Tachygyia microlepis (Duméril & Bibron)

Short-legged Tongan Skink (Tachygyia microlepis)

The enigmatic Short-legged Tongan Skink was described in the year 1839.

This species, which may well have been endemic to the island of Tongatapu, is known from only two specimens that were collected during the L’Astrolabe expedition in 1827.

The Short-legged Tongan Skink was a quite large terrestrial species with somewhat reduced legs, it probably fell prey to the numerous feral mammals, like cats, dogs, pigs and rats, that had been imported to the Tongan islands, both by Polynesians and Europeans.

The species is now generally considered extinct.



[1] G. R. Zug; I. Ineich; G. Pregill; A. M. Hamilton: Lizards of Tonga with Description of a New Tongan Treeskink (Squamata: Scincidae: Emoia samoensis Group). Pacific Science 66(2): 225-237. 2012


Chloridops kona Wilson

Kona Grosbeak (Chloridops kona)

The Kona Grosbeak was discovered at the end of the 19th century, at that time it was restricted to a tiny, only about 10 km² large area in the north of the Kona district on the island of Hawai’i.

This rather plump and inconspicuous looking bird fed almost exclusively on the dried seeds of the Naio tree (Myoporum sandwicense (A. Gray)), and could often be located by the cracking sound of its feeding.

R. C. L. Perkins was one of the few people, that saw the bird in life, he wrote about it in the year 1893.:

The Palila (Chloridops kona), though an interesting bird on account of its peculiar structure, is a singularly uninteresting one in its habits. It is a dull, sluggish, solitary bird, and very silent – its whole existence may be summed up in the words “to eat.” Its food consists of the seeds of the fruit of the aaka (bastard sandal-tree [Myoporum sandwicense (A. Gray)], and probably in other seasons of those of the sandal-wood tree), and as these are very minute, its whole time seems to be taken up in cracking the extremely hard shells of this fruit, for which its extraordinarily powerful beak and heavy head have been developed. I think there must have been hundreds of the small white kernels in those that I examined. The incessant cracking of the fruits when one of these birds is feeding, the noise of which can be heard for a considerable distance, renders the bird much easier to see than it otherwise would be. … I never heard it sing (once mistook the young Rhodacanthis’ song for that of Chloridops), but my boy informed me that he had heard it once, and its song was not like that of Rhodacanthis. Only once did I see it display any real activity, when a male and female were in active pursuit of one another amongst the sandal-trees. Its beak is nearly always very dirty, with a brown substance adherent to it, which must be derived from the sandal-tree.

Note, that the name Palila is actually the Hawaiian vernacular name for another drepanidine bird species – Loxioides bailleui (Oustalet).

The last living Kona Grosbeaks were seen in the year 1894.



[1] R. C. L. Perkins: Notes on Collecting in Kona. The Ibis 6(5): 101-111. 1893
[2] D. Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986
[3] H. D. Pratt; P. L. Bruner; D. G. Berrett: A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press 1987
[4] E. Fuller: Extinct Birds. Penguin Books (England) 1987
[5] H. D. Pratt: The Hawaiian Honeycreepers: Drepanidinae. Oxford Univ. Pr. 2005


Depiction from: ‘W. Rothschild: The Avifauna of Laysan and the neighbouring islands with a complete history to date of the birds of the Hawaiian possession. 1893-1900’

by courtesy of Erin Clements Rushing


Dryophthorus distinguendus Perkins

Hawaiian Driftwood Weevil (Dryophthorus distinguendus)

The Hawaiian Driftwood Weevil was described in the year 1900.

The species was found first on the island of Laysan, namely in wooden boxes that came from the main islands. It was subsequently found also on nearly all of the other Hawaiian Islands (Hawai’i, Kure, Lana’i, Maui, Midway, Moloka’i, and O’ahu), but appears in lists of extinct species, which, in my opinion, is quite strange.



[1] R. C. L. Perkins: Coleoptera, Weevils. Bishop Museum Bulletin 31: 53-66. 1926

Minidonta extraria Cooke & Solem

Strange Disc Snail (Minidonta extraria)

This species was described in the year 1976 from three specimens, of which one was found on the island of Akamaru, one on the island of Mangareva, and one on the island of Taravai.

The shells reach an average size of 0,29 cm in diameter.



[1] Alan Solem: Endodontoid land snails from Pacific Islands (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Sigmurethra). Part I, Family Endodontidae. Field Museum of Natural History Chicago, Illinois 1976
[2] Ahmed Abdou; Philippe Bouchet: Nouveaux gastéropodes Endodontidae et Punctidae (Mollusca, Pulmonata) récemment éteints da l’archipel des Gambier (Polynésie). Zoosystema 22(4): 689-707. 2000

Endodonta apiculata Ancey

Pointed Disc Snail (Endodonta apiculata)

The Pointed Disc Snail, which was restricted to the island of Kaua’i, Hawaiian Islands, was described in the year 1889.

The shells of this species reached an average size of 0,6 cm in diameter. [1]


The genus Endodonta contains a little more than 10 species, all, except probably for one, are now obviously extinct.

The destruction of large areas of the native lowland habitats led to their extinction, and introduced invasive species, especially several aggressive ant species (for example the Red Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren) or the Little Fire Ant (Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger))) are a very serious threat to the last remaining endemic snail species, and are blamed for the extinction of many island endemic species. [2]



[1] Alan Solem: Endodontoid land snails from Pacific Islands (Mollusca: Pulmonata: Sigmurethra). Part I, Family Endodontidae. Field Museum of Natural History Chicago, Illinois 1976
[2] Norine W. Yeung; Kenneth A. Hayes: Update on the status of the remaining Hawaiian land snail species Part 4: Punctidae and Endodontidae. 2016


edited: 23.03.2017

Pomarea gambieranus (Lesson)

Mangarevan Flycatcher (Pomarea gambieranus)

This very enigmatic bird was found in the year 1840 on the island of Mangareva, the largest of the Gambier Islands, and was described in the year 1844 as Lanius gambieranus.

The sole known specimen does not exist anymore, as does the only depiction of this specimen. The description is not very meaningful, the bird had a size of 14 cm, was brown on the upper side, yellowish colored on the underside.


In my opinion, it is quite possible that this is indeed a monarch flycatcher species, possibly from the genus Pomarea or alternatively from another, yet completely distinct, now extinct genus.



[1] J.-C. Thibault; A. Cibois: From early Polynesian settlements to present: bird extinctions in the Gambier Islands. Pacific Science 66(3): 1-26. 2011

Cyrtandra campanulata Reinecke

Cyrtandra campanulata


Samoa: Savai’i, ‘Upolu

local names: –


This species may be extinct, it was last collected in 1905. [1]



[1] Art Whistler: Biodiversity Conservation Lessons Learned Technical Series. 2: The Rare Plants of Samoa. Conservation International 2011

Ischnura haemastigma Fraser

Bloodstain Forktail (Ischnura haemastigma)

This species was described in the year 1927 on the basis of a single male specimen, which was collected in the center of the island of ‘Upolu, at an elevation of about 610 m.

The head is mainly bright lemon yellow colored. The thorax is also lemon yellow colored and marked with black, the abdomen is dirty black in color, the last three segments are marked with blue. The legs are bright blood red in color.

The Bloodstain Forktail reaches a wingspan of about 3 cm, the wings are transparent, the pterostigma (wing mark) of the forewings is nearly square-shaped and crimson in color.

The first female specimen of this species were described in the year 1953. [1][2]


The status of the Bloodstain Forktail, like those of almost all endemic Samoan Dragonflies, is completely unknown, it was not recorded during recent field surveys and may in fact be extinct. [3]



[1] F. C. Fraser: Further notes on Samoan Odonata belonging to the ischnurine complex of species, with descriptions of two new species and some unknown females. Proceedings Royal Entomological Society London. Series B 22(7/8): 119-126. 1953
[2] M. Marinov; W. Chin; E. Edwards; B. Patrick; H. Patrick: A revised and updated Odonata checklist of Samoa (Insecta: Odonata). Faunistic Studies in South-East Asian and Pacific Island Odonata 5: 1-21. 2013
[3] Milen Marinov; Mark Schmaedick; Dan Polhemus; Rebecca L. Stirnemann; Fialelei Enoka; Pulemagafa Siaifoi Fa’aumu; Moeumu Uili: Faunistic and taxonomic investigations on the Odonata fauna of the Samoan archipelago with particular focus on taxonomic ambiguities in the “Ischnurine complex”. Journal of the International Dragonfly Fund 91: 1-56. 2015


Photo: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

(under creative commons license (4.0))


edited: 28.06.2017