Journal Article

Ancient DNA reveals that the ‘extinct’ Hunter Island penguin (Tasidyptes hunteri) is not a distinct taxon

Theresa L Cole, Jonathan M Waters, Lara D Shepherd, Nicolas J Rawlence, Leo Joseph and Jamie R Wood

in Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society

Published on behalf of The Linnean Society of London

Volume 182, issue 2 Published in print December 2018 | ISSN: 0024-4082
Published online August 2017 | e-ISSN: 1096-3642 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlx043
Ancient DNA reveals that the ‘extinct’ Hunter Island penguin (Tasidyptes hunteri) is not a distinct taxon

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Abstract

The penguin species Tasidyptes hunterivan Tets & O’Connor, 1983, the sole representative of an extinct penguin genus, was described on the basis of four bones excavated from a prehistoric midden on Tasmania’s Hunter Island. Several authors have since questioned the validity of T. hunteri, citing the fragmentary nature of the remains and the similarity of some elements (coracoid and tarsometatarsus) to those of extant crested penguin (Eudyptes) species. We designed four overlapping primer pairs to amplify a 499 bp region of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase 1 (COI) in penguins and used these to amplify and sequence COI from all known bones attributed to T. hunteri. The T. hunteri COI sequences were assessed within a phylogenetic framework against COI sequences for all extant penguin species. Our results reveal that the T. hunteri bones are an assemblage of remains from three extant penguin species (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus, E. robustus, Eudyptula novaehollandiae), and we find no molecular support for any of these bones representing an extinct penguin lineage.

Keywords: COI mtDNA; extinction; fossil birds; molecular phylogeny; molecular systematics; morphological comparison; phylogenetics; skeleton; taxonomic revision

Journal Article.  3020 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology ; Natural History ; Zoology and Animal Sciences

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