The rich and unique biodiversity of Madagascar has a new member: a forest dwelling bird in the rail family, dubbed Mentocrex beankaensis. In 2009 US and Malaygasy scientists conducted a survey in Madagascar's dry Beanka Forest. They discovered several new species, of which the new rail is the first to be described.
"This bird they’ve known about for decades, but no one has been able to go find it and get a specimen of it," said Nick Block, a graduate student at the University of Chicago who studied the new birds molecular genetic told the Chicago Sun Times, describing the new species as 'not common at all'.
Similar to another Malagasy rail, researchers were able to show Mentocrex beankaensis is a new species with taxonomic and DNA studies.
The dry Beanka forests, where the species survived, rest on limestone, which in some cases have formed dramatic spires. The Beanka forest protected area is currently managed by Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar (BCM).
"We [BCM] have taken an approach to the conservation of the Beanka Forest resting on working in unison with local people to fulfill aspects of their economic and development needs and bestowing a sense of natural patrimony of the organisms that live in their forest. These are aspects critical for any long-term successful project. The discovery of this new species of bird and other organisms during the late 2009 expedition underlines the importance of our mission and the uniqueness of the Beanka Forest," the director of BCM, Aldus Andriamamonjy, said in a press release.
Artist's view of the Mentocrex beankaensis. Illustration by: Velizar A. Simeonovski. CITATION: Steve M. Goodman, Marie Jeanne Raherilalao, and Nicholas L. Block. Patterns of morphological and genetic variation in the Mentocrex kioloides complex (Aves: Gruiformes: Rallidae) from Madagascar, with the description of a new species. Zootaxa. 2776: 49-60 (2011).