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GALLERIES > BIRDS > GRUIFORMES > RALLIDAE > ST HELENA CRAKE [Atlantisia podarces]


St Helena Crake Picture
 
 

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SPECIES INFO

The Saint Helena Crake or Saint Helena Rail (Porzana astrictocarpus) is an extinct bird species from the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean, one of two flightless rails which survived there until the early 16th century.

After American ornithologist Alexander Wetmore described bones of the large Saint Helena Swamphen (Atlantisia podarces) from Prosperous Bay, Saint Helena, in 1963, American paleontogologist Storrs Olson found almost complete skeletons of the Saint Helena Crake in the same region in 1973. These skeletons consists of bones which were smaller than the bones of Atlantisia podarces. Due to the peculiar shape of the carpometacarpus Olson named this species Porzana astrictocarpus.

Olson proceeded on the assumption that the Saint Helena Crake was a derivative of the Baillon's Crake (Porzana pusilla) which is widespread in Europe and Africa. Thus, that there were no predators on Saint Helena and it had lost its ability to fly. However, when Saint Helena was colonised around 1502, the settlers brought a lot of mammals to the island, which sealed the fate of the Saint Helena Crake.

Further reading
  • Storrs L. Olson, Paleornithology of St Helena Island, south Atlantic Ocean, Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology 23 (1975)

External links
  • BirdLife International (2004). Porzana astrictocarpus. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 9 November 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is extinct


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