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TechnologyAn extinct bird species has evolved back into existence, study says

01:10  11 may  2019
01:10  11 may  2019 Source:   cbsnews.com

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Thanks to our pollution and deforestation, we humans have made a lot of species go extinct during our time on Earth. But since then, it's somehow effectively evolved back into existence . The flightless birds evolved from a parent species that originated around Madagascar that were capable of flight.

15 extinct bird species of the world. From the Mauritius Island's dodo to the recently extinct Nevertheless by 1681, the hungry Dutch sailors had contributed a big portion in its disappearance This species was brought into the area as a game bird and was wide spread in the south and north

An extinct bird species has evolved back into existence, study says© CHARLES J SHARP 200513-web.jpg

A previously extinct species of bird has re-evolved back into existence, according to a new study. The Aldabra rail first went extinct around 136,000 years ago. Now, it's reclaimed its home island.

According to a study published Wednesday in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, sediments from the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean show that the island has been completely submerged multiple times, wiping out all species inhabiting it. Every time, every species on the island went extinct — but the Aldabra rail has returned, again and again.

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But the small bird has big bragging rights, because it has effectively evolved into existence twice after first going extinct some 136,000 years ago. Fossils of the flightless bird were found both before and after Albadra was submerged by an “inundation event” that occurred around 136,000 years ago, said

But the small bird has big bragging rights, because it has effectively evolved into existence twice after first going extinct some 136,000 years ago. This means that near-identical species can pop up multiple times in different eras and locations, even if past iterations have gone extinct .

The rail is an example of iterative evolution — when the same ancestral lineage leads to repeated evolution of a species at different points in time. The rare phenomenon means that species can re-emerge over and over, despite past iterations going extinct.


The flightless bird — a descendant of a species of flying bird known as the white-throated rail — was completely wiped out when the island disappeared below sea level about 136,000 years ago. When sea levels fell again a few thousand years later, fossils show that the species re-colonized it, once again losing the ability to fly due to an absence of predators on the island.

"These unique fossils provide irrefutable evidence that a member of the rail family colonised the atoll, most likely from Madagascar, and became flightless independently on each occasion," lead researcher Dr. Julian Hume, avian paleontologist and research associate at the Natural History Museum, said in a statement. "Fossil evidence presented here is unique for rails, and epitomises the ability of these birds to successfully colonise isolated islands and evolve flightlessness on multiple occasions."

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De- extinction – resurrecting species that have disappeared – has become a popular if contentious idea The evidence suggests that quaggas evolved their unique coat pattern relatively recently in why try to bring an extinct animal back , when there are so many extinct animals that still exist but

De- extinction , or resurrection biology, or species revivalism is the process of creating an organism, which is either a member of, or resembles an extinct species

While flying was not necessary to avoid predators, it also meant the birds had no way to escape their native island once sea levels began to rise. But unlike the famous Dodo of Mauritius, the rails were able to re-emerge from Madagascar once sea levels lowered again.

Today, the flightless Aldabra rail has once again reclaimed its island — and it's now the last surviving species of flightless bird in the Indian Ocean.

The study marks the first time iterative evolution has been observed in rails, and represents one of the "most significant" instances ever found in birds, scientists say.

"We know of no other example in rails, or of birds in general, that demonstrates this phenomenon so evidently," co-author professor David Martill, a paleobiologist at the University of Portsmouth, said. "Only on Aldabra, which has the oldest palaeontological record of any oceanic island within the Indian Ocean region, is fossil evidence available that demonstrates the effects of changing sea levels on extinction and recolonization events."

With the risk of extinction looming over 1 million species of plants and animals, modern Aldabra rails may face the same fate as their ancestors. But given the evidence of this study, perhaps a third iteration of the rail will eventually return to the remote island.

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