Bird extinct thousands of years ago returned to life thanks to iterative evolution

Research conducted by scientists at the University of Portsmouth shows that a bird that died out 136,000 years ago “came back to life” thanks to an evolutionary process called “iterative evolution.”

This is the first time that this phenomenon, which basically consists of repeated evolution of an animal developing the same physical and morphological structures in different historical and separate periods, is observed, and in general, is one of the most significant in terms of the same evolutionary history of birds.

Specifically, scientists have analyzed the White-throated rail, a bird the size of a chicken native to Madagascar. These birds used to migrate from Madagascar to other regions even far away.

In the past, specimens of this species migrated westward to Africa. Here they became extinct because of predators who ate them all. Those that migrated eastwards landed on relatively isolated islands such as Mauritius, Reunion and Aldabra (the latter is a coral atoll).

On this atoll, with the absence of predators, these birds evolved and lost the ability to fly. In any case, at a certain point in time the atoll disappeared and was temporarily, for a few thousand years, covered by the sea, decreeing the disappearance of all the terrestrial animals on it.

While studying various fossil evidence dating back to more than 100,000 years ago, the researchers have discovered that this species native to Madagascar recolonized, at least one more time, this atoll. Again, this bird developed evolutionistically, acquiring the same traits, among which the inability to fly, resisting until today.

This means that two different species of Cuvier’s ralli in the Aldabra atoll have originated in the course of a few thousand years, both very similar, which makes us think of the phenomenon of iterative evolution.

Alfredo Gonsalez

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