Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mauritius Owl

Mascarenotus sauzieri
Once upon a time the Mauritius Owl was the largest predator on the entire island that it was named for. That all changed when humans arrived. It fared better than some of the smaller bird species, which fell victim to all the introduced cats and rats rather quickly. Alas, it did go
extinct though, with an estimated date around 1850.

It took a while before people realized that the Mauritius Owl was just one bird. There were no official descriptions until the late 1700s, and the bones that were discovered led scientists to think that these birds were related to Barn Owls. By the 1800s it was determined that the Mauritius Owls were from a different genus entirely, and shared it with two other Mascarene species that are now also extinct.

One it was actually correctly identified in the early 19th century (though the official name did not come till 1893), it wasn't very long before they went extinct. The islands were cultivated for sugarcane and tea, and the Owls lost their habitat. They were reported as extinct in 1859.

IUCN Status : Extinct since the 1850s
Location : Mauritius
Size : Body length around 2ft (60cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Strigiformes
Family : Strigidae -- Genus : Mascarenotus -- Species : M. sauzieri
Image : Illustration by Emile Oustalet

1 comment:

  1. How sad, extinct because of deforestation. I would have loved to see one.

    vegcourtesy.blogspot.com

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