discovered-speciesIn May of 2004, wildlife volunteers stumbled across a new species of flightless bird while exploring a remote island in the northern Philippines.

Discovered on the isolated island of Calayan, the largest island in the Babuyan Island group, the Calayan Rail represents one of the most fascinating zoological finds of the decade.

Filipino wildlife biologist, Carmela Española, literally stumbled across these amazing creatures while canvassing the rain forest with a team of nine volunteer wildlife researchers from the Philippines and the United Kingdom. Ironically, it had been exactly 100 years since the island had last been visited by an ornithologist.

Española made notes, photographs and recordings of these dark, red billed, flightless birds, resulting in the confirmation of the existence of this species heretofore unknown to science.

While this species may be new to science, it was old hat to the natives who hunted it and referred to the bird as the “Piding.” This is yet another example of how a species noted in native lore, but ignored or dismissed by mainstream science – such as the MOUNTAIN GORILLA, GIANT SQUID or COELACANTH – can many years later be introduced into the zoological record. This to offers hope for academically mocked creatures like BIGFOOT, THUNDER BIRD or MOKELE-M’BEMBE, all of which have been extensively chronicled in native legends.

Survey member and professor of zoology and wildlife biology at the University of the Philippines, Juan Carlos Gonzalez, said that since the Calayan Rails are ground feeding and ground nesting species they may face a high risk of extinction in the wild. This was a concern confirmed by the BBC

“In the midst of the disappearing rain forests of the Philippines and the drastic loss of biodiversity, the discovery of the Calayan Rail in one of the most fragile habitats in the archipelago is a sign of hope that it’s not too late to conserve these remote rain forests. But we need to conserve and learn about it before it’s too late,” said Gonzalez.

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