NewsNew Species of Colorful Birds Discovered in Indonesia

New Species of Colorful Birds Discovered in Indonesia

Created: 10/30/2022 7:21 am

A male Wakatobi sunbird (Cinnyris infrenatus). © Nicola Marples, David Kelly/Trinity College Dublin/dpa

At a time when more and more animal species are threatened with extinction, there is good news from Indonesia: Zoologists have discovered new, colorful bird species on remote islands.

Jakarta/Dublin – Scientists have discovered several new species of tropical sunbirds on remote islands in Indonesia.

Zoologists from Trinity College Dublin, working with an Indonesian team of researchers, have identified, among others, the previously unknown “Wakatobi sunbird” (Cinnyris infrenatus) with its bright blue and yellow breast, which lives on the Wakatobi archipelago east of Sulawesi. That’s according to a new study published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

“The Wakatobi Islands are recognized as an Important Bird Area, but despite their importance, they received little ornithological attention until recently, the study says. Lead author Fionn Ó Marcaigh said: “Small, isolated islands like these have their own evolutionary processes and these often produce unique species, as in the famous case of the Galápagos Islands.”

Previously unknown species

The researchers also examined specimens previously thought to be green-backed sunbirds (Cinnyris jugularis) and silken sunbirds (Leptocoma sericea). They found out that individual individuals belong to previously unknown species. Thus, green-backed sunbirds, for example, represent a superspecies that must be divided into at least four species, according to the study. “These exciting findings have important implications for our understanding of evolution in this biodiverse region,” it said.

Sunbirds – or sunbirds in English – live in the tropics from Africa to Australia. They resemble the American hummingbirds. Male sunbirds often have bright plumage with iridescent and metallic feathers that gleam in the sunlight. The plumage of these animals has been studied by zoologists for hundreds of years to name species, the authors said. About 140 species are currently recognized.

The study has now taken into account, among other things, the DNA, song recordings as well as body dimensions and wing lengths – and has shown that the family of sunbirds is far more diverse than previously thought. “It is amazing that in this region (…) there are still species waiting to be discovered,” said Ó Marcaigh. “I am thrilled that we have expanded the list of known species from this wonderful part of the world.” dpa

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