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Tiny flightless birds (was Re: Cretaceous taeniodont)
On 7/4/04 2:49 pm, "Phil Bigelow" <email@example.com> wrote:
> On the other hand, how many shrew-sized flightless birds (fossil or
> living) can we name?
Not quite shrew-sized, but sparrow-sized or smaller - flightlessness evolved
a couple of times in the endemic New Zealand Acanthisittidae. Subfossils
_Pachyplichas yaldwyni_ (the stout-legged wren) and _Dendroscansor
decurvirostris_ (the curve-billed wren) both had next to no wings. Another
acanthisittid, _Traversia lyalli_ (the Stephens Island wren), is often
described as flightless, but IIRC the only person to see it alive before it
caught a case of terminal feline did actually note it flying at least once -
they just didn't like to push themselves.
There is also another case of a flightless passeriform from Sao Tome or
some other such backwater. Details are in T. H. Worthy and Holdaway's "The
Lost World of the Moa".
Both these cases are from islands that lacked mammals before human
discovery, and the arrival of rodents etc. spelt instant doom.