Tag Archives: Mascarene Islands

Antanartia borbonica ssp. mauritiana Manders

Borbon Admiral (Antanartia borbonica ssp. mauritiana)

The Bourbon Admiral is an endemic of the Mascarene Islands (and does not live in Madagascar, contrary to statements to the contrary in older literature). 

Two subspecies are recognized, the nominate form lives on the island of Réunion, while the island of Mauritius previously harbored an endemic form that differed from the nominate form by its smaller size. 

According to N. Manders, who described the taxon of the island of Mauritius in 1908, the caterpillars feed on the leaves of the Nettle-leaved Pilea (Pilea urticifolia Blume). 

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The extinction date is not known, but the Mauritian subspecies was apparently last recorded in 1938. 

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Depiction from: ‘N. Manders: The Butterflies of Mauritius and Bourbon. Transactions of the Entomological Society of London. 429-454. 1907’

(public domain)

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References: 

[1] P. M. H. Davis; M. J. C. Barnes: The Butterflies of Mauritius. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 30(3-4): 145-161. 1991

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edited: 09.01.2012

Nactus sp. ‘Rodrigues’

Giant Rodrigues Night Gecko (Nactus sp.)

This is one of two species of the genus that formerly inhabited the island of Rodrigues in the Mascarene Islands.

The species disappeared shortly after the arrival of the first human settlers in the early 16th century. [1]

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References:

[1] Anthony Cheke; Julian P. Hume: Lost Land of the Dodo: The ecological history of Mauritius, Réunion, and Rodrigues. Yale University Press 2008

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edited: 04.05.2022

Megalomma sp. ‘Rodrigues 1’

Rodrigues Tiger Beetle (Megalomma sp.)

This species is known from subfossil material (at least one prothorax), which shows that the species apparently was shiny coppery-colored in life.

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The genus Megalomma contains at least six recent species, all endemic to the Mascarene Islands.

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The photo below shows a closely related species from the nearby island of Mauritius, the Shining Megalomma Tiger Beetle (Megalomma fulgens (W. Horn))

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Shining Megalomma Tiger Beetle (Megalomma fulgens)

Photo: CORDENOS Thierry
https://www.inaturalist.org/people/thierrycordenos
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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edited: 06.02.2024

Nesoenas rodericanus (Milne-Edwards)

Rodrigues Turtle Dove (Nesoenas rodericanus)

The Rodrigues Turtle Dove was described in 1874, when it was already extinct; it is known from subfossil remains and from contemporaneous accounts.

The species disappeared sometimes between 1726 and 1761.

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References:

[1] Julian P. Hume: Extinct Birds: Bloomsbury Natural History; 2nd edition 2017

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edited: 07.05.2022

Dupontia proletaria Morelet

(Dupontia proletaria)

This species was described in 1860; it was restricted to the island of Mauritius and is now extinct.

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References:  

[1] Robert H. Cowie; Claire Régnier; Benoît Fontaine; Philippe Bouchet. Measuring the Sixth Extinction: what do mollusks tell us? The Nautilus 131(1): 3-41. 2017

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edited: 29.01.2024

Scarabaeoidea gen. & sp. ‘Rodrigues’

Rodrigues Dung Beetle(s) (Scarabaeoidea gen. & sp.)

At least 12 (!) genera/species of dung beetles are known from subfossil remains found on the island of Rodrigues.

These dung beetles were just a little part of a now mostly completely lost insect fauna that once occurred on that island, they very likely were adapted to the numerous tortoises that formerly roamed the island.

The dung beetles disappeared after the extinction of the two endemic tortoise species they had been attached to in the 19th century.

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I want to remind you, the blog readers, that these 12 genera/species are known from the island of Rodrigues alone, how many species did occur on the other Mascarene Islands – we will probably never know.

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edited: 31.10.2020

Cylindraspis peltastes (Dumeril & Bibron)

Domed Rodrigues Giant Tortoise (Cylindraspis peltastes)

The Domed Rodrigues Giant Tortoise was one of two tortoise species that formerly were endemic to the island of Rodrigues in the Mascarene Islands.

The species disappeared after the island was settled by Europeans in the 16th century, the last individuals survived apparently until the very beginning of the 19th century.

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edited: 19.01.2020

Cylindraspis vosmaeri (Suckow)

Saddle-backed Rodrigues Giant Tortoise (Cylindraspis vosmaeri)

The Saddle-backed Rodrigues Giant Tortoise was endemic to the island of Rodrigues, Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean.

The species was heavily hunted by the European settlers in the 16th century for its meat and was finally wiped out at the end of the 18th century.

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Depiction from: Joannis Davidis Schoepff: Historia testudinum iconibus illustrata. Erlangae: J. J. Palm 1792-1801

(not in copyright)

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edited: 19.01.2020

Perrottetia piriformis (Pfeiffer)

Pear-shaped Perrottetia Snail (Perrottetia piriformis)

This species was described in 1859; it was endemic to the island of Rodrigues in the Mascarenes, however, its taxonomic status is not resolved.:

Taxonomic issues arose concerning two species when they were submitted to experts, although they had never been reported as nonvalid species in the scientific literature; because their taxonomic status is unclear (the biological species designated by their names are unknown), they were classified as impossible to assess. However, due to this taxonomic uncertainty, no data are available apart from their original 19th-century descriptions, and the model evaluates them as extinct. These taxa are Coilostele acus and Perrottetia piriformis.” [1]

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The genus should not be confused with the plant genus of the same name.

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References:

[1] Claire Régnier; Guillaume Achaz; Amaury Lambert; Robert H. Cowie; Philippe Bouchet; Benoît Fontaine: Mass extinction in poorly known taxa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 1-6. 2015

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edited: 09.11.2021

Danais corymbosa Balf. f.

Corymbose Danais (Danais corymbosa)

This species was described in 1879, it is endemic to the island of Rodrigues in the Mascarene Islands.

This species is not common on the island and only occurs in the higher districts.

The Rodrigues plant is not unlike some of the forms of D. fragrans, Comm., but differs conspicuously in the form and long petiolation of its leaves and its longer paniculate inflorescence, the rachis exceeding considerably the petiole.
” [1]

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References:

[1] An Account of the Petrological, Botanical, and Zoological Collection Made in Kerguelen’s Land and Rodriguez during the Transit of Venus Expeditions. Botany. 302-419. 1874-75

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edited: 15.05.2021

Tropidophora vincentflorensi Griffiths

Vincent Florens’ Tropidophora Snail (Tropidophora vincentflorensi)  

Vincent Florens’ Tropidophora Snail was described in 2000; it is known from at least five adult and subadult specimens that were recovered from debris under a basaltic rock overhang in the degraded forest south of the easternmost peak of Trois Mamelles Mountain on the island of Mauritius.

The species is so far only known from the type locality and was never seen alive, it is clearly extinct. [1]

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References:

[1] Owen Lee Griffiths: Nine new species of Mascarene land snail (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Molluscan Research 20(2): 37-50. 2000

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edited: 29.04.2021

Carabidae gen. & sp. ‘Rodrigues’

Rodrigues Ground Beetle(s) (Carabidae gen. & sp.)

The subfossil record of the island of Rodrigues, Mascarene Islands held about two or three genera of now extinct platyine carabid beetles.

These species were members of a now completely extinct and still almost unknown insect fauna that disappeared shortly after the islands were settled by European settlers and their livestock.

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edited: 31.10.2020

Dryolimnas augusti Mourer-Chauviré, Bour, Ribes & Moutou

Reunion Wood Rail (Dryolimnas augusti)

This species, also known as Dubois’ Wood Rail, is known from subfossil remains that were recovered from deposits in the Caverne de la Tortue, a ccave on the island of Réunion.

There is, however, one contemporary report of a “Râle des Bois“, a wood-rail, that was made in 1674 by Sieur Dubois, a French traveler, that might possibly refer to this species.

The Reunion Rail must have gone extinct shortly after that date.

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References:

[1] Anthony Cheke; Julian P. Hume: Lost Land of the Dodo: The ecological history of Mauritius, Réunion, and Rodrigues. Yale University Press 2008

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edited: 03.01.2024

Dryolimnas chekei Hume

Cheke’s Wood Rail Rail (Dryolimnas chekei)

This species was only described in 2019 from subfossil remains that were known for some time but had been misinterpreted as belonging to the White-throated Rail (Dryolimnas cuvieri (Pucheran)) from Madagascar, which apparently is a rare vagrant to Mauritius.

No contemporary reports of this species are known. 

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References:

[1] Julian Pender Hume: Systematics, morphology and ecology of rails (Aves: Rallidae) of the Mascarene Islands, with one new species. Zootaxa 4626(1): 1-107. 2019

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edited: 03.01.2023

Oryctes minor Waterhouse

Small Rodrigues Rhinoceros Beetle (Oryctes minor)

The Small Rodrigues Rhinoceros Beetle was described in 1876, it is only known from the type specimen, a female (or from two specimens, according to other sources).

The species reached a length of 2,5 cm; “The elytra are covered with rather large horseshoe punctures, among which may be traced the usual two pairs of punctured lines; the surface between the large punctures has small punctures scattered here and there.” [1]

The species is now considered extinct.

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References:

[1] Charles O Waterhouse: New species of coleoptera from the island of Rodriguez, collected by the naturalists accompanying the Transit-of-Venus Expedition. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History, Zoology, Botany, and Geology 4(18): 105-121. 1876

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Photo from: ‘Sergio M. Latorre; Matthias Herrmann; M. J. Paulsen; Christian Rödelsperger; Andreea Dréau; Waltraud Röseler; Ralf J. Sommer; Hernán A. Burbano: Museum phylogenomics of extinct Oryctes beetles from the Mascarene Islands. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 2020’

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

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edited: 29.04.2022

Otus grucheti (Mourer-Chauviré, Bour, Moutou & Ribes)

Reunion Scops Owl (Otus grucheti)

The Reunion Scops Owl was restricted to the island of Réunion in the Mascarene Islands; it was described in 1994 and is known exclusively from subfossil remains.

The species has not been mentioned in any of the many contemporary reports; thus it is believed that it died out very shortly after the arrival of the first human settlers on the island.

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edited: 02.05.2022

Lantzia carinata Jousseaume

Keeled Lantzia Snail (Lantzia carinata)

The Keeled Lantzia Snail was described in 1872; it is (or probably was) restricted to a single locality on the island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

The species inhabited wet moss that grew along a waterfall in the interior of the island at an elevation of 1200 to 1300 m above sea level.

The Keeled Lantzia Snail was thought to have gone extinct sometimes during the early 19th century but was rediscovered in 199; however, it seems to have disappeared again and is now most likely indeed extinct.

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Depiction from: ‘F. P. Jousseaume: Description de quatre mollusques nouveaux. Revue et magasin de zoologie pure et appliquée, series 2(23): 5-15. 1872’

(public domain)

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edited: 21.08.2022

Ptinidae gen. & sp. ‘Rodrigues’

Rodrigues Ptinidid Beetle (Ptinidae gen. & sp.)

This species is known from several subfossil specimens, including at least three elytra, which because of their toast-shaped punctures were nicknamed as ‘bread’ by Nick Porch, an Australian entomologist who is a specialist for subfossil insect remains.

The elytra are glossy black and, in some cases, bear corn-colored filaments in the frontal and the distal parts as well as on their margins, when alive, the beetle might have been completely covered by them ….

The species is very likely extinct. 

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edited: 30.10.2020

Malagarion borbonica (Morelet)

Reunion Ariophantid Snail (Malagarion borbonica)

This species was described in 1860, it was endemic to the island of Réunion and is now considered extinct.

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Photo: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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edited: 28.04.2021

Leiolopisma mauritiana (Günther)

Mauritian Giant Skink (Leiolopisma mauritiana)

The Mauritian Giant Skink was described in 1877; it is, however, only known from subfossil remains.

The species was one of the largest skinks in the world, it might have reached a size of over 60 cm.

The Mauritian Giant Skink was never mentioned in any of the many contemporaneous traveler’s accounts about the island’s fauna and flora that have survived to this day. [1]

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References:

[1] Anthony Cheke; Julian P. Hume: Lost Land of the Dodo: The ecological history of Mauritius, Réunion, and Redrigues. Yale University Press 2008

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edited: 04.05.2022

Hypoestes inconspicua Balf. f.

Inconspicuous Hypoestes (Hypoestes inconspicua)  

The Inconspicuous Hypoestes was described in 1877, it was endemic to the island of Rodrigues, Mascarene Islands.

The plant had a trailing habit with very small, indeed inconspicuous leaves.

The Inconspicuous Hypoestes is now considered extinct.

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edited: 03.11.2020

Nactus sp. ‘Rodrigues’

Small Rodrigues Night Gecko (Nactus sp.)

The Small Rodrigues Night Gecko is one of two species of its genus that were endemic to the island of Rodrigues in the Mascarene Islands.

The species is known exclusively from subfossil remains and has not yet been described. [1]

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References:

[1] Anthony Cheke; Julian P. Hume: Lost Land of the Dodo: The ecological history of Mauritius, Réunion, and Redrigues. Yale University Press 2008

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edited: 04.05.2022

Leiolopisma ceciliae Arnold & Bour

Arnold’s Skink (Leiolopisma ceciliae)

 

Arnold’s Skink was described in 2008 based on subfossil remains that had been recovered from deposits of the Grotte au Sable in Saint-Paul, the second-largest commune of Réunion.

The species was closely related to Telfair-Skink (Leiolopisma telfairii (Desjardins)) (see photo below) from Mauritius, but was even larger; in life, this species must have had a size of over 40 cm (including the tail).

In contrast to many other animals that formerly inhabited the Mascarene islands, no written accounts exist that could be assigned to this species. [1]

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References:

[1] E. Nicholas Arnold; Roger Bour: A new Nactus gecko (Gekkonidae) and a new Leiolopisma skin (Scincidae) from La Réunion, Indian Ocean, based on recent fossil remains and ancient DNA sequence. Zootaxa 1705: 40-50. 2008
[2] Anthony Cheke; Julian P. Hume: Lost Land of the Dodo: The ecological history of Mauritius, Réunion, and Redrigues. Yale University Press 2008

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Telfair Skink (Leiolopisma telfairii); Photo: Wouter Van Landuyt (public domain)

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edited: 04.05.2022

Nesoenas cicur Hume

Mauritius Turtle Dove (Nesoenas cicur)

The Mauritius Turtle Dove was described based on subfossil bones that were recovered from deposits on the island of Mauritius, where it lived sympatrically with the Mauritius Pink Pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri (Prevost)).

This species had rather robust legs and small wings and had a rather terrestrial lifestyle. [1]

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References:

[1] Julian P. Hume: Extinct Birds: Bloomsbury Natural History; 2nd edition 2017

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edited: 07.05.2022

Nesoenas duboisi Rothschild

Reunion Pink Pigeon (Nesoenas duboisi)

This species was described in 1907, it is known from at least one contemporaneous account and from subfossil bones.

The species was somewhat similar to the Mauritius Pink Pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri (Prevost)) (see photo below) that is still found on the island of Mauritius.

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References:

[1] Julian P. Hume: Extinct Birds: Bloomsbury Natural History; 2nd edition 2017

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Mauritius Pink Pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri)

Photo: Dick Daniels

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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edited: 07.05.2022

Cylindraspis inepta (Günther)

Saddle-backed Mauritius Giant Tortoise (Cylindraspis inepta)

The Saddle-backed Mauritius Giant Tortoise, as its name implies, was endemic to the island of Mauritius (including several of the smaller offshore islets), Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean.

The species had a saddle-shaped carapace, a somewhat upright stand and was adapted for brousing higher vegetation.

When the Mascarene Islands were settled by Europenas in the 16th century, thousands of the endemic tortoise species were slaughtered for their meat and imported feral animals like cats, pigs and rats fed on the tortoises eggs and hatchlings.

The Saddle-backed Mauritius Giant Tortoise was extinct on Mauritius by the beginning of the 18th century, but a small population survived on the offshore Round Island for some additional decades. This last population, however, was doomed, its small island refuge was overrun by introduced goats and rabbits which finally destroyed the whole vegetation, leaving the tortoises starving to dead at around 1845. 

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edited: 19.01.2020

Gongylomorphus borbonicus Vinson & Vinson

Reunion Slit-eyed Skink (Gongylomorphus borbonicus)

The Reunion Slit-eyed Skink was endemic to La Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

The species was last collected in 1839, its extinction is attributed to the Wolf Snake (Lycodon capucinus F. Boie), a small, mildly venomous snake from South Asia specialized in hunting small reptiles, that was accidently introduced to the Mascarene Islands in the middle of the 19th century. [1]

The Reunion Slit-eyed Skink’s next living relative is Bojer’s Skink (Gongylomorphus bojerii (Desjardins)) (see photo below), which is restricted to the island of Mauritius.

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References:

[1] Anthony Cheke; Julian P. Hume: Lost Land of the Dodo: The ecological history of Mauritius, Réunion, and Redrigues. Yale University Press 2008

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Bojer’s Skink (Gongylomorphus bojerii)

Photo: Ben Dymond
https://www.inaturalist.org/people/gagnebina

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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edited: 04.05.2022

Astiria rosea Lindl.

Rose-colored Astiria (Astiria rosea)

The Rose-colored Astiria was described in 1844, it was endemic to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

The species had broad heart-shaped leaves and clusters of beautifully light pink-colored flowers.

This plant is now extinct.

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Depiction from: ‘Edward’s botanical register 30. 1844’

(public domain)

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edited: 14.11.2021

Tropidophora desmazuresi (Crosse)

Desmazures’ Tropidophora Snail (Tropidophora desmazuresi)  

Desmazures’ Tropidophora Snail was described in 1873; it was apparently restricted to the forested slopes of Mt. Limon, the highest peak of Rodrigues.

This species was also for some time considered to be a variety of the Beautiful Tropidophora Snail (Tropidophora pulchra (Gray)), which, however, is endemic to the Seychelles. [1]

The species is now considered extinct.

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References:

[1] Louis Germain: Faune malacologique terrestre et fluviatile des Iles Mascareignes. Paris 1921

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edited: 29.04.2021

Bolyeria multocarinata (Boie)

Round Island Burrowing Boa (Bolyeria multocarinata)

The Round Island Burrowing Boa was described in 1827; it was endemic to Mauritius and was also found on some of the small offshore islets.

The species reached lengths of 1 to about 1.4 m; it was light brown colored and had darker spots dorsally; its snout was pointed, an adaption to its fossorial (burrowing) lifestyle.

The Round Island Burrowing Boa was eradicated from most of its former range by introduced predatory animals and survived only on Round Island, where it was last seen in 1974.

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There is a single account that is describing a snake from Mauritius, it was made by Joseph-François Charpentier de Cossigny in 1764 and was translated by Anthony Cheke in 1987.:

I should say also that there are snakes, quite long and big, marked with brown and green, on the islets marked on my map. I have seen several shot on the Gunner’s Quoin. There were also some on the islet by the Grand Port pass. The workman working at the battery killed several.” [1][2]

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Depiction from: ‘Allard Pierson: Iconographia Zoologica: een papieren dierenrijk, Universiteit van Amsterdam 1788-1863’

(public domain)

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References:

[1] A. S. Cheke; Anthony William Diamond: An ecological history of the Mascarene Islands, with particular reference to extinctions and introductions of land vertebrates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1987
[2] Anthony Cheke; Julian P. Hume: Lost Land of the Dodo: The ecological history of Mauritius, Réunion, and Rodrigues. Yale University Press 2008

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edited: 01.03.2024

Cylindraspis triserrata (Günther)

Domed Mauritius Giant Tortoise (Cylindraspis triserrata)

The Domed Mauritius Giant Tortoise was endemic to the island of Mauritius (including several of the small offshore islets), Mascarene Islands.

The species had a dome-shaped carapace and appears to have been adapted for grazing lower vegetation.

The Domed Mauritius Giant Tortoise disappeared from Mauritius around 1700, with some populations surviving on the surrounding islets for several decades. 

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edited: 19.01.2020

Danais sulcata Pers.

Furrowed Danais (Danais sulcata)

This species was described in 1805, it is endemic to the island of Mauritius in the Mascarene Islands.

The species’ name appears in lists of extinct species and thus will also be mentioned here, unfortunately I did not find any further information about it.

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edited: 15.05.2021

Gulella argoudi Griffiths

Argoud’s Gulella Snail (Gulella argoudi)

Argoud’s Gulella Snail was described in 2000, it is known only from subfossil remains recovered from a depth of about 10 cm in dry soil under basaltic rocks on the edge of a ravine near La Saline Les Bains on the island of Réunion, Mascarene Islands.

The shells reached sizes of about 0,37 cm in heigth. [1]

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The species is most likely extinct, however, the author while describing it, mentions the following.:

Although described from subfossil specimens, the presence of a Gulella shell fragment (possibly belonging to this species) collected in leaflitter at Cap Noire, Dos-d’Ane Réunion, at 1300m, in 1992, suggests thius species may still survive.” [1]

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References:

[1] Owen Lee Griffiths: Nine new species of Mascarene land snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Molluscan Research 20(2): 37-50. 2000

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edited: 06.05.2019

Alexandrinus eques ssp. eques (Boddaert)

Reunion Echo Parakeet (Alexandrinus eques ssp. eques 

The Echo Parakeet (Alexandrinus eques ssp. echo (Newton & Newton)), endemic to the island of Mauritius, was once already extinct, but a breeding program saved the species at the last minute, it is now the sole surviving form of the formerly large Mascarene parrot radiation.  

This parakeet was originally described as a distinct species, but is now considered to represent a subspecies of a species that inhabited the neighboring island of Réunion.  

This form, the Reunion Echo Parakeet or Reunion Ring-necked Parakeet was described in 1783, it is now, however, only known from contemporary depictions and probably a single stuffed specimen that lacks its tail feathers.  

The Reunion Echo Parakeet obviously disappeared shortly after the occupation of the island by European settlers at the beginning of the 18th century.  

***

The two island forms are almost indistinguishable and may in fact not be separable from each other.  

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References:

[1] M. P. Braun; N. Bahr; M. Wink: Phylogenie und Taxonomie der Edelsittiche (Psittaciformes: Psittaculidae: Psittacula), mit Beschreibung von drei neuen Gattungen. Vogelwarte 54: 322-324. 2016

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Depiction from: ‘François-Nicolas Martinet; Georges Louis Leclerc Buffon; Edme-Louis Daubenton; Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton: Planches enluminées d’histoire naturelle. Paris: s.n. 1765-1783’

(public domain)  

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edited: 21.03.2018

Gonospira majusculus (Morelet)

Greater Gonospira Snail (Gonospira majusculus 

The Greater Gonospira Snail from the island of Mauritius is known exclusively from subfossil shells.  

***

The name is probably a synonym for some other species, since I was not able to get any information about this species so far.  

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Photo from: ‘Louis Germain: Faune malacologique terrestre et fluviatile des Iles Mascareigne. Paris 1921’  

(public domain)  

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edited: 21.03.2018

Nactus soniae Arnold & Bour

Reunion Night Gecko (Nactus soniae)

The Reunion Night Gecko was described in 2008 based on subfossil remains that were recovered from deposits of the Grotte au Sable in Saint-Paul, the second-largest commune of Réunion.

In life, the species might have reached a size of around 9 cm (including the tail); it was nocturnal and very likely rather inconspicuously colored. [1]

The Reunion Night Gecko was among the first species that died out shortly after the Mascarene Islands were discovered by European seafarers in the early 16th century, who also introduced rats to the islands, which then ate their way through the island faunas. [2]

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References:

[1] E. Nicholas Arnold; Roger Bour: A new Nactus gecko (Gekkonidae) and a new Leiolopisma skin (Scincidae) from La Réunion, Indian Ocean, based on recent fossil remains and ancient DNA sequence. Zootaxa 1705: 40-50. 2008
[2] Anthony Cheke; Julian P. Hume: Lost Land of the Dodo: The ecological history of Mauritius, Réunion, and Redrigues. Yale University Press 2008

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edited: 04.05.2022

Palaeornis bensoni (Holyoak)

Thirioux’s Grey Parrot (Palaeornis bensoni)

Thirioux’s Grey Parrot, also known as Mauritius Grey Parrot, is an extinct member of one of the most remarkable radiations of birds that we currently know of and which repeatedly settled the Mascarene Islands to give rise to new, endemic forms, this happened several times, leading to the formation of several endemic forms.

The species was originally described on the basis of subfossil bones that were recovered from a cave in the mountains of Mauritius, it was then described as being a close relative of the likewise extinct Broad-billed Parrot (Lophopsittacus mauritianus (Owen)).

In 2007, however, the remains were reinvestigated and recognized to be very similar to the bones of the Alexandrine Parakeet (Psittacula eupatria (L.)) and thus were assigned to the genus Psittacula.

***

A study in 2019 found out that the genus Psittacula is polyphyletic, that means that this genus actually contains several distinct clades and should be split into several genera. This species was unfortunately not included in the study, however, being skeletally similar to the Alexandrine Parakeet, I decided to tentatively include it in the genus Palaeornis. [1]

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References:

[1] Michael P. Braun; Thomas Datzmann, Thomas Arndt; Matthias Reinschmidt; Heinz Schnittker; Norbert Bahr; Hedwig Sauer-Günth; Michael Wink: A molecular phylogeny of the genus Psittacula sensu lato (Aves: Psittaciformes: Psittacidae: Psittacula, Psittinus, Tanygnathus, †Mascarinus) with taxonomic implications. Zootaxa 4563(3): 547-562. 2019

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edited: 29.03.2021

Necropsittacus rodericanus (Milne-Edwards)

Rodrigues Parrot (Necropsittacus rodericanus)

This species was described in 1867 based on subfossil remains that were recovered from deposits on the island of Rodrigues, Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

The species was a member of a rather large radiation of parrots of which today only a single species, the Echo Parakeet (Psittacula eques ssp. echo (Newton & Newton)), is surviving on the island of Mauritius.

There is also a somewhat detailed description of the bird in life, made by a man named Tafforet in 1725.:

The largest are larger than a pigeon, and have a tail very long, the head large as well as the beak. They mostly come on the islets which are to the south of the island, where they eat a small black seed, which produces a small shrub whose leaves have the smell of the orange tree, and come to the mainland to drink water … they have their plumage green.” [1]

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References:

[1] Julian Pender Hume: Reappraisal of the parrots (Aves: Psittacidae) from the Mascarene Islands, with comments on their ecology, morphology, and affinities. Zootaxa 1513: 1-76. 2007 

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edited: 10.08.2022

Hypoestes rodriguesiana Balf. f.

Rodrigues Hypoestes (Hypoestes rodriguesiana)  

The Rodrigues Hypoestes was described in 1877, it was endemic to the island of Rodrigues in the Mascarene Islands, where it apparently was restricted to Mont Malartic, the island’s highest mountain.

The species is now extinct.

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Depiction from: ‘An account of the petrological, botanical, and zoological collections made in Kerguelen’s Land and Rodriguez during the Transit of Venus Expeditions carried out by order of her Majesty’s Government in the years 1874-75. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 168. 1879’

(public domain)

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edited: 03.11.2020

Harmogenanina linophora (Morelet)

(Harmogenanina linophora)

This species was described in 1860; it inhabited the islands of Mauritius and Réunion, Mascarene Islands.

Barely perforate, thin, costulate; corneous brown or greenish, epidermis whitish, chiefly remaining at the suture and below the carina; whorls, 6. Diam. 12 mill.” [1]

Not much else appears to be known about this species, which is now extinct.

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References

[1] George W. Tryon; Henry A. Pilsbry; a. o.: Manual of Conchology. Second series: Pulmonata. Vol 2: Zonitidae. 1886

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Photo: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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edited: 14.08.2022

Macrobrachium hirtimanus (Olivier)

Mascarene Freshwater Prawn (Macrobrachium hirtimanus)  

The Mascarene Freshwater Prawn was described in 1811, the species was apparently endemic to the islands of Mauritius and Réunion, Mascarene Islands, where it is known to have inhabited several rivers.  

The species was last recorded in the 1980s on Réuinion and was not found in later surveys, so is now either extremely rare or may already be extinct. [1][2]  

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References:  

[1] P. Keith; E. Vigneux: First capture of Macrobrachium lepidactylus (Hilgendorf, 1879) (Palaemonidae) on Réunion Island, followed by a commentary on Macrobrachium hirtimanus (Olivier, 1811). Crustaceana 73(2): 215-222. 2000 
[2] P. Keith: Freshwater fish and decapod crustacean populations on Réunion Island, with an assessmemnt of species introductions. Bulletin Français de la Pêche et de la Pisciculture. 364: 97-107. 2002  

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edited: 24.04.2019

Justicia psychotrioides Thou. ex Schult

Psychotria-like Justicia (Justicia psychotrioides)

The Psychotria-like Justicia was described in 1822, as far as I’m aware based on a herbarium specimen, the species was endemic to the island of Mauritius, Mascarene Islands.

The species is now considered extinct. 

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edited: 07.05.2019

Tropidophora bipartita (Morelet)

Two-parted Tropidophora Snail (Tropidophora bipartita)

This species was described in 1875 based on subfossil specimens that had been recovered from the island of Rodrigues.:

subfossile, mêlé à des ossements de Dronte dans les cavernes du littoral de l’île.

translation:

subfossil, mixed with bones of the Dronte in the caves at the coast of the island.” [1]

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References:

[1] Louis Germain: Faune malacologique terrestre et fluviatile des Iles Mascareignes. Paris 1921

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Depiction from: ‘A. Morelet: Appendice à la Conchyliologie de l’île Rodrigues. Journal de Conchyliologie 23: 21-30. 1875’

(public domain)

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edited: 24.04.2019

Tornatellinops jauffreti (Madge)

Jauffret’s Elasmias Snail (Tornatellinops jauffreti)  

This very enigmatic species was apparently described in 1946, it is said to have been endemic either to the island of Mauritius or Rodrigues, Mascarene Islands.  

The species is either placed in the genus Elasmias or Tornatellinops and the species name is variably given as jauffreti or jaurffreti. [1]  

***  

I could not found any further piece of information.  

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References:  

[1] C. Montague Cooke Jr.; Yoshio Kondo: Revision of Tornatellinidae and Achatinellidae (Gastropoda, Pulmonata). Bishop Museum Bulletins 221: 1-303. 1960  

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edited: 23.04.2019

Gibbus lyonetianus (Pallas)

Purple Gibbus Snail (Gibbus lyonetianus

This species was described in 1780.  

The Purple Gibbus Snail was endemic to the island of Mauritius, it had a conspicuous, strangely compressed shell and probably was a predatory species.  

***

It appears to have been a quite colorful species.:  

The sole of the foot in this species is yellow; the anterior part of the upper surface varies from reddish claret to purple, and the posterior is yellow, dotted with minute purplish spots; the tentacles are dull purple.” [1]  

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References:  

[1] Geoffrey Nevill: Notes on some of the species of land Mollusca inhabiting Mauritius and the Seychelles. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 257-261. 1868  

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Photo from: ‘Louis Germain: Faune malacologique terrestre et fluviatile des Iles Mascareignes. Paris 1921’

(public domain) 

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edited: 06.11.2017

Necropsar rodericanus Günther & Newton

Rodrigues Starling (Necropsar rodericanus)

The Rodrigues Starling was endemic to the island of Rodrigues, Mascarene Islands, it was described in 1879 based on subfossil material.

***

A French sailor named Julien Tafforet, who was stranded on the island of Rodrigues from 1725 to 1726, reported an interesting sighting.:

On trouve un petit oiseau qui n’est pas fort commun, car il ne se trouve pas sur la grande terre; on en vout sur l’île au Mât, qui est au sud de la grande terre, et je crois qu’il se tient sur cette île à cause des oiseaux de proie qui sont à la grande terre, comme aussi pur vivre avec plus de facilité de oefs ou quelques tortues mortes de faim qu’ils savent assez bien déchirer. Ces ouiseaux sont un peu plus gros qu’un merle et ont le plumage blanc, une partie des aîles et de la queue noire, le bec jaune aussi bein que les pattes, et ont un ramage merveillex; je dis un ramage quoiqu’ils en aient plusieurs, et tous différents, et chacun de plus jolis. Nous en avons nourri quelques uns avec de la viande cuite hachée bien menu, qu’ils mangeaient préférablement aux graines de bois.

translation:

There is a small bird that is not very common, because it is not on the mainland; you can see it on islet au Mât [Île Gombrani], which is south of the mainland, and I think it stands on this island because of the birds of prey that are on the mainland, as well as pure living and the ease of eggs [of seabirds, that they obviously fed upon], or some turtles dead from hunger, which they know well enough to tear [out of their shells]. These birds are a little larger than a blackbird [Réunion Bulbul (Hypsipetes borbonicus J. R. Forster)], and have white plumage, a part of the elbows and tail black, the bill is as yellow as the legs, and has a marvelous warbling; I say a warbling even though they have several notes, and all different, and each one more beautiful. We fed some with well-chopped cooked meat, which they ate preferably with wood seeds.” 

This contemporary account lead Masauji Hachisuka in 1937 to describe a corvid (?) species (Testudophaga bicolor). It is now, however, thought that this account refers to a species of starling, very likely the Rodrigues Starling.

The species had obviously already disappeared from the island of Rodrigues in the middle of the 18th century and was restricted to offshore islets as its last bastion. 

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References:

[1] The Marquess Hachisuka: Extinct Cough from Rodriguez. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 50: 211-214. 1937

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edited: 24.04.2019

Cylindraspis indica (Schneider)

Reunion Giant Tortoise (Cylindraspis indica)

The Reunion Giant Tortoise was described in 1783, it was endemic to the island of Réunion, Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean, where it formerly was extremely numerous, forming large herds.

The species was the largest within its genus, with carapace lenghts of 0,5 to 1,1 m.

There appear to have been both dome-shaped as well as saddle-shaped individuals in this species and they may in fact constitute two distinct species, as it is the case on the two neigboring islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, which each harbored two endemic tortoise species once.

***

The tortoises were killed by the first European settlers but also caught in vast numbers by sailors to be stacked into the holds of their ships, where they, simply being turned on their backs condemned to die a horrible slow death, provided a source of fresh meat for months.

The species disappeared at the beginning of the 18th century with the last remaining individuals surviving in hidden spots on the highlands until around 1840.

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Depiction from: Joannis Davidis Schoepff: Historia testudinum iconibus illustrata. Erlangae: J. J. Palm 1792-1801

(not in copyright)

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edited: 19.01.2020

Dancea bewsheriana (Morelet)

Bewsher’s Plegma Snail (Dancea bewsheriana 

This species was described in 1875.  

The species was endemic to the island of Rodrigues, Mascarene Islands, and is apparently known exclusively from subfossil specimens. [1]  

Bewsher’s Plegma Snail was a quite large species, the shells reached sizes of over 3 cm in diameter.  

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References:  

[1] Vincent Florens: Mollusques terrestres récoltés dans les grottes de Rodrigues. Bulletin Phaethon 3: 42-43. 1996  

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Depiction from: ‘A. Morelet: Appendice à la Conchyliologie de l’île Rodrigues. Journal de Conchyliologie 23: 21-30. 1875’

(public domain) 

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edited: 31.10.2017