Discover new species of colorful birds in Indonesia

Scientists have discovered several new species of tropical sunbirds on remote islands in Indonesia.

Zoologists from Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with an Indonesian research team, have identified, among other things, the previously unknown “Wakatobi solar bird” (Cinnyris infrenatus) with its bright yellowish-blue breast, which lives in the Wakatobi archipelago in East Sulawesi. That’s according to a new study published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

The study says: “The Wakatobi Islands have been recognized as an important area for birds, but despite their importance, they have received little or no bird interest until recently.” Lead author Fionn Ó Marcaigh said: “Small, isolated islands like these have their own evolutionary processes and often produce species Unique, as in the case of the famous Galapagos Islands.”

Previously unknown species

The researchers also examined specimens previously thought to be green-backed sunbirds (Cinnyris jugularis) and silky sunbirds (Leptocoma sericea). They discovered that individuals belong to previously unknown species. Thus, green-backed sunbirds, for example, represent a super-species that should be divided into at least four species, according to the study. “These exciting findings have important implications for our understanding of evolution in this biodiverse region,” she said.

Sunbirds – or sunbirds in English – live in the tropics from Africa to Australia. They look like American hummingbirds. Male sunbirds often have shiny plumage with iridescent, metallic plumage that shimmers in the sunlight. The authors said that the feathers of these animals have been studied by zoologists for hundreds of years to name the species. About 140 species are currently recognized.

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The study has now taken into account, among other things, DNA and song recordings as well as body dimensions and wing lengths – and shown that the sunbird family is much more diverse than previously thought. “It is amazing that in this region (…) there are still species waiting to be discovered,” said Ó Marcay. “I am glad we have expanded the list of known species from this wonderful part of the world.”


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