New Species Of Himalayan Bird Discovered By Scientists

Posted: Jan 21 2016, 9:22pm CST | by , Updated: Jan 22 2016, 3:07pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


New Species of Himalayan Bird Discovered by Scientists
Credit:Per Alstrom

New Himalayan forest thrush species has been found in northeast India and has been named Himalaya forest thrush Zoothera Salimalii.

A team of international scientists have discovered new species of bird in northeast India and the border close to China.

The new bird species has been named Himalaya Forest Thrush Zoothera Salimalii named after Indian ornithologist Salim Ali.

The Himalaya forest thrush was initially confused with another Himalayan bird species plain-backed thrush Zoothera mollissima found back in 2009 and was considered single species. But later researchers found that the new bird spotted in coniferous and mixed forest has a very unique, sweet tune compared to plain-backed thrush living in the same area - on bare rocky ground above the treeline that had a much harsher, scratchier and unmusical voice. 

“It was an exciting moment when the penny dropped and we realized that the two different song types from plain-backed thrushes that were first heard in northeast India in 2009 and which were associated with at different habitats at different elevations, were given by two different species.” Per Alstrom from Uppsala University (Sweden) and lead author of the study said.

Further analysis of structure, song, DNA and ecology from all the ranges of plain-backed thrush revealed that a third species of bird also exists in central China but it was considered a subspecies of plain-backed thrush initially. Scientists called it Sichuan forest Thrush and the bird has a very unique song even sweeter than Himalayas forest thrush. 

DNA analysis suggested that these three species are genetically different and have been separated several million years ago.

“At first we had no idea whether they differed morphologically,” said co-author Pamela Rasmussen from Michigan State University. “We were stunned to find that specimens in museum for over 150 years from the same parts of Himalayas could readily be divided into two groups based on measurements and plumage.”

Researchers suggest that latest discovery also hints on another unmanned bird species in the region of China but further research is required to confirm this.

Discovering new bird species is extremely rare. Only five new bird species have been discovered on average each of the last 15 years and mainly in South America. Himalayan forest thrush is the only fourth new species reported in India since 1949.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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