The Recently Extinct Plants and Animals Database

Porphyrio paepae Steadman, 1988:163

Marquesas swamphen, Koao (see notes)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature



Conservation Status

Last record: Holocene; c.1900?; 1937?

IUCN RedList status: Extinct


Thor Heyerdahl reported seeing a flightless bird which his guide told him the locals called the Koao, which may represent a living individual of this species (Shuker, 1999:27-28). It has also apparently been seen on other occasions (Ibid.), in contrast to some other sources ("Heyerdahl 1974 per T. Tyrberg in litt. 2014").



Hiva Oa and Tahuata, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia


Biology & Ecology







Paul Gauguin's 1902 painting  entitle 'Le Sorcier d'Hiva Oa ou le Marquisien à la cape rouge' may depict this species in the lower right corner ([url=]source[/url]).



Original scientific description:

Steadman, David W. (1988). A new species of Porphyrio (Aves: Rallidae) from archeological sites in the Marquesas Islands. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 101(1): 162-170.


Other references:

BirdLife International. (2014). Porphyrio paepae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. ( Downloaded on 26 July 2014.

Heyerdahl, Thor. (1974). Fatu-Hiva: Back to nature. Garden City.

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

Livezey, Bradley C. (1998). A phylogenetic analysis of the Gruiformes (Aves) based on morphological characters, with an emphasis on the rails (Rallidae). Phil.Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 353: 2077-2151.

Shuker, Karl P. N. (1999). Mysteries of Planet Earth: An Encyclopedia of the Inexplicable. Carlton Books. 192 pp.


<< Back to the Gruiformes (Crakes, Cranes, Fluftails, Gallinues, Limpkins, Rails, Trumpeters, Wood-rails, etc.) database