Tag Archives: Society Islands

Succinea pallida Pfeiffer

Pallid Amber Snail (Succinea pallida)

The Pallid Amber Snail was confined to the sister islands of Ra’iatea and Taha’a, where it was historically very abundant and could be found on any moist places on the ground.

The species, which was described in 1847, is now extinct.

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References:

[1] Justin Gerlach: Land and Freshwater Snails of Tahiti and the other Society Islands. Phelsuma Press, Cambridge 2017

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edited: 26.11.2018

Staphylinidae gen. & sp. ‘Mo’orea’

Moorean Osoriine Rove Beetle (Staphylinidae gen. & sp.)

This species is known from at least a single head capsule that was recovered from deposits on the island of Mo’orea in the Society Islands; it can at least assigned to the subfamily Osoriinae. [1]

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References:

[1] Jennifer G. Kahn, Cordelia Nickelsen, Janelle Stevenson, Nick Porch, Emilie Dotte-Sarout, Carl C. Christensen, Lauren May, J. Stephen Athens, Patrick V. Kirch: Mid- to late Holocene landscape change and anthropogenic transformations on Mo‘orea, Society Islands: A multi-proxy approach. The Holocene 1-15. 2014

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edited: 31.10.2020

Acrocephalus musae ssp. musae (J. R. Forster)

Raiatea Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus musae ssp. musae)

The Raiatea Reed Warbler was first collected in 1773 during James Cook’s second expedition into the South Sea, it was described in 1844.

The bird was depicted by Georg Forster (see below).

The species was collected again in the 1870s but apparently disappeared sometimes later because it was not found by the famous WSSE (Whitney South Sea Expedition) in 1922. Today only a single specimen remains in the collection of the ‘Übersee-Museum’ in Bremen, Germany

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References:

[1] Alice Cibois; Jean-Claude Thibault; Eric Pasquet: Systematics of the extinct reed warblers Acrocephalus of the Society Islands of eastern Polynesia. Ibis 150: 365–376. 2008

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Depiction: Georg Forster; between 1772 and 1775

(public domain)

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edited: 21.01.2019

Curculionidae gen. & sp. ‘Mo’orea’

Moorean Cossonine Weevil(s) (Curculionidae gen. & sp.)

At least five genera/species assignable to the weevil subfamily Cossoninae are known from subfossil pronota found in deposits on the island of Mo’orea, Society Islands.

These remains belong to species of very different dimensions; the largest of them being almost nine times as large as the smallest.

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References:

[1] Jennifer G. Kahn, Cordelia Nickelsen, Janelle Stevenson, Nick Porch, Emilie Dotte-Sarout, Carl C. Christensen, Lauren May, J. Stephen Athens, Patrick V. Kirch: Mid- to late Holocene landscape change and anthropogenic transformations on Mo‘orea, Society Islands: A multi-proxy approach. The Holocene 1-15. 2014

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edited: 31.10.2020

Aplonis diluvialis Steadman

Huahine Starling (Aplonis diluvialis)

The Huahine Starling was described in 1989, it is known only from subfossil remains, which were excavated from archaeological deposits on the island of Huahine in the Society Islands. [1]

The species was quite large, it might have reached a size of up to 29 cm.

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References:

[1] David W. Steadman: A new species of starling (Sturnidae, Aplonis) from an archaeological site on Huahine, Society Islands. Notornis 36: 161–169. 1989

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edited: 30.04.2021

Mautodontha subtilis (Garrett)

Subtile Mautodontha Snail (Mautodontha subtilis)

This species was described in 1884; it is, or rather was, endemic to the island of Huahine in the Society archipelago.

The shells reach sizes of about 0,29 to 0,34 cm in diameter; they are light yellowish horn-colored with evenly spaced, wide, slightly zigzag-shaped, reddish flammulations which fade out on the base of the shell. [1]

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References:

[1] Alan Solem: Endodontoid land snails from Pacific Islands (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Sigmurethra). Part I, Family Endodontidae. Field Museum of Natural History Chicago, Illinois 1976

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Depiction from: ‘G. W. Tryon; H. A. Pilsbry; a.o.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 3, Helicidae Vol. 1. 1887’   

(public domain)

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edited: 13.03.2021

Ampagia sp. ‘Moorea’

Moorean Ampagia Weevil (Ampagia sp.)

This species is apparently only known from a subfossil head capsule that was recovered from deposits on the island of Mo’orea in the Society Islands.

The species might have been mainly black in color. [1]

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References:  

[1] Jennifer G. Kahn, Cordelia Nickelsen, Janelle Stevenson, Nick Porch, Emilie Dotte-Sarout, Carl C. Christensen, Lauren May, J. Stephen Athens, Patrick V. Kirch: Mid- to late Holocene landscape change and anthropogenic transformations on Mo‘orea, Society Islands: A multi-proxy approach. The Holocene 1-15. 2014

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edited: 02.05.2021

Miocalles sp. ‘Mo’orea’

Black Moorea Miocalles Weevil (Miocalles sp.)

This species is known from a subfossil pronotum that was recovered from deposits on the island of Mo’orea in the Society Islands.

The species apparently was generally black in color. [1]

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References:

[1] Jennifer G. Kahn, Cordelia Nickelsen, Janelle Stevenson, Nick Porch, Emilie Dotte-Sarout, Carl C. Christensen, Lauren May, J. Stephen Athens, Patrick V. Kirch: Mid- to late Holocene landscape change and anthropogenic transformations on Mo‘orea, Society Islands: A multi-proxy approach. The Holocene 25(2): 1-15. 2014

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edited: 08.05.2022

Mautodontha saintjohni Solem

St. John’s Mautodontha Snail (Mautodontha saintjohni)

This species was described in 1976; it was endemic to the island of Bora Bora in the Society archipelago.

The shells reach about 0,26 to 0,3 cm in diameter; they are white and bear prominent zigzag-shaped, reddish flammulations. 

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References:

[1] Alan Solem: Endodontoid land snails from Pacific Islands (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Sigmurethra). Part I, Family Endodontidae. Field Museum of Natural History Chicago, Illinois 1976

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edited: 13.03.2021

Mautodontha parvidens (Pease)

Small-toothed Mautodontha Snail (Mautodontha parvidens)

The Small-toothed Mautodontha Snail was described in 1861; this species is known to occur on at least three islands, Huahine, Mo’orea, and Tahiti in the Society Islands.

The shells reach sizes of about 0,28 to 0,39 cm in diameter; they are light yellowish white with broad, protractively sinuate, reddish flammulations which become faint or absent on the base of the shell. [1]

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References:

[1] Alan Solem: Endodontoid land snails from Pacific Islands (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Sigmurethra). Part I, Family Endodontidae. Field Museum of Natural History Chicago, Illinois 1976

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Depiction from: ‘G. W. Tryon; H. A. Pilsbry; a.o.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 3, Helicidae Vol. 1. 1887’   

(public domain)

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edited: 13.03.2021

Pavonia papilionacea A. J. Cavanilles

Tahitian Pavonia (Pavonia papilionacea 

The oldest known specimen of this species was collected on the island of Tahiti, Society Islands in 1769 during Cook’s first voyage around the world, the species was subsequently collected only five more times with the last specimen having been taken around 1850.

The species was apparently more widespread in the Society Islands, as at least one specimen was found on the island of Bora Bora, this was described as a distinct species in 1981, however, was later downgraded to synonymous status. [1]

The Tahitian Pavonia disappeared at the middle of the 19th century.

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References:

[1] F. R. Fosberg; M.-H. Sachet: Pavonia (Malvaceae) in the Society Islands. Bulletin du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle 4 sér. 3, section B, Adansonia 1: 15-18. 1981

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Depiction from: ‘Sydney Parkinson: A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, in his Majesty’s Ship the Endeavour. London: Stanfield Parkinson 1773’  

(public domain)

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edited: 19.06.2020

Partula faba ssp. faba (Gmelin)

Bean-shaped Tree-Snail (Partula faba ssp. faba)

The Bean-shaped Tree-Snail was described in 1791, being the first species of its genus to be described.

The species inhabited the sister islands of Ra’iatea and Taha’a, Society Islands, with both islands harbouring an endemic subspecies respectively. It was extremely abundand in former times and was found everywhere on the islands from the sea level to the highest peaks.

The great variability of the shell coloration led to the description of various ‘varieties’. [1]

***

The Bean-shaped Tree-Snail was heavily declining in the 1990s after the Rosy Wolf-Snail (Euglandina sp.) had been introduced to and established on the island. 

In an effort to save this species from extinction as much as 89 individuals were collected in 1991 and brought into captivity to be bred. One year later, in 1992, one last surviving individual was found and collected in the Vaiapu Valley, another 65 individuals were found and collected on the Temehani Plateau also to be brought into captivity – this was the last time the species was ever seen in the wild.

These last known individuals did well in captivity and even readily produced offspring and the future prospects for the this partulid species appeared to be good, however, the individuals born in captivity did not produce that much offspring, and the following generations finally produced none at all and the number of individuals dwindled. 

The last surviving individuals were kept in several Zoos in Great Britain, including the Zoos of Bristol and London, but the number still dropped and dropped to only two remaining individuals in 2015. These last two survivors of their species were finally brought to the Zoo of Edinburgh, who had the greatest experiences with breeeding endangered partulid snails, however, this was unsuccessful.

The very last individual finally died today, February 21th, 2016, making it the 34th partulid species to have become extinct within the last 20 years. [1] 

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References:

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016

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Photo: Naturalis Biodiversity Center  
https://www.naturalis.nl

(no copyright)  

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edited: 29.04.2019

Mautodontha punctiperforata (Garrett)

Perforated Mautodontha Snail (Mautodontha punctiperforata)

This species was described in 1884; it is, or rather was, endemic to the island of Mo’orea in the Society archipelago.

The shells reach sizes of 0,3 to about 0,36 cm in diameter; they are light yellowish horn-colored with prominent, reddish flammulations which are broader above and are becoming narrower on the body whorl, fading out on the base of the shell. [2]

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References:

[1] Alan Solem: Endodontoid land snails from Pacific Islands (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Sigmurethra). Part I, Family Endodontidae. Field Museum of Natural History Chicago, Illinois 1976

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Depiction from: ‘G. W. Tryon; H. A. Pilsbry; a.o.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 3, Helicidae Vol. 1. 1887’   

(public domain)

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edited: 13.03.2021

Partula dentifera ssp. imperforata (Garrett)

Unperforated Tree-Snail (Partula dentifera ssp. imperforata)  

This form was described in 1884, originally as a distinct species.  

The Unperforated Tree-Snail was endemic to the island of Ra’iatea, Society Islands, where it inhabited the Mt. Tefatua, as well as many of the smaller valleys on the western side of the island at elevations from sea-level to about 700 m.  

This form differs from the nominate form by several characters, for example by its narrower umbilicus, which sometimes is fully closed. [1]  

***

The Unperforated Tree-Snail, like all its congeners from the lowland areas of Ra’iatea, is now extinct.  

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References:  

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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Depiction from: ‘George W. Tryon; Henry A. Pilsbry; a.o.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 20, Caecilioides, Clessula and Partulidae. Index to Vols. 16-20. 1909-1910’

(public domain) 

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edited: 21.10.2017

Partula dentifera ssp. formosa (Garrett)

Beautiful Tree-Snail (Partula dentifera ssp. formosa 

This subspecies was described in 1884, originally as a distinct species.  

The Beautiful Tree-Snail was endemic to the southwestern part of Ra’iatea, Society Islands, where it inhabited several valleys, including the Faaroa, the Faatemu, the Tivae, the Vaeanae, and the Vaiaau valleys. It was an arboreal form and was usually found on shrubs. [2]  

***

The following citation about this species in life is from Andrew Garrett.:  

The metropolis of this very distinct species is in Fatimu, or on the southwest part of Raiatea. It occurs in vast numbers on bushes on the lowlands near the seashore, becoming more scarce inland, where it is found associated with P. Hebe, var. bella. It ranges north as far as Vaiau valley, becoming less and less abundant as the distance increases from its specific centre.” [1]  

***

The shells of this rather large form reached a height of about 2,5 cm.  

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References:  

[1] Andrew Garrett: The terrestrial Mollusca inhabiting the Society Islands. Philadelphia: Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 1884 [2] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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Depiction from: ‘George W. Tryon; Henry A. Pilsbry; a.o.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 20, Caecilioides, Clessula and Partulidae. Index to Vols. 16-20. 1909-1910’ 

(public domain)

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edited: 21.10.2017

Monarcha maupitiensis (Garnot)

Maupiti Monarch (Monarcha maupitiensis)

This species was described in 1928, respectively in 1929; it is known exclusively from a painting, which again is depicting (in my opinion) a pair of the species as well as a juvenile bird (see depiction below).

The species did once inhabit the small island of Maupiti in the western leeward islands of the Society archipelago; this island has been completely deforested and is now covered with introduced vegetation.

The original endemic land bird fauna is not known, except for this one, rather enigmatic monarch species, but it may well have included several other species.

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Depiction from: ‘Louis Isidore Duperrey; René-Primevère Lesson: Voyage autour du monde: exécuté par ordre du roi, sur la corvette de Sa Majesté, la Coquille, pendant les années 1822, 1823, 1824, et 1825. Vol. 5. Arthus Bertrand 1826

(public domain)

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edited: 07.05.2022

Mautodontha maupiensis (Garrett)

Maupiti Mautodontha Snail (Mautodontha maupiensis)

This species from the island of Maupiti was described in the year 1884. 

The shells reach an average size of 0,3 cm in diameter; they are light yellowish horn-colored with vague, somewhat regularly spaced, reddish flammulations. [2] 

***

Andrew J. Garrett, the species’ author, writes in the year 1884.: 

Very common, and confined to the small island of Maupiti.” [1]

Thus, the Maupiti Disc Snail, of which today 21 museum specimens are still in existence, must still have been very common in the 19th century, but died out shortly after.

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References: 

[1] Andrew J. Garrett: The terrestrial Mollusca inhabiting the Society Islands”. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 2nd series 9: 17-114. 1884 
[2] Alan Solem: Endodontoid land snails from Pacific Islands (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Sigmurethra). Part I, Family Endodontidae. Field Museum of Natural History Chicago, Illinois 1976 

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Depiction from: ‘G. W. Tryon; H. A. Pilsbry; u.a.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 3, Helicidae Vol. 1. 1887’ 

(public domain)

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edited: 10.06.2012

Partula cytherea Cooke & Crampton

Mountain Tree-Snail (Partula cytherea 

This species, named with another name of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, was described in 1930.  

The Mountain Tree-Snail is known only from the upper slopes of the three highest mountains on the island of Tahiti, Mt. Aorai, Mt. Marau, and Mt. Orohena.  

The species was arboreal, living on ferns and shrubs, mainly on the leaves of lower trees.  

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References:  

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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edited: 18.10.2017

Partula lutea (Lesson)

Yellow Tree Snail (Partula lutea)  

This variably colored species was described in the year 1831.  

The species was endemic to the island of Bora Bora, Society Islands, where it was the only member of its genus, and where it was still numerously found in the 19th century on the stems, branches, and leaves of the native vegetation.  

The shells reached a height of nearly 2 cm and was usually pale yellowish to light brown with the apex being of the same color or slightly darker.  

The Yellow Tree-Snail is now extinct. [1]  

***

The same species was introduced to the island of Maupiti sometimes after 1929, from where it is known, however, only from subfossil shells, found and photographed in 2010, 2012 and 2017 by J.-F. Butaud, J. Gerlach and others.  

The species is extinct on Maupiti as well. [1][2]  

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References:  

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island tree-snails, family Partulida, Phelsuma Press, Cambridge U.K. 2016 
[2] Justin Gerlach: Partula survival in 2017, a survey of the Society Islands  

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Photo: Alexander Lang 

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edited: 18.05.2019

Partula dolorosa Crampton & Cooke

Temehani Tree-Snail (Partula dolorosa)  

This species was described in 1953.  

The Temehani Tree-Snail was endemic to the island of Ra’iatea, Society Islands, where it was apparently restricted to the Temehani Plateau.  

The species was arboreal and was usually found sitting on the leaves of native screw pines (Pandanus spp.). [1]  

***

The Temehani Tree-Snail appears to have been found in 1992 for the last time, and is extinct since.  

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References:  

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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edited: 21.10.2017

Acrocephalus longirostris (Gmelin)

Moorea Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus longirostris)  

The Tahiti Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus caffer (Sparrman)) was described in 1786 as Sitta caffra, quasi as a nuthatch coming from southern Africa. This shows how much scientists in the 18th century understood of biogeography, biology, and taxonomy …!  

This species is now the sole member of its genus leftover in the Society Islands, but in former times there were at least four distinct forms inhabiting at least four of the islands in the archipelago. 

***

According to DNA analyses made in 2008, it is now known that the four known reed warbler forms formerly found on the Society Islands are/were not conspecific but evolved from three separate colonization events.  

Thus, the Moorea Reed-Warbler, but also the Raiatea Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus musae (J. R. Forster)), are now regarded as full species. [1]  

***

The Moorea Reed-Warbler was described in 1789 (as a thrush, by the way).  

The species reached a size of about 19 cm and was superficially quite similar to the other Society Islands reed-warbler species but differed from them by its conspicuously pale outher tail feathers (unlike in the depiction below).  

The last approved record dates from 1981, however there appears to be a recent sighting made sometimes in 1998 or 1999 including a photo that, given the color of the tail feathers, almost certainly depicts this species. It is nevertheless now regarded as most likely extinct.

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References:  

[1] Alice Cibois; Jean-Claude Thibault; Eric Pasquet: Systematics of the extinct reed warblers Acrocephalus of the Society Islands of eastern Polynesia. Ibis 150: 365–376. 2008  

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Depiction: William Ellis; between 1776 and 1778

(public domain)

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edited: 21.01.2019

Partula producta Pease

Faarahi Tree-Snail (Partula producta)  

This species was described in 1865.  

The species was endemic to the island of Tahiti, Society Islands, where it was very abundant at the time of its discovery and description, and inhabited several valleys, including Apirimaue, Faarahi, Faone, Papeiti, Taharua, Temarua, Tereehia, Titaviri, Vaihiria, Vairaharaha, Vaitunamea.  

The species was mainly terrestrial, living beneath decaying leaves and among stones etc..  

The shells reached sizes of about 1,8 to 2,1 cm, there was some slight geographical variation, but most specimens were light brown with darker stripes. [1]  

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References:  [1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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Depiction from: ‘George W. Tryon; Henry A. Pilsbry; a.o.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 20, Caecilioides, Clessula and Partulidae. Index to Vols. 16-20. 1909-1910’

(public domain)

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edited: 21.10.2017

Porphyrio mcnabi Kirchman & Steadman

McNab‘s Swamphen (Porphyrio mcnabi)  

McNab‘s Swamphen was described in 2006 based on three subfossil femora that were recovered from the archaeological site at Fa’ahia at the northwestern coast of Huahine, Society Islands.

The three femurs are slightly smaller than those of the extant Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio martinicus (L.)) and the extinct Marquesan Swamphen (Porphyrio paepae Steadman), which both are of equal size. [1][2]

***

In life, McNab’s Swamphen may have reached a size of about 30 cm, it was probably still volant but may not have been a good flier.

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References:  

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006 
[2] Jeremy J. Kirchman; David W. Steadman: New Species of Rails (Aves: Rallidae) from an Archaeological Site on Huahine, Society Islands. Pacific Science 60(2): 281-297. 2006  

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edited: 30.05.2019

Partula dentifera ssp. callifera (Pfeiffer)

Callus-carrying Tree-Snail (Partula dentifera ssp. callifera)  

This form was described in 1856, originally as a distinct species.  

***

The following citation about this species in life is from Andrew Garrett.:  

A well-characterized species, restricted to the higher portion of Haamoa valley, on the east coast of Raiatea, where it is not uncommon on foliage. It may be easily determined by its creamy white color, yellow apex, constant parietal tooth, inflated body-whorl, oval or rounded “key-hole” aperture, conspicuous labial tooth and the total absence of epidermis in the adult shells. It is never banded.” [1]  

***

The shells reached a height of 1,7 to 2,1 cm, they differed from the nominate race in several characters, for example in being more ovate, having an inflated body-whorl and a more open umbilicus. [2]  

***

The species died out for the same reasons as all the other extinct Polynesian tree-snail species.  

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References:  

[1] Andrew Garrett: The terrestrial Mollusca inhabiting the Society Islands. Philadelphia: Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 1884 
[2] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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Depiction from: ‘George W. Tryon; Henry A. Pilsbry; a.o.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 20, Caecilioides, Clessula and Partulidae. Index to Vols. 16-20. 1909-1910’

(public domain) 

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edited: 21.10.2017

Acrocephalus musae ssp. garretti (Holyoak & Thibault)

Huahine Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus musae ssp. garretti)  

The reed-warblers of the Society Islands were considered as subspecies of the Tahiti Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus caffer (Sparrman)) until recently, when these forms were examined for their DNA. According to DNA analyses it is now known that the four known forms evolved from three separate colonization events. The reed-warblers of the both islands Huahine and Ra’iatea can be referred to a common ancestor and so can be conflated as two subspecies of a single species. [2]  

***

The Huahine Reed-Warbler was described in 1978 based on two specimens that had been collected sometimes between 1870 and 1887, the species was probably already long extinct at the date of its description.  

Only about a handful of stuffed specimens exist today in several European museums.  

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References:  

[1] Erwin Stresemann: Birds collected during Capt. James Cook’s last expedition (1776-1780). Auk 67(1): 66-88. 1950 
[2] Alice Cibois; Jean-Claude Thibault; Eric Pasquet: Systematics of the extinct reed warblers Acrocephalus of the Society Islands of eastern Polynesia. Ibis 150: 365–376. 2008

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edited: 17.10.2020

Macropygia arevarevauupa Steadman

Society Islands Cuckoo-Dove (Macropygia arevarevauupa)

The Society Islands Cuckoo-Dove is known only from a single subfossil tibiotarsus that was recovered from the archaeological deposits at Fa’ahia on the island of Huahine, Society Islands.

The species was probably distributed all over the Society Islands and maybe beyond, it appears to have been a terrestrial bird and was obviouslyly extirpated shortly after the arrival of the first Polynesians.

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edited: 29.05.2019

Aplonis ulietensis (Gmelin)

Ulieta Starling (Aplonis ulietensis)  

The Ulieta Starling, better known as Bay Thrush or Ulieta Thrush, is still one of the biggest mysteries of the ornithological world.  

The species is known only on the basis of a drawing which was produced by Georg Forster in 1774 (?), as well as from the appertaining description.  

The bird was originally – under reserve – described as thrush (Turdidae), but was subsequently associated with the Honeyeater family (Meliphagidae).  

Actually, it may have been a starling, because very similar starling species are well known to occur / have occurred on other, adjacent islands within Central Polynesia (only a single species, the Rarotonga Starling (Aplonis cinerascens Hartlaub & Finsch), is extant), while the other two bird families are not known from that geographical region, neither from historical specimens nor by subfossil remains.  

***

The Ulieta Starling died out sometimes during the 18th century – or – did it survive until the 19th century?  

Some of the land birds which inhabit the more interior and elevated woods have a varied and gaudy plumage; while others, with a more sombre garment, possess a melodious voice, not unlike that of our thrush or blackbird; but neither kind is sufficiently numerous to repay the exertions of the sportsman or ornithologist.” [1]

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References:  

[1] Frederick Debell Bennett: Narrative of a Whaling Voyage round the globe, from the year 1833 to 1836. Comprising Sketches of Polynesia, California, the Indian Archipelago, etc. with an account of southern whales, the sperm whale fishery, and the natural history of the climates visited. London, Richard Bentley 1840 
[2] Dieter Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986 
[3] Errol Fuller: Extinct Birds. Penguin Books (England) 1987  

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Depiction: Georg Forster, 1774

(public domain)

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edited: 18.10.2020

Partula diminuta C. B. Adams

Small Tree-Snail (Partula diminuta)  

This species was described in 1851.  

The Small Tree-Snail was restricted to the Pirae valley in northwestern Tahiti, Society Islands, which is now largely cleared for agriculture.  

The species appears to have been last recorded in 1970, when it was already restricted to the uppermost parts of its former range. It is now extinct.  

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References:  

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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Depiction from: ‘George W. Tryon; Henry A. Pilsbry; a.o.: Manual of Conchology. Second Series: Pulmonata Vol. 20, Caecilioides, Clessula and Partulidae. Index to Vols. 16-20. 1909-1910’

(public domain)

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edited: 21.10.2017

Mautodontha consimilis (Pease)

Raiatean Mautodontha Snail (Mautodontha consimilis)

This species was described in 1868; it is endemic to the island of Ra’iatea in the Society archipelago.

The shells reach sizes of up to 0,4 cm in diameter; they are light yellowish horn-colored with regularly spaced zigzag-shaped, reddish flammulations that become less prominent on the base of the shell. [1]

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References:

[1] Alan Solem: Endodontoid land snails from Pacific Islands (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Sigmurethra). Part I, Family Endodontidae. Field Museum of Natural History Chicago, Illinois 1976

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edited: 13.03.2021

Partula cuneata Crampton

Wedge-shaped Tree-Snail (Partula cuneata)  

The Wedge-shaped Tree-Snail was described in 1956.  

The species was endemic to the island of Ra’iatea, Society islands, where it was restricted to the Ere’eo Valley on the west coast of the island, which it shared with five additional tree-snail species – all of them now extinct. [1][2]

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References:

[1] Henry E. Crampton: New Species of Land Snails of the Genus Partula from Raiatea, Society Islands. American Museum Novitates 1761: 1-17. 1956
[2] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016

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edited: 30.04.2019

Dicliptera clavata (J. G. Forst.) Juss.

Clavate Dicliptera (Dicliptera clavata 

The genus Dicliptera contains about 300 species, two of which occurred on the Society Islands in French Polynesia

One of these two species, Forster’s Dicliptera (Dicliptera forsteriana Nees) (see depiction below) is more widely distributed along the Society Islands and apparently can still be found today on the islands of Bora Bora, Huahine, Ra’iatea, and Taha’a, while it appears to be extinct on Tahiti and Mo’orea. It apparently did furthermore occur on the island of Rapa in the Austral Islands.

The second species, the Clavate Dicliptera, was restricted to the island of Tahiti and is considered globally extinct. 

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Forster’s Dicliptera (Dicliptera forsteriana)

Depiction from: ‘Sydney Parkinson: A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, in his Majesty’s Ship the Endeavour. London: Stanfield Parkinson 1773’  

(public domain)

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edited: 19.06.2020

Hernandia drakeana Nadeaud

Drake’s Hernandia (Hernandia drakeana)

Drake’s Hernandia is known from the island of Mo’orea in the Society Islands; it was last recorded in 1981 and is considered extinct.

***

This may, however, not really be a species but a naturally occurring hybrid between the other two Hernandia spp. that occur on the Society Islands, Hernandia moerenhoutiana Guill. and Hernandia ovigera L..

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edited: 02.05.2022

Partula sagitta Crampton & Cooke

Arrow-shaped Tree-Snail (Partula sagitta)  

This species was described in 1953.  

The Arrow-shaped Tree-Snail was apparently restricted to a single locality at about 230 m in the Hamene valley at the slopes of Mt. Purauti in the center of Taha’a, Society Islands, where it was only ever found by the “Mangareva Expedition” in 1934.  

The species is now clearly extinct.  

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References:  

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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edited: 18.10.2017

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

Partula aurantia Crampton

Golden Tree-Snail (Partula aurantia)  

This species was described in 1932.  

The species was endemic to the eastern part of Mo’orea, Society Islands, where it inhabited several valleys, including the Faamaariri valley, the Paraoro valley and the Vaipohe valley.  

The Golden Tree-Snail was an arboreal species and was often found on the leaves of the epiphytic fara pape (Freycinetia demissa Benn.). [1]  

***

The species is now extinct, the reasons for its extinction are the same as for the other Polynesian tree-snail species.  

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References:  

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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edited: 18.10.2017

Vini sinotoi Steadman & Zarriello

Sinoto’s Lorikeet (Vini sinotoi)  

The genus Vini contains seven species, two of which are extinct now – all of them are or were endemic to the Polynesian faunal region.  

The populations of all species contracted greatly after the arrival of humans, on the other hand several species were brought to other places by early Polynesians.  

Kuhl’s Lorikeet (Vini kuhlii (Vigors)) for example was, until recently, restricted to the island of Rimatara, Austral Islands, and was actually believed to have always been endemic to that island, but is now known to have once been much more widespread, having inhabited many other islands in the Austral group as well as most of the islands in the Cook Archipelago. The species was introduced to at least two of the atolls in Kiribati by early Polynesians, and was finally reintroduced to the island of ‘Atiu, Cook Islands in 2007.  

The Blue Lorikeet (Vini peruviana (Müller)) was originally probably endemic to the Society Islands, where it is now restricted to two small atolls, but was brought by early Polynesians to Aitutaki in the Cook Islands, and to several atolls in the Tuamotu Archipelago, where it is now much more abundant than in its original range.  

Stephen’s Lorikeet (Vini stepheni (North)) is restricted to Henderson Island, but may probably have been more widespread in former times.  

The Ultramarine Lorikeet (Vini ultramarina (Kuhl)) is endemic to the Marquesas, where it once was widespread, but is now restricted to a single island.  

***

Sinoto’s Lorikeet was described in 1987 from subfossil bones which were found on Huahine, Society Islands and on Hiva Oa, Tahuata, and Ua Huka in the Marquesas, thus this species was widely distributed and often lived sympatric with one or two congeneric species.  Sinoto’s Lorikeet was the largest of its genus, and must have reached a size of about 30 cm. [2]  

***

BTW: There are very interesting accounts of parrots, said to have formerly occured on several of the Society Islands, mentioned by Teuira Henry in ‘Tahiti aux temps anciens’. [1]  

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References:  

[1] Teuira Henry: Tahiti aux temps anciens; trad. de l’anglais par Bertrand Jaunez. Paris: Société des Océanistes 1951 [2] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006

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edited: 11.02.2020

Partula levistriata Crampton

Striated Tree-Snail (Partula levistriata 

This arboreal species was described in 1956.  

The Striated Tree-Snail is apparently known from a single specimen that was collected in the Ereeo valley, where it lived sympatrically with another tree snail species that is now extinct, the Cuneate Tree-Snail (Partula cuneata Crampton.).  

The shell was yellowish corneous and was decorated with irregularly spaced transverse strigations of warm brown. The lip was white and shining. [1]  

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References:  

[1] Justin Gerlach: Icons of Evolution: Pacific Island Tree-Snails of the Family Partulidae. Phelsuma Press 2016  

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edited: 18.10.2017