Wild Birds

St. Helena Crake

St. Helena Crake (Porzana astrictocarpus)



The St. Helena Crake or St. Helena Rail (Porzana astrictocarpus) is an extinct bird species from Saint Helena, one of two flightless rails which have survived on that island until the early 16th. century.

After American ornithologist Alexander Wetmore described bones of the large St. Helena Swamphen (Atlantisia podarces) from Prosperous Bay, Saint Helena, in 1963, American paleontologist Storrs Olson found almost complete skeletons of the St. Helena Crake in the same region in 1973. These skeletons consist of bones that were smaller than the bones of Atlantisia podarces. Due to the peculiar shape of the carpometacarpus, Olson named this species Porzana astrictocarpus.

Olson proceeds on the assumption that the St. Helena Crake was a derivative of the Baillon’s Crake (Porzana pusilla) which is widespread in Europe and Africa. Thus, that there were no predators on St. Helena it had lost its ability to fly. However, when St. Helena was colonised by 1502 the settlers brought a lot of mammals to the island which sealed the fate of the St. Helena Crake.


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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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