A goldmine of New Zealand’s prehistoric natural history has just yielded two more long-lost native species – tiny flightless rails.
Scientists discovered fossil bones of what have just been described as two new species of rail near St Bathans in Central Otago, where many other ancient specimens have been unearthed previously.
Canterbury Museum’s curator of natural history and study co-author, Dr Paul Scofield, said the new St Bathans rails join a host of other fossil birds recovered from these deposits that show New Zealand has long been a land of birds.
“The discovery of these two minuscule flightless rails raises the question, ‘Where did they come from?'” Schofield said.
“The new species are unlike any rail known elsewhere so their exact origin or closest relatives remain a mystery.”