|[A] Coturnix lignorum, [B] C. alabrevis & [C] C. centensis |
Rando, Alcover, Pieper, Olson, Hernández & López-Jurado. 2020.
Artwork by Pau Oliver.
The original bird fauna of most oceanic islands has been affected by recent extinction processes associated with human arrival and its subsequent impacts. In the volcanic Macaronesian archipelagos (Azores, Madeira, Selvagens, Canary Islands and Cape Verde), in the North Atlantic, the Late Quaternary fossil record indicates that there was formerly a higher avian diversity, including a high number of now extinct endemic species. This assemblage of extinct birds includes endemic insular quails (Galliformes: Phasianidae). In this study, we describe three newly discovered extinct species of quails, two of which inhabited the archipelago of Madeira (Coturnix lignorum sp. nov. from Madeira Island and Coturnix alabrevis sp. nov. from Porto Santo Island) and one from Cape Verde (Coturnix centensis sp. nov.). The fossil record also indicates the presence of additional species of extinct endemic quails on other Macaronesian islands. These birds plus the extinct Canary Island quail (Coturnix gomerae) indicate a high former endemic diversity of this genus in Macaronesia, a feature unique among oceanic archipelagos. Anatomical traits show that the new taxa were flightless ground dwellers, making them vulnerable to human interference, with their extinction being linked to human arrival and subsequent habitat alterations and the introduction of invasive species.
Keywords: anatomy, extinction, fossil birds, island biogeography, morphometrics, Quaternary
Galliformes Temminck, 1820
Phasianidae Horsfield, 1821
Coturnix Garsault, 1764
|Figure 1. Map of the Macaronesian Islands. Silhouettes indicate specimen records discussed in this paper: (1) Coturnix lignorum; (2) Coturnix alabrevis; (3) Coturnix centensis; (4) C. gomerae; and (5–7) Coturnix sp.|
Coturnix lignorum Rando, Alcover, Pieper, Olson, Hernández & López-Jurado sp. nov.
Etymology: The specific name lignorum is derived from from the Latin genitive plural of lignum, wood, a direct translation of the Portuguese madeira.
Coturnix alabrevis Rando, Alcover, Pieper, Olson, Hernández & López-Jurado sp. nov.
Etymology: From Latin ala, wing, and brevis, short, in reference to the small size of the forelimb (wing) bones.
Coturnix centensis Rando, Alcover, Pieper, Olson, Hernández & López-Jurado sp. nov.
Etymology: In the Portuguese-based creole language spoken in Cape Verde, the island of São Vicente is called ‘Son Cent'. We based our epithet on this, adding the Latin locative suffix -ensis.
Juan C. Rando, Josep A. Alcover, Harald Pieper, Storrs L. Olson, C. Nayra Hernández and L. Felipe López-Jurado. 2020. Unforeseen Diversity of Quails (Galliformes: Phasianidae: Coturnix) in Oceanic Islands provided by the Fossil Record of Macaronesia. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 188(4); 1296–1317. DOI: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlz107