An extinct bird species has evolved back into existence, stu

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techstepgenr8tion
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06 Jun 2020, 8:18 pm

Someone posted this video a while back and it's pretty amazing. Extinct species can be a bit like trick candles I guess so long as an ancestor with enough genetic similarity is still around!

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/an-extinct ... tudy-says/


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07 Jun 2020, 10:16 am

I am currently reading about island colonization and extinction in a fascinating and wel-writen book by David Quamman called The Song of the Dodo. It is an elaborate discussion and illustration of the welter of ways in which species evolve and disappear. I haven't gotten to iterative evolution yet, but am less than half way through the 1200 pages so may come upon it yet.


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naturalplastic
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07 Jun 2020, 10:37 am

I don't see how that could be possible:that a species could go extinct, and then reappear.

It might LOOK like that is happening- but its an illusion. An illusion created by the fact that flightless island species is really just a subspecies that remains in genetic contact with its flying mainland cousins. So when the island sinks into the sea the mainland population still has some flightless genes in its gene pool. So when the island resurfaces they recolonize and the genes for flightlessness get reshuffled back into individuals born on the island and get favored by the local natural selection.



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07 Jun 2020, 10:59 am

I think many of these "extinct" species have the capacity to hide from any "census takers" with the result that they get a chance to recover in remote spots far from human eyes.


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naturalplastic
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07 Jun 2020, 11:48 am

envirozentinel wrote:
I think many of these "extinct" species have the capacity to hide from any "census takers" with the result that they get a chance to recover in remote spots far from human eyes.


Supposedly the island completely vanishes under the waves. So it has no "remote spots" left.



techstepgenr8tion
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07 Jun 2020, 1:07 pm

naturalplastic wrote:
I don't see how that could be possible:that a species could go extinct, and then reappear.

It might LOOK like that is happening- but its an illusion. An illusion created by the fact that flightless island species is really just a subspecies that remains in genetic contact with its flying mainland cousins. So when the island sinks into the sea the mainland population still has some flightless genes in its gene pool. So when the island resurfaces they recolonize and the genes for flightlessness get reshuffled back into individuals born on the island and get favored by the local natural selection.

That's the trippy thing about this finding - they've said that this has been observed with some species of crabs and turtles so it wouldn't be the 'first' time that this sort of trick-candle re-ignition of a lost species has been seen.

I also think that while it's important to be responsible when looking at these sorts of things and ask skeptical questions as to what more common-sensical causes could be behind this it can be important as well to, if any other 'how' is unimaginable, to put that sort of thing on offer, and I'd have to say that one of the potential 'how's that's not in vogue currently would be some sense of Platonism in biology (going a bit beyond Penrose's application of it in physics). That might even offer a touch point when examining the question of how multiple instances of a species might arise in an unrelated fashion at the same time when the odds strict chance and mutation over time don't really offer a plausible explanation (the most plausible explanations to the contrary that I've heard is that an epigenetic range is built across the same species and it's environment interacting with epigenetics rather than mutation that causes the seeming concurrent and independent emergence).

Actually when I read this article my first impression was 'Wow - Rupert Sheldrake should be all over this!' because it's totally his jam. Is it right? Who knows, just that anytime we're finding strange black swan events in biology, like in physics, they're the interesting cases that we want to pay more attention to because they have a way of showing us what kinds of things we've been missing so far in our models and sometimes, like with the Michelson–Morley experiment or Nima Arkani Hamed's findings, they open up some real rabbit holes.


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07 Jun 2020, 2:39 pm

This is really interesting, and sent me down yet another rabbit-hole! The Wikipedia article on the White-Throated Rail puts it like this:

"This is one of the very few observed instances of iterative evolution, in which a distinct population is wiped out from an area but it is recolonized by members of the source population, who evolve in the same way as the extinct population."

So the current set of flightless rails aren't descended from the extinct ones. They ended up identical to them due to a mixture of convergent evolution plus being very closely related. (It's a bit confusing that both groups and their able-to-fly ancestors are all considered to be the same species still! I guess they can stil interbreed?)

I wonder how often this kind of thing happens when a new species emerges. A series of false starts as different groups from the parent species evolve in the same way one after another, each time getting killed off by something until finally one lineage gets lucky.

(Down the wiki-hole I found the pages called "Lazarus taxon" and "Elvis taxon." A Lazarus species is one that's thought to be extinct, but turns up alive and well later on. An Elvis species is a false Lazarus: it looks like you've rediscovered an extinct species, but actually it's a different species that's evolved to look like the first one despite not being descended from it.)


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07 Jun 2020, 6:11 pm

Fascinating study. I don't like how the article describes flightless rails as having "re-evolved", though. The rail lineages each colonized the islands independently in separate events. Flightlessness is pretty common in island endemic birds, such as kakapos and moas, but seeing it appear multiple times in the fossil record from a single species is amazing.


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07 Jun 2020, 7:15 pm

Just because a bird is flightless does not mean it can't swim if it needs to, and it does not need webbed feet to swim.


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techstepgenr8tion
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07 Jun 2020, 7:22 pm

Mountain Goat wrote:
Just because a bird is flightless does not mean it can't swim if it needs to, and it does not need webbed feet to swim.

So here's hoping that the scientific community actually rules out the blatantly obvious before making statements like this, not only about rails but other species.


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07 Jun 2020, 7:41 pm

? reincarnation of a extinct species ? " i'll be back" The Terminator ....lolz....


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08 Jun 2020, 4:40 am

Mountain Goat wrote:
Just because a bird is flightless does not mean it can't swim if it needs to, and it does not need webbed feet to swim.


Could a duck swim the English Channel? Could a chicken swim the English Channel? Could either swim 8 times the width of the English Channel? I dunno. Maybe.

The island of Aldabra is almost 200 miles north of the mainland (the mainland being the ginormous island of Madagascar) where its parent species, the white throated rail, lives. The flightless Aldabra birds would have to swim this 200 miles of salt water ocean- without webbed feat while the ocean currents of the waters go the opposite way to the north into the open Indian ocean. Then there would have to be enough of them to reach Madagascar to colonize the shore of Madagascar with a breeding population. Then they would have to survive competition on the mainland with their flyable cousins on the mainland for several thousand years. And then when the small island reappears-some from this flightless colony would have swim back across the almost 200 miles of ocean to the small island again to recolonize it. Hard to imagine.