New species and records of birds from prehistoric sites on Niue, Southwest Pacific

David W. Steadman, Trevor H. Worthy, Atholl J. Anderson, Richard Walter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


We report the first prehistoric bird bones from the isolated limestone island of Niue, South Pacific. Discovered in a cave known as Anakuli, the bones are Holocene in age but lack cultural association. They represent three extinct species: a night-heron (Nycticorax kalavikai), a new species known thus far only from Niue but closely related to an extinct undescribed species from Tonga; the 'Niuafo'ou' Megapode (Megapodius pritchardii), known historically only from Niuafo'ou (Tonga) but recorded from prehistoric sites elsewhere in Tonga; and Gallirallus huiatua, a new species of flightless rail presumably endemic to Niue and distinct from extinct, flightless congeneric species from island groups immediately east (Cook Islands) and west (Tonga) of Niue. The first two species are in accord with the overall biogeographic affinity of the extant avifauna of Niue, which is West Polynesian rather than East Polynesian.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-186
Number of pages22
JournalWilson Bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000
Externally publishedYes


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