enfrdeitjaptrues

Pauline Taxa: Fossil Taxa Later Discovered Alive

In addition to the many millions of living species which have been described, a few very special taxa have been named upon the basis of fossil or subfossil material only to later be discovered still living. Although technically named Lazarus taxa, an allusion to the story of the Biblical Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead after four days (John 11:1-44), pronunciation of extinction in each of these cases turned out to be premature, unlike that of Lazarus. None of them were really resurrected from the dead like Lazarus, or the Pyrenean ibex (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica), the only true Lazarus taxon to date (Folch et al. 2009)1.

Instead the reappearance of most taxa, both those discovered and rediscovered as living, should rather be likened to Paul in Acts (Acts 14:19-20), when he is stoned, putatively to death, but miraculously recovers, clearly never having actually being dead. And hence these taxa should be more appropriately referred to as Pauline taxa rather than Lazarus taxa, a name which I shall adopt throughout this website.

 

Table 1. An incomplete list of Pauline taxa.2

Scientific name Type of animal/plant Last record Rediscovered Source/s
Acerodon humilis Bat    

 

Aproteles bulma Bat      
Awalycaeus yanoshokoae Snail      
Bibimys labiosus Rodent      
Blarinomys breviceps Rodent      
Burramys parvus Possum (marsupial)      
Calliostoma bullatum marine snail Middle Pleistocene    
Canariella pontelirac Snail      
Catagonus wagneri Peccary (related to pigs)      
Coenocorypha aucklandica perseverance Bird      
Cuscomys oblativa Rodent 1500's? 2009 or 2012  
Cyclocypris diebeli Crustacean      
Discus macclintocki land snail Late Pleistocene 1955  
Hemicycla eurythyra Snail      
Lundomys molitor Rodent Late Pleistocene 1993 (Voss & Carleton, 1993)
Mastacomys fuscus mordicus Rodent      
Mesocapromys nanus3 Rodent   pre-1938  EDGE website
Muntiacus gigas Deer Holocene? 2016? (Turvey et al., 2016)
Natalus jamaicensis Bat      
Natalus primus Bat      
Nesopupa turtoni (land snail) subfossil 2003  
Paulamys naso Rodent      
Phyllodactylus sp. nov. 'Rabida Island' Gecko c.5,000yBP 2012  
Porphyrio hochstetteri Rail (bird)   1850 or before (Mantell, 1850)
Pseudorca crassidens Whale      
Pseudoryzomys simplex Rodent      
Rhynchotalona latens Crustacean Quaternary ?  
Sorex religiosus Shrew   Early 1900's (Woodman et al. 2017)
Speothos venaticus Canid      
Tonatia saurophila Bat      
Ziphius cavirostris Whale   1872  

 

Table 2. Rediscovery of ghost lineages.

Scientific name Type of animal/plant Rediscovered Source/s
[carp gudgeon]     https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/the-mystery-of-a-team-of-canberra-ghostbusters-and-a-freaky-fish-20190321-p5163z.html

 

 

Appendix 1: Potential future additions to this list

Sarcophilus laniarus (Owen, 1838), the mainland Tasmanian devil, might be conspecific with the extant Tasmanial devil, Sarcophilus harrisii (Boitard, 1841).

Notes:

1 Although the Southern gastric brooding frog (Rheobatrachus silus) has also been resurrected, albeit in a restricted sense (see Phillips, 2013).

2 I owe a huge debt to a blog post by vertebrate palaeontologist Darren Naish.

3 Sadly this species is now believed to be extinct. The last known individual was collected in 1937.

References:

Folch, J., Cocero, M. J., Chesné, P., Alabart, J. L., Domínguez, V., Cognié, Y., Roche, A., Fernández-Árias, A., Martí, J. I., Sánchez, P., Echegoyen, E., Beckers, J. F., Sánchez Bonastre, A. and Vignon, X. (2009). First birth of an animal from an extinct subspecies (Capra pyrenaica pyrenaica) by cloning. Theriogenology 71(6): 1026-1034. [Abstract]

Mantell, G. A. (1850). Notice of the Discovery by Mr. Walter Mantell, in the Middle Island of New Zealand, of a living specimen of the Notornis, a bird of the rail family, allied to Brachypteryx, and hitherto unknown to naturalists except in a fossil state. Proc. Zool. Soc.. Lond. pt. 18. 209-212.

Phillips, Nicky. (2013). Extinct frog hops back into the gene pool. The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 March (Saturday).

Turvey, Samuel T. et al. (2016). Holocene range collapse of giant muntjacs and pseudo-endemism in the Annamite large mammal fauna. Journal of Biogeography. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12763 [Abstract]

Voss, R. S. and Carleton, M. D. (1993). A new genus for Hesperomys molitor Winge and Holochilus magnus Hershkovitz (Mammalia, Muridae) with an analysis of its phylogenetic relationships. American Museum Novitates 3085: 1-39.

Woodman, Neal, Koch, Claudia and Hutterer, Rainer. (2017). Rediscovery of the type series of the Sacred Shrew, Sorex religiosus I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1826, with additional notes on mummified shrews of ancient Egypt (Mammalia: Soricidae). Zootaxa 4341(1): 1-24. [Abstract]

Published on 1 February 2015.