Extinct means died out, wiped out, no more of them alive and never coming back – right? That’s what was said about the Myanmar Jerdon’s babbler, which was declared extinct after not having been seen since 1941. Last week, researchers confirmed that several adult Jerdon’s babblers were seen early last year. Could the dodo bird be found alive too? A video of what looks like a living specimen has a lot of people wondering and hoping.
The Myanmar Jerdon’s babbler (Chrysomma altirostre) was discovered by British naturalist T. C. Jerdon in 1862, when the sparrow-sized birds were common in the Ayeyarwady and Sittaung river floodplains. Farming and commercial development quickly wiped them out and the last confirmed sighting was in July 1941.
A team of ornithologists headed by Dr. Frank Rheindt from the National University of Singapore heard a call they recognized as a Jerdon’s babbler on May 30, 2014. Playing back a recording of the call, they sighted multiple adult birds and managed to take photographs and obtain blood samples which were subjected to DNA analysis that confirmed the babblers were back.
The evidence that the dodo bird (Raphus Cucullatus), extinct since 1681, could be alive is not quite as solid but still interesting. A night vision video recently uploaded to the Internet shows what appears to be a live dodo walking past an iguana. The big bird certainly resembles the paintings and models we’ve seen of the dodo. It’s hard to tell what the bird under the log is.
The video was taken by Abhiruchiji Blause in Costa Rica. OK, that’s warning sign number one, since everyone knows dodos died being dinner for Dutch settlers on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and have never been found anywhere else, although there’s evidence Dutch sailors took them to other countries. It’s possible that they could have been taken to Costa Rica.
Could dodos have lived that long in Costa Rica without being discovered? Well, the Jerdon’s babbler stayed hidden in Myanmar since 1941. Sure, the dodo is a lot bigger and flightless, but we know how good animals are at hiding.
Has the dodo returned? Only time, more videos and some DNA evidence will tell.