How did this bird evolve into existence again after disappearing 136,000 years ago?

5-14-2019 aldabra white throated rail
Image: Janos Olah

The Aldabra white-throated rail, a flightless bird that lives on its namesake atoll in the Indian Ocean, doesn’t look like anything special at first glance. 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.

According to a study published [May 8] in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the rail is an example of a rarely observed phenomenon called iterative evolution, in which the same ancestral lineage produces parallel offshoot species at different points in time. This means that near-identical species can pop up multiple times in different eras and locations, even if past iterations have gone extinct.

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[R]ising sea levels wiped out the first iteration of the flightless rail, which was descended from flying forebears that originated in the Seychelles Islands and Madagascar. Amazingly, the same parent species appears to have recolonized the atoll.


Iterative evolution has been observed in many animals, such as sea cowsammonites, and sea turtles. But the two rail species, on either side of the deluge, represent an unprecedented case study of avian iterative evolution, the authors concluded.

Read full, original post: This Bird Went Extinct and Then Evolved Into Existence Again

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