Back From The Dead: Extinct Bird Species Evolves Back Into Existence After 136,000 Years

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According to the latest reports, a previously extinct species of a bird came back into existence. The study says that the Aldabra rail was first extinct about 136,000 years ago and now, it’s reclaimed its home island.

This recent study has been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The study says that 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, according to 10TV.com.

It seems that every species on this island went extinct, but the Aldabra rail has returned over and over again.

The example of iterative evolution

This is a great example of iterative evolution – this means that the same ancestral lineage leads to repeated evolution of a species at various points in time.

This is a pretty rare phenomenon which highlights the fact that species can re-emerge over and over again, despite the fact that past iterations have gone extinct.

The flightless bird has been extinct when the island disappeared below the sea, and this happened about 136k years ago.

When the sea levels fell again some thousand years later, the fossils found there show that the species have re-colonized it once they lost the ability to fly due to an absence of predators from the island.

An extremely important find 

“These unique fossils provide irrefutable evidence that a member of the rail family colonized 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.

He continued and explained that “Fossil evidence presented here is unique for rails, and epitomizes the ability of these birds to successfully colonize isolated islands and evolve flightlessness on multiple occasions.”

The study represents one of the most important instances found in birds, and it marks the first time iterative evolution has been observed in rails.