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Pseudododo - Neocene Project

By electreel
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Azorean pseudododo (Terricolofulma pseudoraphoides)
Order Petrels (Procellariiformes)
Family Ground stormy petrels (Xenoprocellariidae)
Habitat: New Azora Island, woods and bush thickets.
Ecological crisis at the boundary of Holocene and Neocene had caused changes in efficiency of ocean - the most important and simultaneously the most sensitive to changes in biosphere source of food for set of species of animals. The global cooling and change of direction of currents had caused mass extinction of plankton and pelagic animals. As the result many species of large-sized sea animal appeared doomed to starvation. Ecological crisis had completely destroyed populations of sea cetaceans and other animals, undermined in Holocene by human activity. Sea birds appeared harder to these changes, and their species could evolve to new ones. And some of their descendants in Neocene lead absolutely new habit of life.
Island habitats appear rather favorable for evolution of birds, especially if on islands mammals are absent. In Holocene epoch people had introduced to various islands animals which could not appear there in the natural way, therefore only few islands have no mammal fauna. It is, for example, Iceland on which all ground fauna had been destroyed by glaciers. And on New Azora placed at the south ground animals had kept and evolved. But one of birds successfully competes to them, taking a high place in food chain. This bird is the Azorean pseudododo.
This bird differs by many features from rather stupid and harmless Mauritian dodo quickly exterminated by people and mammals introduced to its native island. It is flightless carnivorous bird, the descendant of sea bird mallimauk (Fulmarus glacialis) belonging to Procellariiformes order. The “true” dodo was herbivorous bird, but this bird has kept and has strengthened abilities of carnivorous creature: it eats small animals - murine rodents and small predators, nestlings of other birds, and also carrion. Obviously, the adaptation of ancestors of this species to feeding by ground animals was consequence of sharp falling of biological efficiency of ocean in early Neocene (the ancestral species ate plankton, but already in human epoch it had began to pass to feeding by waste products of sea crafts). This species differs from dodo also by aggression that helps the pseudododo to survive and succeed in the world of New-Azorean mammals. Besides it differs in large size (the adult bird weighs about 6 - 7 kg), and the majority of small inhabitants of New Azora represent delicious catch instead of enemies for it.
Despite of so obvious distinctions, one feature strongly makes this bird similar to dodo. Pseudododo, similarly to dodo, has kept many juvenile features of flying ancestors, becoming, actually, an adult and sexual mature nestling. Body and head of pseudododo are covered with soft down, feathers are only in tail and wings. The body of bird is colored grey with large spots merging to cross strips: such colouring makes bird undistinguished in underbrush of New-Azorean woods. The beak of bird is well adapted to predating: it is big and high, with sharp edges and hook on the tip. The characteristic feature of order, tubular nostrils, was kept at the Azorean pseudododo. The beak of pseudododo has rather bright colouring: it is ivory-colored with red - brown tip. At males the spot on tip of beak is larger, than at females.
Wings of this bird as if had stopped growth in juvenile condition: they are strongly reduced, narrow and short. Wings serve this bird for maintenance of balance at fast movement. Tail is short and fanlike.
Legs of pseudododo are strong and rather long. The manner of movement overland of this bird is original: these birds jump, similarly to kangaroo, pushing from the ground by all hypotarsus (such way of movement on the ground was characteristic for ancestor of this species). In case of necessity bird can run, chasing catch. The palama is reduced, toes are rather short, have grown together to one third of general length. On them thick strong claws are advanced, providing good coupling with the ground at movement. On back (actually bottom) side of hypotarsus and toes there is corneous calloused thickening.
Azorean pseudododoes develop rather slowly: the nestling develops in nest about eight months, and the young bird becomes sexual matured only at the sixth year of life. Pair at these birds is formed to all next life. Courtship ritual is accompanied by complex caring, and during all life birds express attachment to breeding partner. The bird chooses new breeding partner only at death of previous one. This species always nests on the ground, frequently in holes dug out by other animals. In clutch there is always only one egg. But nesting occurs only alternate years, and theoretically breeding pair of birds can bring up only 12 - 15 nestlings for all life. The incubating lasts 40 days; both parents hatch and look after nestling, and thereof survival rate of posterity at pseudododoes is very high. Parents feed posterity by small animals. While the nestling is small, one of parents constantly stays in nest or nearby from it. Later, when the nestling will grow up and will start to become fully fledged (approximately at the third month of development in nest), both parents start to hunt, leaving it alone. In case of necessity nestling can protect itself from enemies, spitting out in them repulsively smelling oily liquid, and biting. Having abandoned the nest at the age of seven and half or eight months, the nestling studies to search for food independently: parents do not care any more of it. It is the critical moment in life of pseudododoes, and the significant part of young growth perishes in this period. Survived birds can expect for long life - till 50 years and more.
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anonymous's avatar
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Bhurloka12's avatar
I knew that there are giant petrels in the Antarctic that feed on carrion, so I wouldn't doubt that a separate species would graduate from coastal flotsam to predatory lifestyle.
electreel's avatar
Yeah, also procellariids feet are generally rather weak and not made for walking, but I don´t see why they wouldn't undergo some peculiar adaptations to take over a more terrestrial way of living.
Bhurloka12's avatar
I thought some species, like shearwaters, can walk. Surely some must have powerful feet as many nest in burrows underground.
dylan613's avatar
why would they need to evolved a kangaroo-like jumping behavior?
electreel's avatar
Because their modern day ancestors already move like that on the ground.
PeteriDish's avatar
pseudododo(dodododo =D) or kangatross? =D
electreel's avatar
Pseudo-dodo ;p Kangatross looks cool :D
PeteriDish's avatar
I know how that name came to be, I just thought that "dodododo" is a bit too much, so I tried to guess what other name could fit =P (So much for my criticism ;P)
electreel's avatar
Ha! That name wasn´t an invention of mine. You´ve failed ;D
PeteriDish's avatar
Well I pretty much did, didn't I? =D There is nothing to be critical about in the picture above... =D
P.S. Is there any way you could suggest "Kangatross" as a "better" name to whoever came up with "Pseudododo(dododododo=D)"
Jaldithas's avatar
anonymous's avatar
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