First New U.S. Bird Species in Decades—Already Extinct?
Hawaiian seabird confirmed as new species from single preserved specimen.
Scientists in Washington, D.C., identified the tiny seabird, dubbed Bryan's shearwater (Puffinus bryani), from a single specimen collected in 1963 at Midway Atoll (map) in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Though the bird had been thought to be a new species, it took a recent DNA analysis to confirme that fact.
Not only is Bryan's shearwater the smallest of about 21 shearwater species, it also has a longer, blacker tail than related birds, according to study co-author Rob Fleischer, head of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics in Washington, D.C.
"Most people looking at it ... say they all look the same," Fleischer said. "But to someone who's trained to see these differences, they're striking."