New Owl Species Hid Under Experts' Noses for 100 Years

O. jolandae thought to be another species, ID'd by its hoot

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 14, 2013 9:53 AM CST

(Newser) – Researchers have identified a new owl species—improbably, more than 100 years after it was first discovered, reports Wired. The Rinjani scops owl, from the Indonesian island of Lombok, was thought to be a member of Otus magicus since 1896, when a British naturalist collected several specimens. But a visiting taxonomist who heard the Rinjani's call in 2003 realized it sounded totally different than the O. magicus. "It is a wake-up call for ornithologists: there is still much to learn," says a co-author of the study that identified the species.

Further investigation revealed subtle differences in color between the species, and a DNA sequencing confirmed the Rinjani scops owl was a different species—which has since been named Otus jolandae. “We’re realizing there’s a lot more diversity in plants and animals than we might have expected, just based on their physical appearance,” said one ornithologist. You can read the original scientific paper in full at PLoS ONE.

This undated photo taken by independent researcher Philippe Verbelen,  shows a Rinjani Scops owl perching on a tree on Lombok island, Indonesia.
This undated photo taken by independent researcher Philippe Verbelen, shows a Rinjani Scops owl perching on a tree on Lombok island, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/PLOS ONE, Philippe Verbelen)
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