Tag Archives: Lord Howe Islands

Rhipidura cervina Ramsay

Lord Howe Fantail (Rhipidura cervina)

The Lord Howe Fantail, also known as Fawn-breasted Fantail, was endemic to Lord Howe Island; it is sometimes als treated as a subspecies of the New Zealand fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa (Sparrman)).

Nearly all of the endemic or native birds that formerly inhabited Lord Howe Island disappeared shortly after 1918, when the steamship ‘SS Makambo’ ran aground on Ned’s Beach in the northern part of the island and Black Rats (Rattus rattus (L.)) from the wreck came ashore.

The species was apparently last seen in 1924.

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Depiction from: ‘Gregory M. Mathews: The birds of Norfolk & Lord Howe Islands and the Australasian South Polar quadrant: with additions to “birds of Australia”. London: H. F. & G. Witherby 1928’

(public domain)

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edited: 30.10.2020

Melobasis empyria Olliff

Fiery Jewel Beetle (Melobasis empyria)

The Fiery Jewel Beetle was described in 1889; it was endemic to Lord Howe Island, Australia.

The species reached a length of 1,2 cm; it was “Coppery green, shining; prothorax bright coppery, purplish on the disc; scutellum fiery copper; elytra coppery, with purple refelxions, irregularly striate-punctate, the third and fourth interstices obviously raised.
Head nearly flat in front, coarsely and very densely punctured. Prothorax at the base more than one-third broader than long, considerably narrowed in front, rather strongly and sparingly punctured on the disc, the punctuation at the sides much stronger and denser, the anterior margin slightly produced in the middle, its angles produced and rounded; the sides rounded; the posterior margin nearly straight. Scutellum excessively finely punctured. Elytra about twice as long as broad, coppery, inclining to fiery near the suture and about the middle, rather strongly and irregularly striate-punctate; the sides straight and nearly parallel for about two-thirds of their length, then denticulate, and narrowed to the apex. Underside bright coppery green, the sterna strongly and not very closely punctured, the abdomen with the punctuation somewhat obsolete. legs coppery green, finely punctured, the tarsi darker.
” [1]

The species has not been collected since the 1880s and is very likely extinct now. [2]

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References:

[1] Sidney Olliff: The insect fauna of Lord Howe Island. The Australian Museum memoir 2: 75-98. 1889
[2] Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan Appendices, Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Sydney 2007

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edited: 26.04.2022

Somatidia pulchella Olliff

Beautiful Lord Howe Longhorn Beetle (Somatidia pulchella)

 

The Beautiful Lord Howe Longhorn Beetle was described in 1889; it was endemic to lord Howe Island, Australia.

The species reached a length of 1 cm; it was “Elongate, very convex, narrowed both in front and behind, bronze green, shining, tinged with purple, very sparingly clothed with erect testaceous setae; elytra strongly punctured near the base; antennae, tibiae, and tarsi pale reddish testaceous; femora fuscous. Head transverse, finely and sparingly pubescent, with a few punctures on the disc; the median line distinct. Antennae with the third joint rather longer than the first, the succeeding joints slightly decreasing in length. Prothorax longer than broad, less narrowed in front than behind, sub-cylindrical, rather strongly and closely punctured, the punctures less strong anteriorly, clothed with very fine pubescence and scattered setae. Scutellum triangular, very small. Elytra elongate-ovate, the punctuation strong and moderately dense near the base, gradually effaced posteriorly, clothed with very fine gray pubescence near the suture and at the sides, with four rows of long erect setae which emanate from punctures, and are separated by considerable intervals; each elytron with three longitudinal elevations on the basal half, of which the first only is conspicuous. Legs moderately long, finely pubescent; the femora thickened.” [1]

The species has not been collected since the 1910s and is now considered most likely extinct. [2]

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References:

[1] Sidney Olliff: The insect fauna of Lord Howe Island. The Australian Museum memoir 2: 75-98. 1889
[2] Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan Appendices, Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Sydney 2007

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Depiction from: ‘Sidney Olliff: The insect fauna of Lord Howe Island. The Australian Museum memoir 2: 75-98. 1889’

(public domain)

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edited: 26.04.2022

Elasmotena insulana Olliff

Lord Howe Island Longhorn Beetle (Elasmotena insulana)

 

The Lord Howe Island Longhorn Beetle was described in 1890; it was endemic to Lord Howe Island, Australia.

The species reached a length of about 2 cm; it was dark fuscous and was clothed with very fine decumbent griseous brown pubescence as well as sparingly with long erect hairs of the same color.

The Lord Howe Island Longhorn Beetle has not been collected since the 1880s and is now considered extinct. [1]

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References:

[1] Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan Appendices, Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Sydney 2007

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Depiction from: ‘Sydney Olliff: Additions to the insect-fauna of Lord Howe Island, and descriptions of two new Australian Coleoptera. Records of the Australian Museum 1: 72-76. 1890’

(not in copyright)

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edited: 26.04.2022

Howeotranes insularis (Pascoe)

Mt. Gower Weevil (Howeotranes insularis)

The Mt. Gower Weevil was described in 1874; it was originally thought to be endemic to the summit of Mt. Gower but did also occur on the low elevations of Lord Howe Island, Australia.

The species hasn’t been collected since the 1920s and is now considered extinct.

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References:

[1] Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan Appendices, Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Sydney 2007

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edited: 26.04.2022

Polyura sempronius ssp. tiberius (Waterhouse)

Lord Howe Island Tailed Emperor (Polyura sempronius ssp. tiberius)

The Lord Howe Island Tailed Emperor was described in 1920, it is endemic to Lord Howe Island, Australia.

The biology of this form is not well known, it was apparently last recorded in 1969, it is supposed to be extinct, but might in fact still exist.

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edited: 08.05.2021

Xylotoles wollastoni (White)

Wollaston’s Lord Howe Longhorn Beetle (Xylotoles wollastoni)

Wollaston’s Lord Howe Longhorn Beetle is endemic to Lord Howe Island; it was described in 1856, was apparently only seen one time after 1916 and might now be extinct.

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Depiction from: ‘A. White: Descriptions of some coleopterous insects in the Collection of the British Museum, hitherto apparently unnoticed. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 24. 8-17. 1856’

(public domain)

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edited: 27.04.2021

Lacordairia fugax (Olliff)

Swift Lord Howe Ground Beetle (Lacordairia fugax)

The Swift Lord Howe Ground Beetle was described in 1889; it was endemic to Lord Howe Island, Australia.

The species reached a length of about 1,3 cm; it was “Elongate-ovate, dark piceous, shining, sometimes with a bluish tinge; elytra strongly striate, the interstices rather narrow, plain; antennae (except the basal joint) and palpi reddish testaceous; legs rufo-piceous.
Head narrow; eyes rather prominent. Antennae more than two-thirds the length of the body, the basal joint piceous. Prothorax narrowed behind, with a distinct median line; the sides rounded in front; posterior angles rounded: Elytra oblong-ovate, very slightly contracted before the middle, strongly and regularly striate, the interstices narrow and smooth, the second stria, on each side, with an obscure puncture before the middle; sides slightly sinuate before the apex. Legs rather long.
” [1]

The Swift Lord Howe Ground Beetle was last recorded before 1900 and is now considered extinct. [2]

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References:

[1] Sidney Olliff: The insect fauna of Lord Howe Island. The Australian Museum memoir 2: 75-98. 1889
[2] Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan Appendices, Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Sydney 2007

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edited: 26.04.2022

Hesperus gigas (Lea)

Giant Lord Howe Island Roof Beetle (Hesperus gigas)

The Giant Lord Howe Island Roof Beetle was described in 1929 based on specimens that had been collected from the summit of Mt. Lidgbird on Lord Howe Island, Australia.

The species was flightless, it reached a size of about 1,7 cm, making it a true giant compared to most other species of its family.

The Giant Lord Howe Island Roof Beetle has never been found again since its description, and it is quite clear that this big insect fell victim to introduced mice and rats, it is now extinct. [1][2]

***

Lord Howe Island still harbors two very large members of the same genus: Hesperus dolichoderes (Lea) and Hesperus pacificus Olliff. [2]

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References:

[1] Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan Appendices, Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Sydney 2007
[2] Arn Rytter Jensen; Josh Jenkins Shaw; Dagmara Żyła; Alexey Solodovnikov: A total-evidence approach resolves phylogenetic placement of ‘Cafius’ gigas, a unique recently extinct rove beetle from Lord Howe Island. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 190(4): 1159-1174. 2020

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edited: 26.04.2022

Leptopius etheridgei (Olliff)

Etheridge’s Leptopius Weevil (Leptopius etheridgei)

 

Etheridge’s Leptopius Weevil was described in 1889; it was restricted to Lord Howe Island, Australia.

the species reached a length of about 1,2 cm; it was “Elongate ovate, piceous, densely covered with griseous scales; rostrum long, depressed in the middle; prothorax rugulose, narrowed in front; elytra ample, seriate-punctate, obtusely bi-tuberculate posteriorly.
Head thickly covered with scales, those near the sides inclining to ochraceous; rostrum about as long as the prothorax. Eyes narrow, vertical. Antennae rather long, the scape closely scaled, funiculus finely pubescent. Prothorax decidedly broader than long, moderately strongly rugulose, the scales inclining to ochraceous at the sides, an obscure median carina which is effaced anteriorly. Scutellum distinct, pointed behind. Elytra about two and a half times as long as the prothorax, somewhat flattened above, moderately strongly seriate-punctate, the punctures widely separated and somewhat irregular, the interstices broad and slightly raised, the third interstice slightly and the sixth rather strongly elevated posteriorly, giving the elytra a bi-tuberculate appearance. Underside and legs moderately closely scaled and finely pubescent.
” [1]

The species has not been collected since the 1910s and is now considered extinct. [2]

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References:

[1] Sidney Olliff: The insect fauna of Lord Howe Island. The Australian Museum memoir 2: 75-98. 1889
[2] Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan Appendices, Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Sydney 2007

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Depiction from: ‘Sidney Olliff: The insect fauna of Lord Howe Island. The Australian Museum memoir 2: 75-98. 1889’

(public domain)

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edited: 26.04.2022

Columba vitiensis ssp. godmanae (Mathews)

Lord Howe White-throated Pigeon (Columba vitiensis ssp. godmanae)

Described in 1915, this species is still exclusively known by some contemporaneous accounts and depictions made in the early 1800s.

This beautiful bird was restricted to Lord Howe island and was one of the first bird forms from that island to go extinct; it was actually hunted (and eaten) to extinction already by the first few European settlers on the island.

The Lord Howe White-throated Pigeon is now usually considered a subspecies of the White-throated Pigeon (Columba vitiensis Qouy & Gaimard) which is distributed from the Philippines to eastern Indonesia, parts of Melanesia to westernmost Polynesia; however, the species is a candidate for splitting, and some forms should rather be regarded as distinct species, including the extinct one from Lord Howe Island.

The pigeons were last recorded in 1853.

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Depiction from an album of watercolor drawings of Australian natural history owned by a man named Robert Anderson Seton; ca. 1800

(public domain)

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edited: 19.08.2022

Ninox novaeseelandiae ssp. albaria (Ramsay)

Lord Howe Island Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae ssp. albaria)

 

The Lord Howe Island Boobook was endemic to Lord Howe Island, where it inhabited the dense rainforests.

It was larger than the nominate form from New Zealand, and should probably rather be considered a distinct species.

Like so many other bird species from Lord Howe Island, also this owl species was severely affected by the grounding of the steamship ‘SS Makambo’ in 1918 which led to a literal flooding of the island by ship rats which killed many of the birds but especially destroyed their nests and eggs; additionally at least two Australian owl species, Australian Boobooks (Ninox boobook (Latham)) and Australian Masked Owls (Tyto novaehollandiae (Stephens)), were imported to Lord Howe Island in the 1920s to get rid of the rat plague, these owl species may also have taken their toll on the endemic form.

The Lord Howe Boobook might have survived into the 1950s when boobook calls were heard; these calls however, may also have come from the Australian Booboock, which apparently has since also vanished from the island.

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Depiction from: ‘Gregory M. Mathews: The Birds of Norfolk & Lord Howe Islands and the Australian south polar quadrant with additions to “The Birds of Australia”. London: H. F. & G. Witherby 1928’

(public domain)

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edited: 05.11.2021

Porphyrio albus (White)

Lord Howe Swamphen (Porphyrio albus)

The Lord Howe Swamphen was described in 1790, it was endemic to Lord Howe Island, Australia.

The species was larger than the Australian Swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus (Temminck)), which inhabits Lord Howe Island today, it was furthermore adapted to a terrestrial lifestyle, had shorter toes, was completely flightless – and, the most conspicuous character, was for a long time thought to have had a completely white plumage.

This last assumption is now known to be untrue, the birds started their lifes as black-plimaged chicks, then turned into semiadult, blue-colored birds (the birds were completely blue, darker on the upperside than on the underside, with a rather darkish, almost black head), then later turning into complete white when growing older. 

This also explains the contemporary accounts who report of blue-, blue and white- as well as completely white birds to be found on Lord Howe Island. [1]

***

The Lord Howe Swamphen disappeared shortly after its discovery, most likely due to direkt hunting by sailors of whaling ships and other ships during stays on the island for the purpose of filling up their ship’s proviant.

Today only two specimens of this beautiful and interesting species exist, one, which is kept in Vienna, Austria, is a fully adult bird and even has claws on the edges of its wings. [1]

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References:

[1] Heinvan Grouw; Julian P. Hume: The history and morphology of Lord Howe Gallinule or Swamphen Porphyrio albus (Rallidae). Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 136(3): 172-198. 2016

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Depiction from: ‘Lionel Walter Rothschild: Extinct birds: an attempt to unite in one volume a short account of those birds which have become extinct in historical times: that is, within the last six or seven hundred years: to which are added a few which still exist, but are on the verge of extinction. London: Hutchinson & Co. 1907’

(public domain)

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edited: 18.05.2019

Hybomorphus melanosomus Saunders & Jekel

Lord Howe Ground Weevil (Hybomorphus melanosomus)

The Lord Howe Ground Weevil was described in 1855, it was a large, flightless species endemic to Lord Howe Island, Australia.

The species appears to have disappeared very quickly after its discovery and description, as can be taken from an account by A. S. Olliff from 1889.:

A remarkable endemic form. A large number of fragments and dead remains of this species were found by Mr. Masters under logs and in rotten wood during his visit to the island in June, 1869. As far as I am aware, this is the last occasion on which the insect has been found, none of the collectors who have recently visited the island having obtained it.” [1]

The species was apparently eradicated by introduced house mice.

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References:

[1] A. S. Olliff: The insect fauna of Lord Howe Island. The Australian Museum Memoir 2: 75-98. 1889
[2] Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Lord Howe Island Biodiversity Management Plan Appendices, Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW), Sydney 2007

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Depiction from: ‘W. W. Saunders; H. Jekel: Descriptions de quelques Curculionites. Annales de la Société entomologique de France (3)3: 19-306. 1855’

(public domain)

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edited: 26.04.2022

Cyanoramphus subflavescens Salvadori

Lord Howe Island Parakeet (Cyanoramphus subflavescens)

This species was once endemic to the island of Lord Howe in the Tasman Sea off southeastern Australia, the species was repeatedly classified as a subspecies of either the Norfolk Island – (Cyanoramphus cookii (Gray)) or the New Zealand Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae (Sparrman)) but is now finally considered a distinct species.

The bird reached a length of about 27 cm and was otherwise quite similar to the two abovementioned, closely related species.

The human settlers on the island didn’t like the parakeet, they considered them to be a pest to their crops and gardens and thus heavily hunted the parakeets … until the species went finally extinct.

The last two birds, apparently a breeding pair, were seen in 1869.

***

The depiction below shows a pair of this species with the male bird in front – these are the only two specimens of the species known to exist at all!

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Depiction from: Catalogue of the birds in the British Museum. London 20. 1891

(public domain)

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edited: 27.11.2018