Henderson island fossils reveal new Polynesian sandpiper species

Henderson island fossils reveal new Polynesian sandpiper species
The extinct Kiritimati Sandpiper, Prosobonia cancellata – a close cousin of the newly discovered Prosobonia sauli. Credit: George Edward Lodge, 1907

Fossil bones collected in the early 1990s on Henderson Island, part of the Pitcairn Group, have revealed a new species of Polynesian sandpiper.


The Henderson Sandpiper, a small wading bird that has been extinct for centuries, is described in an article in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society published last week.

The newly-described bird is formally named Prosobonia sauli after Cook Islands-based ornithologist and conservationist Edward K Saul.

A team of researchers from New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands and China, led by Canterbury Museum Research Curator Natural History Dr. Vanesa De Pietri, described the Henderson Sandpiper from 61 fossilised bones cared for by the Natural History Museum at Tring in England.

Canterbury Museum Visiting Researcher Dr. Graham Wragg collected the bones from caves and overhangs on

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