Inaccessible Island rail

Inaccessible Island rail
Inaccessible Island Rail (Atlantisia rogersi).jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Laterallus
Species:
L. rogersi
Binomial name
Laterallus rogersi
(Lowe, 1923)
Tristan Map.png
Inaccessible Island in the Tristan Archipelago
Synonyms[3]
  • Atlantisia rogersi Lowe, 1923[2]

The Inaccessible Island rail (Laterallus rogersi) is a small bird of the rail family, Rallidae. Endemic to Inaccessible Island in the Tristan Archipelago in the isolated south Atlantic, it is the smallest extant flightless bird in the world. The species was described by physician Percy Lowe in 1923 but had first come to the attention of scientists 50 years earlier. The Inaccessible Island rail's affinities and origin were a long-standing mystery; in 2018 its closest relative was identified as the South American dot-winged crake (Porzana spiloptera), and it was proposed that both species should be nested within the genus Laterallus.[3][4][5]

A small species, the Inaccessible Island rail has brown plumage, black bill and feet, and adults have a red eye. It occupies most habitats on Inaccessible Island, from the beaches to the central plateau, feeding on a variety of small invertebrates and also some plant matter. Pairs are territorial and monogamous, with both parents being responsible for incubating the eggs and raising the chicks. Its adaptations to living on a tiny island at high densities include low base metabolic rates, small clutch sizes, and flightlessness.

Unlike many other oceanic islands, Inaccessible Island has remained free from introduced predators, allowing this species to flourish while many other flightless birds, particularly flightless rails, have gone extinct. The species is nevertheless considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), due to its single small population, which would be threatened by the accidental introduction of mammalian predators such as rats or cats.[4]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Atlantisia rogersi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22692556A93358821. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference Description was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ a b Stervander, Martin; Ryan, Peter G.; Melo, Martim; Hansson, Bengt (2019). "The origin of the world's smallest flightless bird, the Inaccessible Island Rail Atlantisia rogersi (Aves: Rallidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 130: 92–98. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2018.10.007. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 30321695.
  4. ^ a b Laskow, Sarah (2 November 2018). "How Did the World's Smallest Flightless Bird Get to Inaccessible Island? The first scientists to describe the animal thought it might have walked". Atlas Obscura. Pocket worthy Stories to fuel your mind. Retrieved 14 June 2020. On this one tiny island, there is a thriving population of thousands of what we’ll now call Laterallus rogersi, but they are considered vulnerable to extinction.
  5. ^ Ripley, Sidney Dillon; Lansdowne, James Fenwick, illustrator; Olson, Storrs L. (1977). Rails of the World: A Monograph of the Family Rallidae (Print). Toronto: M. F. Feheley. pp. 140–142. ISBN 9780919880078.