"Like Finding a Unicorn"

The Black-Naped Pheasant-Pigeon has been photographed!

Although seen by local villagers (its local name is Auwo), who guided researchers in their camera placements, the species had not been documented formally since 1882 when it was first described, 140 years ago.

A quote from this article:

“To find something that’s been gone for that long, that you’re thinking is almost extinct, and then to figure out that it’s not extinct, it feels like finding a unicorn or a Bigfoot,” says John C. Mittermeier, director of the lost birds program at American Bird Conservancy and a co-leader of the eight-member expedition. “It’s extraordinarily unusual.”

What extinct, believed to be extinct in the wild, or species that has not been documented in the wild in an extraordinary long time species would be your dream, your “unicorn”?

(I would love to say a Mexican Grizzly (Oso plateado), which had silvery fur, but those were so large that they just seem extraordinarily unlikely to reemerge.)



I’ve told this story before and I’m happy to tell it again. This is the unicorn I never knew existed until it fell into my lap. Wedge-shaped beetles, family Ripiphoridae, are generally poorly known, uncommon, and “differ in their choice of hosts, but most attack various species of bees or wasps, while some others attack cockroaches or beetles.” The genus Ripiphorus, in particular, has many rarely seen species in North America and only two major publications in the last 100 years. Ripiphorus neomexicanus was described from two Albuquerque specimens in 1921 and a third sometime before 1929 (screenshot from Memoirs of the American Entomological Society 1929). From my research, the encounter in 2021 (link above) is the first sighting of the species in New Mexico since it was collected 100 years prior.

For something I haven’t seen, Penstemon galloensis is probably a weird (blue) color morph of Penstemon barbatus, but it could be a rare Mexican endemic that no one has found in 35 years.


Just want to note it’s a subspecies, not a species as the article claims.

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You can see the P. galloensis as collected by Hinton here: http://unibio.unam.mx/irekani/handle/123456789/16986?proyecto=Irekani

(It is part of UNAM’s collection.)

And that is a FANTASTIC story and I thank you for sharing it.

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From the same article:

It’s one of four pheasant-pigeon species found around New Guinea, and lives only on Fergusson Island. (Some authorities consider the four varieties to be subspecies.)

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We rediscovered the Shelta Cave Crayfish (Orconectes sheltae) - but really it should be Cambarus sheltae - if you want to read all about it in the published peer-review paper here. Been “missing” for over 30 years and was presumed extinct as it is a single-cave endemic. Even better…one adult male and one adult female was found so the species has a chance…


Wouldn’t call Clements list “some authorities”, but thank you, I missed that part.

Only a subspecies, but Dusky Seaside Sparrows. I work with some threatened marshbirds at some of the very same locations/habitats where the last Duskys were captured as part of a too-late captive breeding effort.


That is awesome! They remind me of the small clear fish that are in the cenotes here. (I wish I knew the name to tell you.)

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And here’s a clam that evaded detection for quite a while

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It’s so delicate looking, which is not usually how I think of clams. Thank you for the article link; I’d never heard of “lazarus species” before.

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Terrible news for the Black-Naped Pheasant Pigeon

From Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

But conservationists are concerned. The principal landowner where the bird was found told the search team he’d just signed a deal with a logging company – a move that could threaten the black-naped pheasant pigeon and its habitat.

Also, from the same article:

The researchers think it would likely sound similar to a different pheasant pigeon species on mainland Papua New Guinea – a sound locals compare to the despairing cry of a woman ostracized by her community.

Which description I love madly even as it sounds a haunting cry.

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So hard to narrow it down, because any of the 7 to 9 extinct genera of Hawaiian honeycreepers would do this for me; but of these, two genera in particular stand out to me: the Akialoa (Genus Akialoa, of which four species were known within historic times) and the Koa-finches (Genus Rhodacanthis, of which two were known in historic times).

Then again, it would be equally exciting to have rediscovered the Raiatea Parakeet (Cyanoramphus ulietanus) or any of the lost macaws of the Caribbean.

I suppose you can tell that I have a thing for island-endemic birds.


I think that is lovely and I hope the reemergence of this species has brought you a glimmer of hope that within your lifetime some of the others you hope to see might reemerge as well, maybe even for your eyes.

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Here’s another one https://www.zmescience.com/science/bird-species-re-discovered-after-almost-200-years-of-absence/

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