Updates to My Books


1. What's Lost and What Remains: The Sixth Extinction in 100 Accounts


4. The Frosted phoenix hasn't been seen since 1959 (Titanomis sisyrota)

Titanomis has been rediscovered on Stewart Island, where it was unknowingly photographed by Pav Johnsson on 2 March 2024, before being identified as Titanomis by Dr. Robert Hoare (who gave the species its vernacular name) as the long lost moth (Mitchell, 2024).



Mitchell, Charlie. (2024, March 30). Mysterious moth unseen for 65 years accidentally rediscovered by tourist. The Press (Te Matatika). Available at: [Accessed 30 March 2024]


25. Anthropogenic extinction sucks (Xerobdella lecomtei)

The European land leech (Xerobdella lecomtei) is not in fact endemic to the birch forests around Graz, Austria, and is not thought to be extinct. I failed to pick up on the fact that Kutschera et al. (2007) used the term "local extinction", as it has also been reported from Slovenia (e.g. Jueg, 2015) & Italy (e.g. Nesemann & Neubert, 1999).



Jueg, Uwe. (2015). Xerobdella praealpina Minelli, 1971 (Hirudinea, Xerobdellidae) in Österreich und Slowenien. Lauterbornia. 79: 145-149.

Kutschera, U., Pfeiffer, I. and Ebermann, E. (2007). The European land leech: biology and DNA-based taxonomy of a rare species that is threatened by climate warming. Naturwissenschaften 94: 967-974.

Nesemann, H. and Neubert, E. (1999). Branchiobdellida, Acanthobdellea, Hirudinea.- In: Schwoerbel, J. & P. Zwick (eds): Süßwasserfauna von Mitteleuropa. Begründet von A. Brauer 6(2), 178 pp., Heidelberg.


37. The man who cried shark? (Carcharhinus hemiodon)

The most recent RedList assessment for the species revises its last record back to 1960, with persistent issues relating to correct identification of individuals due to possible confusion with a number of other species (Kyne et al., 2022). The IUCN therefore does not recognise the alleged rediscovery of the species made by Jessica Evans, Forrest Galante's wife. Moreover, trouble with field identification makes it difficult to assign the species to a specific conservation category, emphasising that its status as missing is tentative at best. Thus again making it a poor choice for Galante to search for, as opposed to other species whose identification in the field is not problematic, including the greater part of biodiversity (invertebrates, plants and fungi) that he almost completes neglects.



Kyne, P. M., Jabado, R. W., Akhilesh, K. V., Bineesh, K. K., Booth, H., Dulvy, N. K., Ebert, D.A., Fernando, D., Khan, M., Tanna, A. and Finucci, B. (2021). Carcharhinus hemiodon (errata version published in 2022). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T39369A221513674. Accessed on 17 December 2022.


41. When native species must go (Lampetra minima)

At the time of writing, I was only aware of a single species of lamprey that is considered possibly extinct, a migratory species from Ukraine last recorded in the late 1800s (Eudontomyzon sp. nov. 'Migratory'). A recent IUCN RedList assessment has treated the Chapala lamprey (Tetrapleurodon spadiceus) as "Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)", which was endemic to Lago de Chapala and a connecting portion of the Rio Grande de Santiago, and last recorded in 1987 (Snoeks et al., 2019).



Snoeks, J., Lalèyè, P. and Contreras MacBeath, T. (2019). Tetrapleurodon spadiceus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T169396A132675777. Accessed on 17 December 2022.


48. A giant in the canopy (Ctenomorpha gargantua)

In the book I wrote the following about Coxen's fig parrot (Cyclopsitta coxeni):

"It has been the subject of numerous unconfirmed sightings over the last few decades, although verified records do apparently exist (BirdLife International, 2021)".

But a recent paper reports that there have not been any independently verified sightings of the species since at least 2002 (Garnett et al., 2022).



BirdLife International. (2021). Species factsheet: Cyclopsitta coxeni. Downloaded from on 15/08/2021.

Garnett, Stephen T., Hayward-Brown, Brittany K. et al. (2022). Australia's most imperilled vertebrates. Biological Conservation 270: 109561.


52. An extinct sheep-sized echidna (Zaglossus hacketti)

Since the book's publication in 2021, a new paper (Flannery et al., 2022) has erected the new genus Murrayglossus for Zaglossus hacketti (now Murrayglossus hacketti) as well as engaged in some grounded speculation over its ecology:

"The ecology of M. hacketti is unknown. Yet it is morphologically distinct from the sympatric Tachyglossus and Megalibgwilia, implying some degree of niche partitioning. Murray (1978b, p. 53) commented that ‘one possible postural correlate of the shortened tibia and relatively long femur [in M. hacketti] is an adaptation to shift the centre of gravity of body mass backwards. This may have allowed mobility of the forelimbs for digging or tearing and may have permitted the animal to easily assume an assisted bipedal stance while feeding on ants or termites nests, a posture sometimes used by both living genera’. We would add that a semi-vertical posture might have also facilitated arboreality in M. hacketti. Surprisingly, Zaglossus bartoni is capable of ascending vertical fences (Flannery 1998). Furthermore, the vicinity of Mammoth Cave is densely forested. Arboreal-nesting termites (Calaby & Gay 1959) could have feasibly provided a viable food source. If correct, then niche separation among tachyglossids potentially involved Tachyglossus as a terrestrial feeder on colonial invertebrates, Megalibgwilia as a terrestrial feeder on large soil invertebrates (e.g., scarab beetle larvae: see Murray 1978b), and M. hacketti as a scansorial feeder on arboreal, colonial invertebrates." (Flannery et al., 2022)



Flannery, Timothy F., Rich, Thomas H., Vickers-Rich, Patricia, Ziegler, Tim, Veatch, Grace and Helgen, Kristofer M. (2022). A review of monotreme (Monotremata) evolution. Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology 46(1): 3-20.


64. When to declare? Cricketers and conservationists share a problem (Rhachistia aldabrae)

Since writing the book, a new preprint (viz. not peer-reviewed) has appeared which calls into question the claim that climate change has been responsible for the sharp decline in Rhachistia aldabrae (Altaba, 2022).



Altaba, C.R. (2022). Extinction through Climate Change: Review of Evidence and Analysis of Two Land Snails from the Seychelles Islands. Preprints 2022, 2022100315 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202210.0315.v2).


96. A not so egg-cellent identification (Genyornis newtoni)

A new paper has resolved the identity of the mystery layer of the eggs, and shown that it was in fact Genyornis after all (Demarchi et al., 2022).



Demarchi, Beatrice et al. (2022). Ancient proteins resolve controversy over the identity of Genyornis eggshell. PNAS Preprint e2109326119.


2. Thylacine: The History, Ecology and Loss of the Tasmanian Tiger

This book currently has no specific updates, as it is due for publication on 1 March 2023 in Australia, in March in the UK, and possibly March in the USA.

However, one niggle arises over the wording of a chapter of mine ("Never far apart: picturing Paris's pair of pouched predators"). I wanted an alliterative title, and originally had 'prehistoric' in place of 'pouched', but I felt that that did not do justice to the species, especially in the face of "placental chauvinism". However, I fear that I replaced it with an equally unsuitable word ("pouched") which might suggest that both the female and male had genuine pouches. In reality, the male's "pouch" is nothing of the sort and intended to be able to retract the scrotum into for protection.