The first egg of Jerdon's courser Rhinoptilus bitorquatus and a review of the early records of this species

Alan G. Knox*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

For most of the twentieth century, Jerdon's courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus) was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1986. Since then, despite much research, the bird remains poorly known. A Critically Endangered southern Indian endemic, recorded from a restricted area of about 50 square kilometres, its nocturnal habits, infrequent vocalizations, scrub-jungle habitat and low population size make it difficult to observe. Almost nothing is known about its breeding or ecology. Its nest has never been seen by an ornithologist. The first known egg of the species was recently discovered in a collection at the University of Aberdeen and its identity confirmed by DNA analysis. It had been collected by Ernest Gilbert Meaton, a veterinary surgeon at the Kolar Gold Fields, east of Bangalore. He probably obtained it in 1917, within 100 km of Kolar. Meaton's egg collection was purchased by George Falconer Rose, a successful expatriate Scot working in Calcutta, and given to Aberdeen Grammar School in 1919. In the 1970s, the school gave the collection to the University of Aberdeen, where the egg was discovered in 2008. This paper collates and reviews the early records of Jerdon's courser and examines the provenance of the egg. The type specimen of the courser now appears to be lost, but five other specimens exist in collections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-93
Number of pages19
JournalArchives of Natural History
Volume41
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Keywords

  • George Falconer Rose
  • Kolar Gold Fields
  • DNA
  • Eastern Ghats
  • Ernest Gilbert Meaton
  • University of Aberdeen Museums
  • Birds
  • India

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