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A new species of rail (Aves: Rallidae) from the Upper Pleistocene and Holocene of Eivissa (Pityusic Islands, western Mediterranean)


*Corresponding author: Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats, Cta de Valldemossa km 7,5. 07071 Palma de Mallorca.


A new species of rail is described from a Pleistocene and Holocene cave deposit on the island of Eivissa, Pityusic Islands (western Mediterranean Sea). Rallus eivissensis sp. nov. was an insular relative of the European Water Rail Rallus aquaticus. Compared with the extant Water Rail, the new species was smaller and stouter, had shorter and more robust hind limbs and shorter wings, with probably reduced flight ability. The Pityusics were the only Mediterranean islands with a vertebrate Quaternary fauna lacking terrestrial mammals, and this absence is no doubt related to the Eivissan rail evolution. The chronology of the Rallus eivissensis sp. nov. extinction overlaps broadly with a period of uncertainty for the arrival of humans at Eivissa, suggesting a relationship between the two events.