St Bathans wren

Kuiornis indicator Worthy, T., Hand, Nguyen, Tennyson, Worthy, J., Scofield, Boles & Archer, 2010

New Zealand status: Endemic

Conservation status: Extinct

Other names: Saint Bathans wren

 
 
St Bathans wren. Holotype (proximal tarsometatarsus), S.050929, Te Papa. St Bathans. Image © Te Papa

St Bathans wren. Holotype (proximal tarsometatarsus), S.050929, Te Papa. St Bathans. Image © Te Papa

The St Bathans wren was described from four bones, possibly all from the same individual, recovered from 19-16 million-year-old (Early Miocene) lake-bed deposits along the true left bank of the Manuherikia River, St Bathans, central Otago.

The holotype (NMNZ S.50929, a proximal right tarsometatarsus) and paratypes (NMNZ S.50008 and S.50930) are held at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The St Bathans wren was similar in size to the rifleman, which is another acanthisittid wren and New Zealand’s smallest extant bird species. The rifleman was also the closest known relative of the St Bathans wren.

The genus name is based on the Māori legend of Maui discovering New Zealand, and leaving his companion Kui on the new land when he returned to Hawaiki. ‘Kuiornis’ is the bird that stayed. The species name ‘indicator, is from the Latin to show or indicate. This refers to the biogeographic significance of the find, which confirmed the presence of the endemic family Acanthisittidae (New Zealand wrens) in New Zealand for at least 16 million years. New Zealand wrens are considered basal to all other songbirds (Order Passeriformes) – i.e. they branched off the songbird ‘tree’ before any other group did – and they are one of New Zealand’s truly archaic faunal groups.

Weblinks

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/fossils/6/1

References

Worthy, T.H.; Hand, S.J.; Nguyen, J.M.T.; Tennyson, A.J.D.; Worthy, J.P.; Scofield, R.P.; Boles, W.E.; Archer, M. 2010. Biogeographical and phylogenetic implications of an Early Miocene wren (Aves: Passeriformes: Acanthisittidae) from New Zealand. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30: 479-498.

Recommended citation

Miskelly, C.M. 2013. St Bathans wren. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

St Bathans wren

Breeding season
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