New Bulbul Species Discovered

November 24, 2010 by  
Filed under News

We often assume that we know all there is to know about our world. Even though there are behavioral patterns and various other mysteries surrounding some of the animal and bird species on our planet, we tend to assume that mankind has discovered just about every creature and insect that shares our world. When the news broke that a new bird species had been discovered, it made headlines, as it is not every day that a species appears that no-one was aware of.

The Minerals and Metals Group that operates in the Loas region of Asia, funds a project that employs conservationists and scientist such as Iain Woxvold (University of Melbourne), Rob Timmins and Will Duckworth, who are part of the Wildlife Conservation Society. While working in this region, these three men discovered the new bird species, which has now been named the Bare-faced Bulbul (Pycnonotus hualon).

This unusual little bird is not only unique in its features, but is also a songbird, and due to its ability to adapt to unihabitable areas, it is no surprise that it has been able to remain undiscovered for so long. It is also the first time in approximately a hundred years that a new bird species has been identified in Asia, making this a memorable moment for the scientists, the conservation organisations of Asia and for the region as a whole. The new species was found in the desolate karst limestone landscapes, which are located in the lowlands of the area and consist of sparse trees and not much else. The bare-faced bulbul is the size of a thrush, which is approximately twenty centimeters, and has beautiful olive green plumage that covers its back. It has off-white feathers over its chest and has large dark eyes set in its bald head that is pinkish in color.

Iain Woxvold explained the reasoning behind the new species remaining undiscovered for so long by saying: “Its apparent restriction to rather inhospitable habitat helps to explain why such an extraordinary bird with conspicuous habits and a distinctive call has remained unnoticed for so long.” Asia Programs, part of the New York Wildlife Conservation Society, assistant director Peter Clyne expressed his excitement in regard to the discovery, acknowledging that finding new bird species is an extremely rare event, and due to new species not being found every year, the unveiling of the bald-faced bulbul is most certainly a newsworthy discovery.

Unique Birds of the Philippines

November 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

There is a good chance that the Philippines might have to change their conservation efforts when it comes to bird species. If the studies performed by Dr. David Lohman are correct, the Philippines could have more unique bird species than previously thought, and this would most certainly force the Philippine authorities to become stricter in regard to conserving these extraordinary birds. According to Dr. Lohman, it is one of the areas in the world that is overflowing with biodiversity and is astonishing in every way.

Over seven thousand islands make up the Philippines, and its wildlife is considered to be truly unique. Almost seventy-seven percent of the amphibians on the islands and sixty-four percent of the land mammals cannot be seen or found anywhere else in the world. When it comes to the bird life on the islands, it was believed that only thirty-one percent of the birds in the Philippines were endemic. Professor David Lohman then took it upon himself to begin a study to find out if some of the bird fauna could deliver distinct bird species that have not been recognized before. He decided to concentrate mainly on seven perching bird species, and by following the genetic lineages of these species, Professor Lohman has been able to determine a distinct history in regard to these bird species. In previous years, taxonomists would identify bird species through the color of their plumage and various markings found on birds, but Professor Lohman has pointed out that this form of identification is not accurate enough, saying: “Those features are not ideal, since closely related but distinct species can look similar.”

Due to the distance between the Philippines and the Asian mainland, it is believed that contact between mainland birds and those on the islands would be minimal, if none at all. By following the evolution of the bird species, Professor Lohman has found that a great number of Philippine populations were unique and not found in various Southeast Asia regions. “These unique genetic lineages were unknown before, however, our research hasn’t gone far enough to say these are new species”, explained Lohman, continuing by adding that “more rigorous analysis of the morphology may be needed to make that determination.”