Rare Event Made an Extinct Bird to Return from the Dead

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Going back 136.000 years ago, a flightless bird resided on an atoll of Aldabra from the Indian Ocean. Flora and fauna were wiped out when the island was flooded by water, and the bird has been extinct. The incredible discovery made by scientists from the University of Portsmouth and Natural History Museum is revealing that the bird has returned from the dead. This rare event is a process of evolution from the same ancestor but repeated in another point in history. The process is called iterative evolution.

The two birds are separated by a thousand years, and both have become flightless. The Rail is an indigenous bird from Madagascar who has migrated to islands like Mauritius and Reunion, and they even landed on Aldabra. Aldabra Island was under water around 100.000 years ago, but because of the low sea levels, the island had appeared again. The island was free of predators, so this crucial factor had made the birds flightless because of the lack of danger. Also, the island has remained the same, and a last surviving colony or Rails are still living in Aldabra now.

A Rare Event Made an Extinct Bird to Return from the Dead

Furthermore, the scientists have analyzed the fossils from and before the flooding event, and the Rails’ wings are showing signs of an advanced state of flightless and the ankle bones are confirming the fact of flightless. The study was published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, and Julian Hume, the lead researcher, says that the evidence is clear and is indicating the colonization of the island. The migration has taken place from Madagascar, and on the atoll, the birds become flightless.

Finally, Aldabra is an oceanic island with the oldest paleontological record and the absence of terrestrial predators. The fossils are the best proof for demonstrating the effects of the changing sea levels, of extinction, and recolonization. The Rails birds are the only few species that had shown the iterative evolution alongside the Sabretooths.


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