Repeated evolution of flightlessness in Dryolimnas rails (Aves: Rallidae) after extinction and recolonization on Aldabra

Julian P. Hume, David Martill

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Abstract

The Aldabra rail, Dryolimnas cuvieri subsp. aldabranus, endemic to the Aldabra Atoll, Seychelles, is the last surviving flightless bird in the Indian Ocean. Aldabra has undergone at least one major, total inundation event during an Upper Pleistocene (Tarantian age) sea-level high-stand, resulting in the loss of all terrestrial fauna. A flightless Dryolimnas has been identified from two temporally separated Aldabran fossil localities, deposited before and after the inundation event, providing irrefutable evidence that a member of Rallidae colonized the atoll, most likely from Madagascar, and became flightless independently on each occasion. Fossil evidence presented here is unique for Rallidae and epitomizes the ability of birds from this clade to successfully colonize isolated islands and evolve flightlessness on multiple occasions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-672
Number of pages7
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Volume186
Issue number3
Early online date8 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

Keywords

  • Aldabra Atoll
  • fossil
  • flightless
  • extinction
  • sea-level rise
  • recolonization

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