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TAKAHE & MOHO
Takahe are here again. Matt Troutman wrote...
> Interestingly, _P. mantelli_ was originally a fossil species
> by Richard Owen from a fossil skull and was named Notornis
> mantelli. Later, a live _"N". mantelli_ was found, and
> recently it was sunk down into Porphyrio.
The situation with the flightless New Zealand species of _Porphyrio_
has turned out to be more complicated than that, and there are
actually two distinct species, apparently derived from different
volant ancestors. There is no evidence that the two are closer to
each other than either is to _P. porphyrio_, so there is no
justification for a monophyletic _Notornis_ (nor are either really
different enough to deserve their own genus, but clearly this is
However, _P. mantelli_ Owen - the Moho of North Island
(confusingly, both North and South Island flightless _Porphyrio_
have been referred to as Takahe) - is extinct, and known only from
fossils. Phillipps (1959 I think) referred to a sighting of a rallid
made on North Island in 1894, and it has been suggested that this was
a live _P. mantelli_. This sounds like cryptozoology to me, but
Trewick (1996) took it seriously enough to mention it in his paper.
Distinct from _P. mantelli_ is _P. hochstetteri_ Meyer, the extant
South Island bird we recognise as the Takahe. Things are actually
more complicated than I have indicated here, and both species have a
long and confusing nomenclatural history. It is all sorted out in
Trewick's 1996 paper, published in _Journal of Zoology_ 238: 221-237.
"But I hate football Stu. It's rubbish"