Lyall's wren or the Stephens Island wren was a small flightless passerine belonging to the family Acanthisittidae, the New Zealand wrens. It was once found throughout New Zealand, but when it came to the attention of scientists in 1894 its last refuge was Stephens Island in Cook Strait. Claimed to be a species discovered and driven extinct by a single creature, the wren in fact fell victim to the island's numerous feral cats; the wren was described simultaneously by both Walter Rothschild and Walter Buller. It became extinct shortly after; the bird's scientific name commemorates the assistant lighthouse keeper, David Lyall, who first brought the bird to the attention of science. It was described as a distinct genus, Traversia, in honour of naturalist and curio dealer Henry H. Travers who procured many specimens from Lyall. Traversia is a member of the family Acanthisittidae, or New Zealand wrens – which are not wrens but a similar-looking lineage of passerines, originating in the Oligocene, the sister group to all other songbirds.
DNA analysis has confirmed that T. lyalli, the only member of its genus, is the oldest and most distinct lineage in the Acanthisittidae. Lyall's wren had olive-brown plumage with a yellow stripe through the eye, its underside was grey in females and brownish-yellow in males and its body feathers were edged with brown. Most distinctively, Lyall's wren was flightless, with a reduced keel on its breastbone and short rounded wings, it is the best known of the four flightless passerines known to science, all of which were inhabitants of islands and are now extinct. The others were two other New Zealand wrens and the long-legged bunting from Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, all of which were only discovered as fossils and became extinct in prehistoric times. Living Lyall's wrens were seen only twice; the lighthouse keeper described the ‘rock wren’, as he called it, as nocturnal, “running around the rocks like a mouse and so quick in its movements that he could not get near enough to hit it with a stick or stone.”
Lyall's wren was found only on Stephens Island. Prehistorically, it had been widespread throughout New Zealand before the land was settled by the Māori, its bones can be found in deposits left by laughing owls on both main islands. Its disappearance from the mainland was due to predation by the Polynesian rat or kiore, introduced by the Māori; the presence of a flightless bird on an island 3.2 km from the mainland, along with Hamilton's frog, which can be killed by exposure to salt water, may seem puzzling, but Stephens Island was connected to the rest of New Zealand during the last glaciation when sea levels were lower. Much of what is assumed to be established knowledge about this species' extinction is either wrong or has been misinterpreted, starting with the account by Rothschild who claimed that a single cat had killed all of the birds; the research of Galbreath and Brown and Medway has uncovered much of the actual history of the bird during the short time that it was known to researchers.
1879 Early June?: A track to the site of the proposed lighthouse site is cleared, starting the period of human activity on the island. 1881 22 February: Marine Engineer John R. Blackett surveys the site for the proposed lighthouse. 1891 April: Preparations for the construction of the lighthouse are begun by starting to build a tramway and a landing site for boats. 1892 April: Clearance of land for the lighthouse and the associated farm begins. The first report of the species was a note on the island's birdlife made by the construction worker F. W. Ingram, which mentions "two kinds of wren". 1894 29 January: The lighthouse commences working. 17–20 February?: This is a date for introduction of cats to Stephens Island. What can be said with any certainty is that at some time in early 1894, a pregnant cat brought to the island escaped. June?: A cat starts to bring carcasses of a species of small bird to the lighthouse keepers' housings. Lyall, interested in natural history, has one taken to Walter Buller by A. W. Bethune, second engineer on the government steamboat NZGSS Hinemoa.
Before 25 July?: The specimen reaches Buller, who at once recognises it as distinct species and prepares a scientific description, to be published in the journal Ibis. Bethune lends Buller the specimen so it can be sent to London for the famed artist John Gerrard Keulemans to make a lithograph plate to accompany the description. Winter – early spring: Lyall finds several more specimens, he tells Buller about two more, sells nine to Travers. 9 October: Travers, who recognizes the commercial value of the birds, sidelines Buller and offers the birds to Walter Rothschild, wealthier and thus more to pay a high price, further piqueing Rothschild's interest by writing, "in a short time there will be left". Rothschild acquires his nine specimens. 11/12 October: Edward Lukins makes a list of birds on Stephens Island. 19 December: Rothschild has prepared a description of the bird, as Traversia lyalli, read by Ernst Hartert at the British Ornithologists' Club meeting. Philip Sclater, the Club's president and editor of the Ibis who knows of Buller's article in preparation, brings up the matter to Hartert, who says he cannot withdraw Rothschild's description without consent.
29 December: Rothschild's descripti
New Zealand quail
The New Zealand quail, or koreke, has been extinct since 1875. The male and female were similar; the first scientist to describe it was Sir Joseph Banks when he visited New Zealand on James Cook's first voyage. Terrestrial and temperate, this species inhabited lowland tussock open fernlands; the first specimen to be obtained by a European was collected in 1827 by Jean René Constant Quoy and Joseph Paul Gaimard on Dumont D'Urville's voyage. Research was conducted between 2007 and 2009 into whether the quails on Tiritiri Matangi Island –, spared the worst impact of introduced predators – might be a surviving population of this species, or koreke-brown quail hybrids. However, a genetic study showed instead that the quail on Tiritiri Matangi are Australian brown quail, Coturnix ypsilophora. Sequences were derived for all quail species within the Australian and New Zealand Coturnix sp. complex. It has sometimes been considered conspecific with the Australian stubble quail Coturnix pectoralis, which would be named Coturnix novaezelandiae pectoralis as the New Zealand bird was described first.
However, the genetic analysis showed that they are separate though related species. Koreke, the New Zealand Quail. 3D view of specimens RMNH RMNH 110.052 at Naturalis, Leiden. New Zealand Quail / Koreke. Coturnix novaezelandiae. By Paul Martinson. Artwork produced for the book Extinct Birds of New Zealand, by Alan Tennyson, Te Papa Press, Wellington, 2006 The Quail Coturnix Novae Zealandie by Johannes Keulemans in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa New Zealand Quail by George Lodge, 1913 in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
North Island snipe
The North Island snipe known as the little barrier snipe or tutukiwi, is an extinct species of bird in the sandpiper family, endemic to New Zealand. Examination of the taxonomy of Coenocorypha snipe has been hindered by lack of material, erroneous locality data, misidentified specimens and confused nomenclature; the North Island snipe was described in 1955 by Walter Oliver as a subspecies of the Subantarctic snipe, but has since been elevated to a full species, with fossil material from the North Island referred to it. The specific epithet and older common name refer to the type locality; the North Island snipe is extinct. Its prehistoric distribution comprised the North Island where subfossil remains have been found in several places, it became extinct on the mainland of North Island following the occupation of New Zealand by Polynesians and the associated introduction of Pacific rats. It survived on at least one small island, Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf, until 1870 where the type specimen was taken.
According to Oliver, “About 1870 two snipe were seen on Little Barrier Island by Captain Bennett of the schooner Mary Ann. One was captured alive but died in captivity, the other escaped; the captured specimen was presented to the Auckland Museum by Mr T. B. Hill and is the basis of the following account.” Oliver described the North Island snipe as being similar to other Coenocorypha snipes. He added that it differed from the South Island snipe in the “greater area of buffy white on chin and throat, the absence of bars on the lower abdomen, the crescent-shaped markings on the upper abdomen and the less rufous general coloration”. Baker, Allan J.. "Species limits and population differentiation in New Zealand snipes". Conservation Genetics. 11: 1363–1374. Doi:10.1007/s10592-009-9965-2. Higgins, P. J.. J. J. F. Eds.. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 3:Snipe to Pigeons. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. Pp. 54–66. ISBN 0-19-553070-5. Miskelly, C. M.. "The identity of the Hakawai".
Notornis. 34: 95–116. Archived from the original on 2009-03-25. Oliver, W. R. B.. New Zealand Birds. Wellington: Reed. P. 275. ISBN 0-589-00851-X. Worthy, Trevor H.. "Taxonomy of North and South Island snipe, with analysis of a remarkable collection of snipe bones from Greymouth, New Zealand". New Zealand Journal of Zoology. 29: 231–244. Doi:10.1080/03014223.2002.9518307
North Island piopio
The North Island piopio was a passerine bird of the family Oriolidae. The North Island piopio is now considered to be extinct. For many years, the North Island piopio was considered to be conspecific with the South Island piopio, but the two are now regarded as two separate species due to their pronounced differences in external appearance and osteology. An alternate name for the North Island piopio is the North Island thrush; the North Island piopio was endemic to the North Island of New Zealand and was described by Walter Buller as being common in 1873, although only a few specimens were collected, it declined after that time. The last specimens were collected in 1900, or more in 1885/1886, by the 1960s only around 27 specimens remained in museums worldwide. Occasional sight records of people claiming to have seen the bird persisted until 1970, but the North Island piopio is now considered extinct, its last stronghold appears to have been the area that became the Whanganui National Park extending north-east to the Hauhungaroa Range west of Lake Taupo.
The introduction of foreign predatory mammals such as cats and rats to New Zealand's North Island is to blame for the North Island piopio's extinction, with habitat loss and predation by mustelids being significant from the 1880s onward. Bell, R. & Singleton, L.: A sighting of the Piopio or Native Thrush. Notornis 21: 268–269. PDF fulltext Buller, Walter L.: A history of the birds of New Zealand. Van Woorst, London Buller, Walter L.: A history of the birds of New Zealand 2. Published by the author, London. Medway, David G.: Records of the Huia, North Island Thrush and North Island Kokako from the diaries of Joseph Robert Annabell Notornis 15: 177–192. PDF fulltext Olsen, Malcolm: North Island Piopio – a possible 1930s record. Notornis 40: 26. PDF fulltext Olson, Storrs L.. Notornis 30: 319–336. PDF fulltext Schlegel, Hermann:. Nederlandsch Tijdschrift voor de Dierkunde 3: 190. Sopp, G. E.: North Island Native Thrush or Pio-Pio. Notornis 7: 101–102. PDF fulltext North Island Piopio. Turnagra tanagra. by Paul Martinson.
Artwork produced for the book Extinct Birds of New Zealand, by Alan Tennyson, Te Papa Press, Wellington, 2006
North Island takahē
The North Island takahē or mōho is an extinct rail, found in the North Island of New Zealand. This flightless species is known from subfossils from a number of archeological sites and from one possible 1894 record, it appeared to have been larger than the South Island takahē and, if it did survive until the 1890s, would have been the largest rail in historic times. The decline of the species has been attributed to the increasing incursion of forest into the alpine grasslands through the Holocene, although hunting by the Māori played a major role. Traditionally the North Island takahē was considered conspecific with the endangered South Island takahē P. hochstetteri. Trewick presented evidence that the two taxa were independently derived from flying ancestors, so proved to be separate species; the binomial of this bird commemorates civil servant Walter Mantell. Phillipps, W. J.: The Last Occurrence of Notornis in the North Island. Notornis 8: 93-94. Trewick, S. A.: Morphology and evolution of two takahe: flightless rails of New Zealand.
J. Zool. 238: 221-237. Worthy, Trevor H. & Holdaway R. N.: The lost world of the Moa: Prehistoric Life of New Zealand. Indiana University Press, Bloomington. ISBN 0-253-34034-9. North Island Takahe - BirdLife Species Factsheet
New Zealand greater short-tailed bat
The New Zealand greater short-tailed bat is one of two species of New Zealand short-tailed bats, a family unique to New Zealand. Larger than the New Zealand lesser short-tailed bat, there have been no confirmed sightings of this species since 1965 and it is considered to be critically endangered, if not extinct. In prehistoric times it lived in the North and South Islands but by the time of European arrival was restricted to small islands near Stewart Island/Rakiura, it is thought that a rat invasion of Taukihepa/Big South Cape Island in 1963 led to the species extinction. M. robusta was not considered to be separate from the New Zealand lesser short-tailed bat until 1962, when it was suggested as a subspecies. It was not recognized as a separate species within Mystacinidae until 1985, long after it was thought to have become extinct. Morphologically, M. robusta is larger than M. tuberculata with specimens of the former having a mean forearm length of 45.3-47.5mm as opposed to the latter, 40-45mm, which has larger ears that reach beyond the muzzle when pushed forward.
It is described as having a body length of 90 mm. Little is known about the biology of the species, since it was not recognized as a separate species until after it is believed to have become extinct. Edgar Stead made several observations, he described the species as always after dusk. At one point he found seven bats roosting in a tree cavity in a state of torpor. After capturing a few and putting them in a cage they crawled around on the floor, much like New Zealand lesser short-tailed bats are known to do; as well as roosting in tree cavities, it is known that they roosted in granite caves on Taukihepa/Big South Cape Island and Rerewhakaupoko/Solomon Island. The few existing photos show that this species had darker wings. Nothing is known about their natural diet; as a endangered member of an ancient evolutionary family, the species is accorded a high ranking on the EDGE list of mammals, sitting fourth. Sub-fossil evidence suggests that M. robusta was widespread throughout New Zealand until the arrival of the Polynesian rat/Kiore.
There are no records of this species from the North Island and South Island since the arrival of Europeans and it was restricted to several islands near Stewart island/Rakiura by this time. The only records from the twentieth century are from caves on Taukihepa/Big South Cape Island and Rerewhakaupoko/Solomon Island. Here it survived in the absence of rats until the 1960s; the last refuge of this species was Taukihepa/Big South Cape Island until ship rats were accidentally introduced in 1963. This rodent invasion decimated the bird life of the island, leading to the extinction of Stead's bush wren and Stewart Island snipe; the South Island saddleback was only saved by the translocation of 36 individuals to a nearby island. M. robusta, not recognized as a separate species at the time, was not considered a priority for conservation effort and is believed to have subsequently become extinct, last seen in 1965. More eyewitness reports of bats from Taukihepa/Big South Cape Island and nearby Putauhina Island have spurred new searches for this species.
In 1999 an expedition to the islands recorded unusual “mystacinid-like” echolocation calls on Putauhina Island but no bats were seen or caught on this or a subsequent expedition in 2009. As a result of this evidence the IUCN status of the species listed as extinct, has been changed to ‘critically endangered’ and the New Zealand threat classification is ‘data deficient’. Further searches are required to ascertain. Due to its imperiled status, it is identified by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as a species in danger of imminent extinction; the bat is among the 25 “most wanted lost” species that are the focus of Global Wildlife Conservation's “Search for Lost Species” initiative. A Gap in Nature by Tim Flannery and Peter Schouten, published by William Heinemann Short-tailed bats - http://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/bats-pekapeka/short-tailed-bat/ Greater short-tailed bat at TerraNature http://www.edgeofexistence.org/mammals/species_info.php?id=541 http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Mystacina_robusta/
The Chatham penguin or Warham penguin was a species of crested penguin, now extinct, endemic to the Chatham Islands east of mainland New Zealand. It is known only from subfossil bones, became extinct shortly after Polynesians arrived in the Chathams about 450 years ago. Bones of crested penguins have been recorded from subfossil deposits on main Chatham Island for some time, they had been identified as Fiordland penguin or erect-crested penguin, but Tennyson and Millener noted in 1994 they differed from both those species, represented a species of crested penguin endemic to the Chathams. It was referred to as the "Chatham Island crested penguin", but not named; as part of a study of the recent evolution of numerous penguin species, subfossil bones from Chatham Island and the mainland had mitochondrial DNA extracted and compared to other species of Eudyptes. The Chatham bones differed sufficiently in their DNA to support the penguin's identity as a distinct species, it was formally described in 2019 and named E. warhami, after John Warham, a pioneering researcher in penguin biology.
Based on a comparison of mitochondrial genomes, this species diverged from its closest relative, the erect-crested penguin of the Antipodes Islands, between 1.1 and 2.5 million years ago. This corresponds to the emergence of the Chatham Islands from the sea about 3 million years ago; the Chathams were settled by Polynesians around 1450 AD, E. warhami was hunted to extinction within 150–200 years along with many bird species and one species of sea lion. It was certainly extinct before Europeans arrived at the Chathams. There was a suggestion the species may have become extinct as as the late 19th century, because a crested penguin from the Chathams is recorded as being kept captive for several weeks around 1871 or 1872; the species was noted as "Eudyptes pachyrhynchus", a name used for E. sclateri and E. robustus at the time. Crested penguins are in fact regular annual, visitors to the Chathams, at least three species are recorded from there: Snares crested penguins, erect-crested penguins, rockhopper penguins, so the captured bird is one of these.
Bones of E. warhami have been identified from various subfossil and archaeological sites on mainland New Zealand, including the Wairarapa, Banks Peninsula and Paekakariki. These represent vagrant birds from the Chathams arriving on the mainland, not breeding populations. Amongst the subfossil Eudyptes bones from the Chathams were E. sclateri, which likely represent vagrants