This is the white-throated rail, a chicken-sized bird indigenous to Madagascar which, according to new research, had previously gone extinct but came to existence once again due to a rare process called “iterative evolution”.
The research, from the University of Portsmouth and Natural History Museum, found that on two occasions, separated by tens of thousands of years, a rail species was able to successfully colonise an isolated atoll called Aldabra and subsequently became flightless on both occasions. The last surviving colony of flightless rails is still found on the island today.
This is the first time that iterative evolution (the repeated evolution of similar or parallel structures from the same ancestor but at different times) has been seen in rails and one of the most significant in bird records.
(Image Credit: Charles J Sharp)