About 136,000 years ago, the white-throated rail went extinct along with almost all other birds. Later, researchers found that these exotic birds live on the Aldabra Atoll. This island was submerged underneath the Indian Ocean. Recently, this all changed.
Since there are not any predators on the island, the bird has become flightless. Julian Hume of the Natural History Museum says,
“Something sets them off and they fly in all directions. It can happen every fifty years or every hundred years. People still don’t really understand it, but if the birds are lucky some of them will land on an island.”
CNN recently reported that new sea levels reveal the Aldabra Atoll along with the white-throated rail. David Martill, of the University of Portsmouth, co-wrote Repeated evolution of flightlessness in Dryolimnas rails (Aves: Rallidae) after extinction and recolonization on Aldabra, explains,
“We know of no other example in rails, or of birds in general, that demonstrates this phenomenon so evidently.”
The birds originated in Madagascar, then they moved. After a while, some went to mainland Africa. Others went East, towards the Indian Ocean. Aldabra, apparently has some of the oldest fossils compared to other islands. Using fossils, scientist were able to find that rising sea levels lead to the extinction of the bird.
After the island flooded, the structure of the birds changed. Luckily they are no longer extinct. The unique bird is coming back. Lastly, he adds,
“Conditions were such on Aldabra, the most important being the absence of terrestrial predators and competing mammals, that a rail was able to evolve flightlessness independently on each occasion,”
If you are interested in learning more about this awesome bird, please watch the video below.