Tag Archives: Porphyrio sp.

cf. Porphyrio sp. ‘Efate’

Efate Swamphen (cf. Porphyrio sp.)

Throughout the Pacific region we now know of several radiations of rails, which sometimes include congeneric pairs or triplets of species inhabiting, respectively having formerly inhabited, single islands.

The excavations that took place on the island of Efate, Vanuatu produced subfossil bones of several well-known rails, including the Pacific Swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus ssp. samoensis Peale), but yet also of another, relatively large rail species that may have been a member of the same genus.

This form was similar in size and apparently in proportions to the likewise extinct Island Takahe (Porphyrio mantelli (Owen)) from New Zealand.

Yet, the currently known material isn’t sufficient enough to determine the genus exactly, let alone a species. [1]

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References:

[1] Trevor H. Worthy; Stuart Hawkins; Stuart Bedford; Matthew Spriggs: Avifauna from the Teouma Lapita Site, Efate Island, Vanuatu, including a new genus and species of Megapode. Pacific Science 69(2): 205-254. 2015

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edited: 01.09.2020

Porphyrio sp. ‘Rota’

Rota Swamphen (Porphyrio sp.)

Since the undescribed Tinian Swamphen (Porphyrio sp. ‘Tinian’) apparently was a flightless species, it is rather unlikely that the same species also inhabited Rota, thus the Rotan birds almost certainly were a distinct, though closely related species. [1]

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It might be of interest that the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus (Temminck)) apparently is trying to reestablish a population in Micronesia. [2]

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References:  

[1] D. W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006
[2] D. W. Buden; J. Wichep; S. Fal’Mngar: First record of Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio in the Federated States of Micronesia, with remarks on vagrants and recently established populations of rallids in Micronesia. Bulletin of the British Ornthologists’ Club 131(1): 59-63. 2011

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edited: 01.09.2020

Porphyrio sp. ‘Buka’

Buka Swamphen (Porphyrio sp. 

The Buka Swamphen is known only from (sub)fossil bones that had been found on the island of Buka, Solomon Islands.

The species has not yet been described, it was larger than any other member of its genus except for the likewise undescribed species recorded from the island of New Ireland. [1]

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The remains assigned to this species can be dated to Late Pleistocene age, the species, however, may well have survived into the Early Holocene and probably was soon extirpated by the first human settlers. [1] 

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References:  

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006

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edited: 18.05.2019

Porphyrio sp. ‘Tahiti’

Tahiti ‘Goose’ (Porphyrio sp.)

There is a nearly unknown contemporaneous account from the 18th century by James Morrison, boatswain’s mate on board on the infamous ‘Bounty’ who mentiones a enigmatic bird.:

… the mountains produce birds of different kinds unknown to us, among which are a large bird nearly the size of a goose, which is good food;  they are never observed near the sea nor in the low lands.

This mysterious, nearly goose-sized bird very likely was a rail, perhaps from the genus Porphyrio, which is known to have produced a radiation of numerous species all over Oceania. 

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Referenzen:  

[1] J. M. Derscheid: An unknown species – the Tahitian Goose. Ibis 81: 756-760. 1939

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edited: 18.05.2019