A new species? The Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise

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Is this a new species of bird-of-paradise? For centuries, the Superb Bird-of-Paradise from the Bird’s Head or Vogelkop region
of western New Guinea was thought to be the same species as the one found
throughout the rest of New Guinea: the now famous species with the otherworldly
bouncing black and blue smiley-face courtship dance. However, the calls of the Vogelkop males
sound different the females look different and new research shows that it is genetically distinct too. But the displays of the Vogelkop
form had never been documented So we traveled to the mountains of West Papua, Indonesia to film its courtship dance for the first time. and what we
discovered totally surprised us. In the initial stages of display, the Vogelkop form holds its cape in a striking spread-wing like position. Wereas in the widespread form the Cape stays folded over the back During the pointing display, the breast ornament of the Vogelkop form is hidden from view and the ornamental eye-spots shine like headlights at an approaching female. By contrast, the electric blue breast of the widespread form is always presented. Most strikingly, when the specialized cape is presented, the shape of the Vogelkop form is like a crescent instead of the familiar oval of the widespread form. and the blue breast feathers give the
Vogelkop form a distinctly “frowny-face” look that is quite different from the
now famous “smiley face” of the widespread form. And when the male’s perform their
dances for a female, the Vogelkop form circles with a quick gliding sidestep instead of the vigorous bouncing that’s a hallmark of the widespread form Does all this add up to the Vogelkop form being a separate species? We think so. And so do our scientist peers. The Vogelkop Super Bird-of-Paradise is the newest
addition to the bird-of-paradise family tree. It’s an exciting discovery that was
hiding under our noses all along. The Vogelkop Superb is now the fourth bird-of-paradise species endemic to the endemic to the Bird’s Head region of Indonesian New
Guinea. Now is the time to protect these forests
not just to ensure the future of these spectacular birds, but also to ensure the
future of all the biodiversity and people who live alongside them. Learn more about this discovery in our scientific paper documenting how the
distinct song, dance, and courtship appearance of the Vogelkop form confirms
its new species status

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