Talpanas lippa Olson & James, 2009:48

Maha’ulepu duck, Kaua'i mole duck, Kaua'i small-eyed duck (proposed)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: aff. Anas sp. Burney et al. 2001:628


Conservation Status


Last record: c.3490-3305 yBP



Kauai, Hawaiian Islands, USA


Biology & Ecology

The Maha’ulepu duck was extremely unusual amongst waterfowl because it showed adaptations to a nocturnal and terrestrial lifestyle, much like the Kiwi of New Zealand (Witmer et al., 2017).



Holotype: USNM 535683 ("complete neurocranium lacking quadratojugals and any elements of the palate and with the surface of the basitemporal plate eroded away")

Type locality: "Hawaiian Islands, Kauai, south coast. Maha'ulepu/Pa'a district, Makauwahi Cave, 5 km ESE of the town of Koloa, 21˚53'17.5'' N 159˚25' 08.5''W."



USNM 535684 ("fused vomer and right and left palatine bones (broken and repaired)")

USNM 535685 ("right postdentary portion of mandible")

USNM 535688 ("fragment of left innominate with antitrochanter and portion of acetabulum")

USNM 535689 ("proximal end of right tibiotarsus")

USNM 535690 ("right tarsometatarsus") 

USNM 535691 ("left tarsometatarsus")

USNM 535686 ("right innominate lacking most of pubis and anterior margin of ilium")






Original scientific description:

Iwaniuk, Andrew N., Olson, Storrs L., and James, Helen F. (2009). Extraordinary cranial specialization in a new genus of extinct duck (Aves: Anseriformes) from Kauai, Hawaiian Islands. Zootaxa 2296: 47-67.*


* Also available from:


Other references:

Burney, David A. et al. (2001). Fossil evidence for a diverse biota from Kaua'i and its transformation since human arrival. Ecological Monographs 71(4): 615-641.

Hume, Julian Pender and Walters, Michael. (2012). Extinct Birds. London: T & AD Poyser. 544 pp.

Witmer, Lawrence M., Ridgely, Ryan C., James, Helen F., Olson, Storrs L. and Iwaniuk, Andrew N. (2017). The remarkable, recently extinct “mole-duck” Talpanas lippa (Aves: Anseriformes) from Kauai, Hawaii: behavioral implications of its neuroanatomy and skull morphology. The FASEB Journal vol. 31 no. 1 Supplement 251.6. [Abstract]


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