Field Museum Researchers ID New Bird Species

The Mentocrex beankaensis stays out of sight all day

By James Langton
|  Thursday, Feb 24, 2011  |  Updated 8:15 PM CDT
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Artist's view of the Mentocrex beankaensis.

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Researchers at the Chicago Field Museum have helped identify a new species of bird in the dry forests of Madagascar.

It's called the Mentocrex beankaensis.

"Even after many decades of research, nature is always full of surprises," said Madagascan Professor Dr. Marie Jeanne Raherilalao.

The small, well-camouflaged bird is classified as a new species of rail. It’s a type of bird usually known for staying out of sight by day, and only making its distinctive calls at night.

Maybe that’s why it was so hard to find,

"This bird they’ve known about for decades, but no one has been able to go find it and get a specimen of it," University of Chicago graduate student and Field Museum Researcher Nick Block told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Block helped with the molecular, genetic part of the research.

“All bird watchers will want to add it to their checklist," he said.

The find came from a 2009 expedition of Madagascar’s Beanka Forest. The remote area has been a treasure trove for researchers looking to find and preserve unique species of plants and animals.

Aldus Andriamamonjy, the Director of the Association Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar, says the discovery will not only help efforts to preserve the forest, but also help improve the quality of life for people who live nearby.

He says the best approach is, “Working in unison with local people to fulfill aspects of their economic and development needs and bestowing a sense of natural patrimony of the organisms that live in their forest.”

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