The Galápagos Islands situated in the Pacific Ocean are renowned for their abundance in wildlife and diversity. To add to this fascinating region, researchers have recently identified a new bird to the Islands’ long list of exotic creatures: the San Cristóbal Island Vermilion Flycatcher.
Unfortunately, this addition is overshadowed by another thing that researchers have dug up: these birds are actually already extinct!
These little birds were first thought to have been extinct way back in 1987. But after researchers went into archives and historical collections in the California Academy of Sciences, the existence of these Vermilion Flycatchers have resurfaced and were revealed.
In fact, these birds were even supposed to be grouped into their own species (Pyrocephalus nanus and Pyrocephalus dubius) after the scientists also analyzed their genetic make-up.
But alas! The said bird species is now dubbed as the first modern-day extinction (for birds) in the Galápagos Islands.
It is still unclear though, as to the reason for the birds’ extinction, but it is implicated that the first and early rats introduced into the islands had something to do with it. These rats were observed to have climbed and invaded the nests of these birds and ate the eggs that they found. Not only this, but there is also the problem of a parasitic fly’s larvae that killed and fed on the young and developing nestlings as well.
According to Jack Dumbacher, co-author of this study conducted and published under the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, “A species of bird that may be extinct in the Galápagos is a big deal, and this marks an important landmark for conservation in the Galápagos, and a call to arms to understand why these birds have declined.”