Researchers have discovered an entirely new subspecies of the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo in Western Australia. The Australian Museum, University of Sydney, CSIRO, and the University of Edinburgh conducted a large-scale study that identified the new bird.

Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo
(Image Source: Patrick Tomkins)

‘Calyptorhynchus banksii escondidus’

The new subspecies have been named Calyptorhynchus banksii escondidus. Kyle Ewart is a researcher at the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics. He told The Koala the new subspecies was first thought to be part of the inland red-tailed black cockatoo since they look extremely similar.

Ewart said, “This newly diagnosed subspecies, C. b. escondidus, is genetically distinct from the other subspecies. It looks quite similar to the inland red-tailed black cockatoo subspecies, which is why it was previously thought to be part of this subspecies.”

Adding, “We believe these populations look similar because they live in similar environments (arid and semi-arid Australia), and have similar feeding ecologies. They are ground feeders, while the other red-tailed black-cockatoo subspecies are mostly arboreal. Similar habitats and feeding ecologies likely meant that these birds evolved similar morphological traits.”

kyle ewart
(Image Source: Kyle Ewart)

Genetic Study

Also, Kyle Ewart shared how the study was conducted. Previously, they used to differentiate the subspecies based on morphology, what the different subspecies looked like.

In this “comprehensive genetic study,” they used samples from a variety of species to check their accuracy. Ewart stated that they found the red-tailed black cockatoo’s from Western Australian “genetically different from the other populations of inland red-tailed black-cockatoo.”

cockatoo
(Image Source: Patrick Tomkins)

“In fact, these Western Australian populations were more closely related to the forest red-tailed black-cockatoo subspecies in south-west Western Australia. This led us to characterize these genetically distinct Western Australian inland populations as a separate species, named Calyptorhynchus banksii escondidus. They can be found in the Wheatbelt region, and up to the Pilbara region,  in Western Australia.”

red tailed black cockatoo
(Image Source: Leah Tsang)

The researches know a little bit about the new subspecies but there is still more they need to learn. It is important to conduct more research into their conservation to help protect the species. 

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