1000PA

| 1000 Prehistorc Animals | Dinosaurs, Fossils, Ruins | Articles and News |

  • Home
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Evolution

    • Evolution / Charles Darwin

      Life on Earth evolved from a universal common ancestor approximately 3.8 billion years ago...

  • Paleontology

Sun06252017

Last update04:28:52 PM GMT

Back Paleontology Early Birds An extinct species of scops owl has been discovered in Madeira

An extinct species of scops owl has been discovered in Madeira

  • PDF

1000pa (Mar. 23, 2012) — An international team of scientists, including some from Majorca and the Canary Islands, have described a new type of fossil scops owl, the first extinct bird on the archipelago of Madeira (Portugal). Otus mauli, which was also the first nocturnal bird of prey described in the area, lived on land and became extinct as a result of humans arriving on the island.

Twenty years ago, the German researcher Harald Pieper discovered fossil remains of a small nocturnal bird of prey in Madeira, which, until now, had not been studied in depth. The international team of palaeontologists has shown that the remains belong to a previously unknown extinct species of scops owl, which they have called Otus mauli.

"It has long legs and wings slightly shorter than the continental European scops owl from which it derives" Josep Antoni Alcover, one of the authors of the study and researcher at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA), a mixed centre of the university of the Balearic Islands and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), said.

The result of the analysis of the proportions of the remains found, which has been published in the journal Zootaxa, reveals that Otus mauli could be a land inhabiting species that ate invertebrates and "occasionally lizards or birds."

"It is likely that their extinction is linked to the arrival of humans and the fauna they brought with them," Alcover explains. He also points out that their disappearance formed part of a pattern of extinction of the island's species, which occurred in virtually all the islands of the world.

According to researchers, amongst the causes of extinction of this scops owl, the destruction of its habitat is highlighted, as Madeira had a lot of serious fires during the seven years that followed the Portuguese arrival. Furthermore, humans brought new birds with diseases that were unfamiliar to the native species, as well as rats and mice that could prey on eggs of animals that had nests close to the ground.

Exclusive to Madeira?

The same or a similar species has been investigated in Porto Santo, another island of the archipelago of Madeira. "This is extremely interesting" the researcher says, "but difficult to assess because the materials found are limited and fragmented."

"If the scops owls of Madeira and Porto Santo were different species, it would mean that the Otus' flying ability is much more limited than continental scops owls. The distance between the two islands would be enough to isolate them" Alcover points out.

The homogeneity of the scops owls' measurements on the two islands, as well as the differences compared to European scops owls suggests that they were genetically isolated from the European populations. The distance between the continent and the island was enough to explain the difference in the species.

On this island they expect to discover new species of birds in the near future "which will report a world that disappeared just a few hundred years ago." "The same thing will happen in the Azores islands where there is already evidence that a scops owl different to the ones in Madeira and Europe that is also extinct" the scientist says.

Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:

Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:


Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Plataforma SINC, via AlphaGalileo.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rando J.C.; Pieper H.; Alcover J.A.; Olson S.L. A new species of extinct fossil Scops owl (Aves: Strigiformes: Strigidae: Otus) from the Archipelago of Madeira (North Atlantic Ocean). Zootaxa, 2012

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of 1000pa or its staff.

First Bird

First Bird
What was the earliest known bird?

Unexplained artifacts

unexplained artifacts
The 10 most amazing unexplained artifacts

Evolution

Timeline: Human Evolution

Biggest Dinosaurs

The 10 Biggest Dinosaurs

Fossils 

Fossil Formation: How Do Fossils Form?
 

Book review

Dinosaurs Encyclopedia

Book Review

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages ... WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL paleontologist specifically for young readers, this guide to the Dinosauria is packed...