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Re: Takahe (Rare Flightless New Zealand Bird) on the come-back.

At 02:00 +0800 12/7/98, B. Choo wrote:
>>Its closes living relative is the Pukeko.  The Pukeko is a purple looking
>>moor/swamp hen type thing.  I've never heard one called an alpine rail
>>I've put a jpeg of pukekos up at http://url.co.nz/derek/pukeko.jpg if
>>anyone wants to do a comparison.
>Note that the Pukeko IS the common Purple Swamphen (Porhyrio porphyrio). To
>be more specific it is the Maori name for the local form of this widespread
>rail (P. p. melanotus).

Yes, they apparently arrived here quite recently from Australia - possibly
as recently as 1000 years - they do not appear in the subfossil record.

Intruigingly the behaviour of the two birds is very similar (ignoring
for the moment the fact that the Takahe is twice as big, lays fewer eggs
and can't fly).  They have similar mating and socialisation behaviours and
similar warning cries.  The Takahe however have no warning cries or behaviour
for avoidance of terrestrial predators - they simply don't run away.

It has been suggested that hand reared Takahe should be fostered with
Pukeko, who will teach them warning cries and also the Pukeko technique
whereby several birds mob the attacker while the another birds leads
the chicks away from danger.

This leads onto the discussion of bringing recently extinct animals
back through genetic means.  Obviously the actual social behaviour of
the creatures cannot be recreated, but in many cases the social
behaviour of recent relatives may be similar enough that they can
learn survival skills from them.  Mammoths could be fostered with
Elephants for instance, it would be a start anyway.  For some still
endangered species which have only survived in captivity similar
techniques will be necessary anyway if they are to be released into
the wild.  By the time it is possible to ressurect species from their
DNA this issue will hopefully have been addressed several times.

If it hasn't then there is probably nowhere left to release the new
creatures anyway.

--- Derek

Derek Tearne.   ---   @URL Internet Consultants  ---  http://url.co.nz
Some of the more environmentally aware dinosaurs were worried about the
consequences of an accident with the new Iridium enriched fusion reactor.
"If it goes off only the cockroaches and mammals will survive..." they said.