Scientists spent 40 years searching for a bird that never existed

Properly, that is awkward: For nearly the previous 4 many years, an extremely uncommon species of songbird has eluded birdwatchers and scientists and surveys to study extra about it have come up empty-handed. The extremely irritating, fruitless seek for the Liberian Greenbul gave researchers nightmares because it was first recognized and cataloged within the early Nineteen Eighties, however those that have spent their time looking for the uncommon hen simply obtained some brutal information: It by no means even existed within the first place.

The saga began when researchers noticed what they believed to be a completely undocumented species of songbird in Liberia. It seemed quite a bit like Icterine Greenbul, although it had distinctive white markings on particular areas of its feathered physique. They named their new fowl the Liberian Greenbul and set about studying extra about it. That proved extremely troublesome.

Just one specimen was obtained, after being shot and subsequent makes an attempt to seek out the odd birds turned up solely a handful of shaky sighting stories. With so few of them round, scientists caught the Liberian Greenbul on the endangered species record, marking it as critically endangered. Liberia’s bloody civil struggle and lengthy historical past of battle made searching the birds down much more troublesome.

That’s, till now, when scientists from the College of Aberdeen revealed the birds’ true nature. After operating a DNA evaluation on the one confirmed Liberian Greenbul specimen, the researchers found that its genetics are virtually equivalent to that of the Icterine Greenbul. Evaluating the DNA of the birds to that of different recognized Greenbul species reveals big variations and that may be a massive pink flag that the Icterine Greenbul and Liberian Greenbul are literally the very same hen.

The researchers theorize that the odd feather sample might have been brought on by a dietary deficiency whereas the feathers have been rising in, which means that the extremely uncommon, critically endangered songbird is definitely simply an ailing model of a fowl they’ve recognized about for for much longer.

“We will’t say definitively that the Liberian Greenbul is identical fowl because the Iceterine Greenbul however we now have introduced sufficient proof that makes some other rationalization appear extremely unlikely,” Professor Martin Collinson of the College of Aberdeen’s Institute of Medical Sciences stated. “The genetic work was carried out independently by scientists right here in Aberdeen and in Dresden to ensure there might be no error – we each got here to the identical…

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