strange behaviors

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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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New Petrel Hiding in Plain Sight

Posted by Richard Conniff on March 7, 2011

People have this notion that there’s nothing left to discover, other than a bunch of obscure insects.  So it’s lovely when a big, spectacular new species turns up hiding in plain sight  That’s what just happened within sight of crowded beaches in Chile, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.  Noted ornithologist Peter Harrison caught the new species on camera:

“This is the first new species of storm petrel discovered in 89 years, and the first new species of seabird discovered in 55 years –- and if we had won the lottery we could not feel better,” Harrison said in an interview

“We believe this is a relic population that was completely missed by Darwin himself, who sailed along that very coast a century ago,” Harrison said.

“And guess what? There are thousands of them in that area, which is plied by cruise ships, cargo vessels and fishing boats, all within sight of crowded beaches.”

Researchers at the University of Chile in Santiago are analyzing collected blood samples and feathers to learn more about the birds, where they breed and if they migrate to wintering grounds elsewhere.

“Important discoveries usually happen in remote places like Borneo or the Amazon forests,” said Garry George, chapter network director for Audubon California.

“Not this time,” he said. “This bird has been under everyone’s noses in a popular area for decades.”

2 Responses to “New Petrel Hiding in Plain Sight”

  1. How extraordinary.

  2. That’s awesome – although hard to believe it’s been so long since any new sea birds have been discovered, but how wonderful to think there is still so much left for us to discover.

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