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[darren.naish@port.ac.uk: Broad-billed parrots: flightless or not?]



I shouldn't be doing this ...

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Delivery-date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 09:49:02 +0100
From: "Darren Naish" <darren.naish@port.ac.uk>
Organization: University of Portsmouth
To: mike@miketaylor.org.uk
Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 08:48:48 +0100
Subject: Broad-billed parrots: flightless or not?
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In a desperate effort to burn away what little spare time I 
have, please fwd the following to DML. I don't think 
anyone else 'properly' answered the question.

- -------------------------------
Ian Paulsen wrote...

- -----------------------
I was wondering if anyone knows if the above extinct parrot 
was flightless or not? The info I have seen says both 
flightless and could fly.
- -----------------------

The real :) answer to the question is somewhat complex, in 
that parrot experts have been divided over the answer. 
Hachisuka (1953), Holyoak (1971) and others assumed 
flightlessness on the basis of the sketch provided by 
Newton & Newton (1876) where short wings were depicted. 
But Hume (2003) was able to show that the original 
drawing reveals longer wings - and wings long enough to, 
theoretically, enable the bird to fly. The osteology also 
indicates a flight ability, plus there are illustrations showing 
the birds in flight (see Hume 2003).

So, despite contentions that _Lophopsittacus_ was kakapo-
like (and, in any case, kakapos aren't completely flightless), 
the evidence does not favour flightlessness. I say all of this 
with an illegally borrowed copy of Julian Hume's phd thesis 
to hand: it includes tons of new data on Mascarene parrots, 
most of which will see publication soon. 

Refs - - 

Hachisuka, M. 1953. _The Dodo and Kindred Birds or the 
Extinct Birds of the Mascarene Islands_. H. F. & G. 
Witherby (London), pp. 250.

Holyoak, D. 1971. Comments on the extinct parrot 
_Lophopsittacus mauritianus_. _Ardea_ 59, 50-51.

Hume, J. P. 2003. The journal of the flagship Gelderland √ 
dodo and other birds on Mauritius 1601. _Archives of 
Natural History_ 30, 13-27.

Newton, A. & Newton, E. 1876. On the Psittaci of the 
Mascarene Islands. _Ibis_ (series 3) 6, 281-289.

- -- 
Darren Naish
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Burnaby Building, Burnaby Rd
University of Portsmouth 
Portsmouth, UK, PO1 3QL

email: darren.naish@port.ac.uk
[send large attachments to: eotyrannus@gmail.com]
blog at: http://darrennaish.blogspot.com/
tel: 023 92846045
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