In a rare case of a species effectively evolving into existence twice, the Aldabra rail has re-evolved back into existence after first going extinct 136,000 years ago, according to a new study.
Not only that, the flightless bird has also reclaimed its home island in the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean.
According to the study published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the rail’s home in the atoll has been submerged multiple times throughout history during events that wiped out all the species that inhabited it.
However, the Aldabra rail has continued to return in a rare phenomenon known as iterative evolution, when the same ancestral lineage leads to the repeated evolution of a species at different points in time, producing parallel offshoot species that are nearly identical to one another and can pop up multiple times in various eras and locations—even when past iterations have gone completely extinct.
Such was the case with the Aldabra rail, having descended from a chicken-sized flying bird known as the white-throated rail, which faced its demise around 136,000 years ago when the island was completely inundated and submerged below sea level, wiping out all local fauna and flora.