Environments produce animals in some way and a similar environment will cause similar animals to evolve again given time.
New Zealand's kiwi is a bird version of a mouse because mice weren't around to fill that niche.
There are many examples that are bafflingly similar yet share very distant common ancestors:
Makes you wonder if the sci fi with human looking aliens is not so far off.
(Which I also discovered via Scott, as it happens.)
I’ve always found clicking through species pages on Wikipedia to see the variations of different animals and the often surprising ways they are interconnected.
It seems like an incredibly hard thing to get right as the categorization constantly changes as more and more DNA analysis disrupts the old lines.
I’d be interested in reading the history of this labelling system and how it evolved. There might be some connection to software and language itself.
This sounds plausible to me. But you think that it is easier that somehow some birds survived the submersion of the island?
It's well known that flightless animals, such as moose, can and do migrate significant distances and colonize islands. They do it by swimming. Could flightless birds do the same? Quite possibly.
It seems reasonable, to me, that a population of these flightless birds would colonize nearby land. What sounds more incredible is that they would then up, leave, and find their way home, thousands of years later -- all without leaving a trace. Perhaps this leads to an interesting follow-up study: are there geological records, or populations, of flightless rails on neighboring islands or nearby land masses?
The atol in question was surveyed in the early 1900s. The rails were there. There has never been a time -- that we know of -- when the rails weren't there.
There are also dozens of other types of birds, giant non-marine tortoises, flying squirrels, bats, and a huge assortment of reptiles.
The only 'fact' that underpins this story is the assumption that "all life on the island went extinct" at some point AFTER some particular fossil of the rail was found.
There is no basis for this 'fact'. It's absurd. There is also no explanation regarding where the other non-marine animals on the island came from after this speculated 'extinction' event.
To be clear, there is no story here UNLESS one assumes the entire atol was submerged at some time AFTER the fossilization event.
Rails exist there today. The fossil record has rails. There has never been a time when there weren't rails that we know of. And there is no solid evidence that all life went extinct on the atol, and a large amount of evidence that there was no extinction event.
> To be clear, there is no story here UNLESS one assumes the entire atol was submerged at some time AFTER the fossilization event.
Figure 3 of the original article suggests exactly that. Rather than call people idiots and heaping scorn for a "lack of critical thinking", find a counter-argument. Like, perhaps the atoll was taller, and a few meters' erosion could make the difference. But I'm not a geologist, so that's just an armchair guess.
Disclosure - I am not, consequently I have no vested interest in either explanation (the article's considered, moderate, science-based proposal, or your knee jerk dismissal).
I am confident the authors of the article considered the possibility that the animal(s) never actually went extinct, though the basis for their conclusions seem sound. The journals would be full of wild claims if things not seen for a few decades were deemed to be miraculously rediscovered after each hiatus.
That the fossil bones (of the originals) and the skeletal structure (of the new) are similar, but not identical - let alone the submerged island problem - speaks against your claim that they're the same.
And, apparently, there will always be a gullible audience.
Similarly I didn't see any mention of intermediate evolutionary stages being found for either a case 1 or 2? If someone sees a paper that does that, it'd be cool
Without the assumption of this extinction event, the story is simply this: "There are rails on this island. And, there are fossils of rails on this island."
Another mechanism we know is used for allowing more than one pattern to be saved is the methylation of DNA. My understanding (IANABiologist) is that certain chunks of DNA are essentially commented out based on environmental factors. Eusocial insects use this to grow different castes with radically different bodies and behaviors from a shared set of basic DNA; besides the metagenetics, you can't tell the DNA of a worker wasp apart from that of a queen. I'm not saying humans have metagenetic castes to this degree, but it's not hard to imagine some related traits getting commented on and off together through some mechanism. I know some researchers now think there might be a whole other level of commentary, or a different track of information entirely, encoded in how the DNA is folded. That research is still pretty new and doesn't know where it's going, IIRC.