Schlagwort-Archive: Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui – the parrots or the parrot?

Well, it seems that I finish this whole Rapa Nui project already in December 2018 ….  

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Anyway, let’s just begin with the first one (or two?) of the endemic landbird species that once inhabited Easter Island.  

There were two parrots once …:  

Parrots are represented by a partial quadrate of a very large species (larger than in Nestor, Prosopeia, Eclectus, or any lorikeet; dissimilar from that in neotropical parrots) and digit I, phalanx 2 of the wing (larger than in Vini or Cyanoramphus, smaller than in Nestor or Eclectus; ca. the size in Prosopeia).” [1]  

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So far so fine, bat my gut feeling almost screams: “ONE!!!” What if this was a very large species, something like a Rapa Nui equivalent of the New Zealand Kakapo (Strigops habroptila Gray), a big, small-winged and flightless ground-dwelling parrot that inhabited the dense forests of the island, now long gone, searching for fallen fruits of the likewise extinct Rapa Nui Palm (Paschalococos disperta (J. Dransf.)).  

The Rapa Nui Parrot may still have been able to climb smaller trees with the help of its typical parrot beak and its feet, and it certainly was a curious and tame bird and was easily killed off by the first Polynesian discoverers of the island.  

This is my reconstruction, well it’s just a sketch so far, and the bird is still probably too small. 🙂    

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References:  

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006  

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edited: 10.12.2018

Rapa Nui – some sketches

Well, I have a lot of pictures in my head, but when I try to get them onto paper … well.

Rapa Nui about 2000 BCE.:  

A first effort, the perspectives and size ratios, of course, are completely wrong, the mountain in the background is the Rano Raraku, by the way. 
Another effort, this time without a background, note that in both pictures I already included three of the former endemic islanders.

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edited: 09.12.2018

Rapa Nui – was there an endemic goose?

When James Richard Hill MacFarlane [unfortunately I could not find out who that actually was] stayed on Easter Island in February 1884, he made the following statement, which, however, appears to be very reliable after all.:

The only birds I saw in the crater [Rano Kao] were three ruddy-coloured Geese, but I was unable to get anywhere near them.“ [1]

There were at least three geese on the island, straying around in the crater of the extinct Rano Kao volcano, but what can we make of this observation?

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Well, given the date of this observation, 1884, these geese certainly were not an endemic species now lost, but given the recorded color they may also not have been feral geese, which are always either gray or white or mottled gray and white.

The authors of the most recent listing of native and introduced birds found on Rapa Nui, Manuel Marin and Pablo Caceres, think that what Mr. McFarlane saw may have been female Upland Geese (Chloephaga picta (Gmelin)), a species that inhabits southern South America and that either may have stranded on the island after they lost their route during a flight or, probably more likely, were imported to the island by humans. [2]

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I will possibly post more interesting [I hope it is] stuff about this very, very isolated island in 2019.

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References:

[1] J. R. H. MacFarlane: Notes on birds in the western Pacific, made in H. M. S. ‚Constance‘, 1883-5. Ibis 5(5): 201-215. 1887
[2] Manuel Marin; Pablo Caceres: Sobre las aves de Isla de Pascua. Boletín del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Chile 59: 75-95. 2010

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edited: 08.12.2018