New 'bald' bird discovered in Laos
A "bald" bird discovered in Laos is Asia's first new species of bulbul, a type of songbird, in more than 100 years, scientists say.
The scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Melbourne identified the bird, which has "a bald head", the society said in a news release on Thursday.
They reported their findings in the July issue of Forktail, the scientific journal of the Oriental Bird Club, a United Kingdom charity.
"This paper describes for the first time in over 100 years a new Asian species of bulbul," the scientists wrote of their discovery late last year in an area of limestone karsts in Laos's Savannakhet province.
"Its apparent restriction to rather inhospitable habitat helps to explain why such an extraordinary bird with conspicuous habits and a distinctive call has remained unnoticed for so long," said Iain Woxvold, the University of Melbourne scientist who was part of the team that made the discovery.
The bird, named the Bare-faced Bulbul, is not completely bald but has a narrow line of hair-like feathers down the centre of its crown. It also has a distinctive featherless, pink face with bluish skin around the eye extending to the bill, said the conservation society, which manages urban wildlife parks including the Bronx Zoo in New York.
Limestone karsts remain among the least studied ecosystems in Southeast Asia, Woxvold and the other scientists wrote in their journal article.