bahamas. [2]

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Subfossil remains of this species were found on many of the larger islands, including Abaco as well as Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Exuma and Long Island; these forms differed from the alleged nominate form by their cranial characters and thus were described as two distinct subspecies: Geocapromys ingrahami ssp. abacoensis Lawrence (from Abaco Island) and Geocapromys ingrahami ssp. irrectus (from the remaining islands); the form from Abaco Island, however, is now known to have also just been introduced in prehistoric times, thus has never been a distinct subspecies. [1]

The animals that inhabited Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Exuma and Long Island on the other hand, appear to be non-monophyletic, thus likewise do not represent a distinct subspecies but either more than one or none at all. 

The above-mentioned differences in the cranial characters may in fact just be the consequence of resource availability – animals on larger islands may have become larger because they had access to larger resources …. [2]

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The Bahamian Hutia, once believed to be extinct, then rediscovered in 1966, may never had have any subspecies after all. This question is not yet answered – I will mention this species here only fro the sake of completness and because it constitutes a very interesting case.

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References:

[1] B. N. Lawrence: Geocapromys from the Bahamas. Occasional papers of the Boston Society of Natural History 8: 189-196. 1934
[2] Jessica A. Oswald; Julie M. Allen; Michelle J. LeFebvre; Brian J. Stucky; Ryan A. Folk; Nancy A. Albury; Gary S. Morgan; Robert P. Guralnick; David W. Steadman: Ancient DNA and high-resolution chronometry reveal a long-term human role in the historical diversity and biogeography of the Bahamian hutia. Scientific Reports 10: 1373. 2020

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Depiction from: ‘Mark Catesby; George Edwards: The natural history of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands : containing the figures of birds, beasts, fishes, serpents, insects, and plants : particularly, those not hitherto described, or incorrectly figured by former authors, with their descriptions in English and French : to which is prefixed, a new and correct map of the countries, with observations on their natural state, inhabitants, and productions. London: printed for B. White 1771’

(public domain)

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edited: 04.11.2020