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Galápagos Faces First Ever Bird Extinction

The Galápagos Vermilion Flycatcher. (Image courtesy: Google)
The Galápagos Vermilion Flycatcher. (Image courtesy: Google)

Scientists have discovered a new species of colorful songbird in the Galápagos Islands, however the species is extinct.

This is being considered as the first modern extinction of a Galápagos bird species.

Researchers from the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco State University (SFSU), the University of New Mexico (UNM), and the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory (SFBBO) used molecular data from samples of museum specimens to determine that two subspecies of Vermilion Flycatchers, both found only in the Galápagos, should be elevated from subspecies to full species status.

One of these newly recognized species San Cristóbal Island Vermilion Flycatcher hasn’t been seen since 1987.

The study examined the complex evolutionary history of Vermilion Flycatchers by using advanced genetic techniques.

In the absence of living tissue, the team turned to the California Academy of Sciences, which houses the largest collection of Galápagos bird specimens in the world.

Specimens collected and preserved over 100 years ago allowed the team to carry out DNA sequencing and piece together an evolutionary history of the species.

The exact cause of this extinction is however unknown. Furthermore the vermilion flycatcher subspecies currently face threats from invasive rats, which eat the birds’ eggs, and a parasitic fly called Philornis downsi.

The findings were published online earlier this May in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

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