On thre true identity of Bluntschli's Vanga Hypositta perdita Peters, 1996, a presumed extinct species of Vangidae

Peters (1996) described two bird specimens collected at Eminiminy (24o41’S, 46o48’E) in south-eastern Madagascar by the primatologist Hans Bluntschli (1877–1962), which were found during examination of boxes of unidentified bird skins held in the collections at the Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg Frankfurt (SMF). The birds (Fig. 1A–B), which must have been recently fledged young, resemble juveniles and females of Nuthatch Vanga Hypositta corallirostris (Vangidae) by plumage and general appearance, but differ in having a proportionately significantly shorter hind-toe than that species and a longer tarsometatarsus. Proceeding from referring the two specimens to the Vangidae, Peters (1996) assumed that they represented a distinct new species, which was named Bluntschli’s Vanga Hypositta perdita. Since only H. corallirostris was found during recent surveys around Eminiminy and in the adjacent lowlands, including Andehalela National Park (Goodman et al. 1997, Hawkins & Goodman 1999) it seemed that H. perdita represented a potentially extinct form of nuthatch vanga (Peters 1996, BirdLife International 2012). However, Goodman et al. (1997) raised doubts concerning the validity of H. perdita, and it was not recognised as a valid species by the Handbook of the birds of the world project (Yamagishi & Nakamura 2009). For that reason the species was not included in an otherwise complete analysis of the diversification history of the Malagasy Vangidae (Jønsson et al. 2012). However, because of the uncertainty surrounding the status of this named taxon, we decided to undertake a genetic analysis based on toepad or skin samples of the type material. Here we present the result of that analysis, and the taxonomic implication.