Tag Archives: Pterodroma sp. Henderson Island

Pterodroma sp. ‘Henderson Island’

Small Henderson Island Petrel (Pterodroma sp.)

The archaeological sites on Henderson Island, Pitcairn Islands, yielded numerous subfossil bones of several bird species, most of which are now extinct.

The seabirds are represented by several species that formerly bred on the island and some that still do so today.

The four subfossil bones discussed here, found in a cave named Lone Frigate Cave, however, appear to represent a unknown species that does not fit to any of the recent species. This form was smaller than all other species breeding on Henderson Island today; the Phoenix Petrel (Pterodroma alba (Gmelin)), the Herald Petrel (Pterodroma heraldica Salvin), and Murphy’s Petrel (Pterodroma ultima Murphy).

The species is obviously not identical to the Henderson Petrel (Pterodroma atrata Mathews), which is endemic to Henderson Island and still extant. [1]


It has nevertheless not yet been described because there are several uncertainties regarding the species-level systematics and osteology within the family Procellariidae. [1]



[1] Susan E. Schubel; David W. Steadman: More bird bones from Polynesian archaeological sites on Henderson Island, Pitcairn group, South Pacific. Atoll Research Bulletin, 325: 1-14. 1989


edited: 18.11.2012