Last night I was finishing the first part of a series of posts about Lost and Extinct bird species when I saw this news on Neotropical Birds site:
“The Bogota Sunangel lived! – confirmed as valid species”
This small hummingbird is know only because a single specimen that was purchased on 1909 in Bogota. It was probably collected in the East Andes or Central Andes of Colombia, within a few hundred kilometers of the capital. Its true provenance is impossible to determine, however, as some ‘Bogotá’ trade-skins came from much further afield, at least as far away as Venezuela and Ecuador.
Until very recently they were discussions about his status as a species (see SACC prop. 57)
According to J. Kirchman et al.:
We use mtDNA sequence data to confirm that the controversial 100-year-old holotype of the Bogotá sunangel (Heliangelus zusii) represents a valid species. We demonstrate that H. zusii is genetically well differentiated from taxa previously hypothesized to have given rise to the specimen via hybridization. Phylogenetic analyses place H. zusii as sister to a clade of mid- to high-elevation Andean species currently placed in the genera Taphrolesbia and Aglaiocercus. Heliangelus zusii, presumed extinct, has never been observed in nature by biologists.
Although confirmed as a valid species, there seems to be little hope that the Bogota Sunangel survives. But there always is the possibility that it persists in some poorly explored portion of the Andes. Now, at least, field ornithologists have renewed reason to search for this mysterious bird. If we assume an ecological similarity to other sunangels, it should be looked for in humid Andean forest and well-developed shrublands between 1,500 and 3,400 m, especially in remote portions of the Colombian cordilleras.
More birds are waiting to be studied © Bill Lynch
Immediately started to think about all the other species that are preserved in museums waiting for someone to carefully study them and confirm their validity as species.
If you want to know more about other “Lost” birds don´t miss my new blog series starting this afternoon.
Kirchman, J., Christopher C. Witt, Jimmy A. McGuire, and Gary R. Graves (2009)
DNA from a 100-year-old holotype confirms the validity of a potentially extinct hummingbird species Biol Lett: rsbl.2009.0545v1-rsbl20090545
Graves, G. (1993) Relict of a Lost World: A new Species of Sunangel (TROCHILIDAE: Heliangelus) from Bogota. The Auk 110(1): 1-8.
All photos under Creative Commons License