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A Rail from Fernando de Noronha (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
In the chapter A SYNOPSIS OF THE FOSSIL RALLIDAE (In: S. Dillon Ripley: Rails of the World, 1977) Storrs L. Olson wrote:

A Rail from Fernando de Noronha

In 1973 I collected remains of a medium-sized species of rail from Pleistocene sand dunes on the island of Fernando de Noronha, over 200 miles east of the eastern tip of Brazil. These specimens are currently under study. The bird had reduced wings and may have been flightless. It does not appear to be referable to any of the genera of mainland Brazil and may possibly be another form of Atlantisia.


This bird lead me to two questions:

Storrs L. Olson will turn 75 in 2019. So when will he describe this species? Or will this species described by another scientist? In 2014, Dr. Olson wrote to me that the description is still pending. And question number two: If Atlantisia is now included in Laterallus (cf Stervander et al 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. ) will the Fernando de Noronha Rail also included in Laterallus ?
Last edited:

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
In answer of question 1: I am afraid we have to wait and see who will describe it and when. But remember the species is at least 10,000 years old, a few years more or less don't matter.

With the second question, Olson 1973 placed Aphanocrex podarces Wetmore, 1963 in Atlantisia and described the new species Atlantisia elpenor Olson, 1973. In 2003 Bourne, Ashmole and Simmons placed Atlantisia elpenor Olson, 1973 in a new genus as Mundia elpenor (Olson, 1973) and placed Atlantisia podarces (Wetmore, 1963) back in Aphanocrex Wetmore, 1963 as Aphanocrex podarces Wetmore, 1963. This means that Atlantisia is left with only one species, the living Atlantisia rogersi Lowe, 1923 that is transferred to Laterallus. So transfering Atlantisia rogersi to Laterallus does not affect the extinct species.


Attached: Bourne, Ashmole et Simmons, 2003


  • 091-045-051.pdf
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Well-known member
See also another paper by Olson referring to this species:

Olson, S. L. (1981): Natural history of vertebrates on the Brazilian islands of the mid South Atlantic. Natl. Geogr. Soc. Res. Rep. 13: 481-492.

Remains of a new species of rail (Rallidae) were also found, bringing the
total known land-bird fauna to four species. Most of the elements ofthe skele-
ton, from several different individuals, are represented. This was a medium-
size rail with the wings reduced, but to a lesser extent than in many flightless
species. It does not appear to be particularly close morphologically to any of
the species of rails from mainland Brazil. I have briefly alluded to this form
elsewhere (Olson, 1977b), but it has yet to be formally described



Rafael S. Nascimento
In Carleton & Olson (1999: 55) this species is mentioned as a member of Rallus.

The assortment of species endemic to the island is an odd subset of the mainland fauna: a large sigmodontine rodent (Noronhomys vespuccii), a wormlizard (Amphisbaenia ridleyi), a skink (Mabuya maculata), and three landbirds—a vireo (Vireo gracilirostris, Vireonidae), a flycatcher (Elaenia ridleyana, Tyrannidae), and an undescribed flightless rail (Rallus, Rallidae).

Carleton, M.D.; Olson, S.L. (1999) Amerigo Vespucci and the rat of Fernando de Noronha: a new genus and species of Rodentia (Muridae, Sigmodontinae) from a volcanic island off Brazil's continental shelf. American Museum Novitates 3256: 1-59.


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