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Wednesday, 8th February 2012
In General Japan News,

'Extinct' seabird discovered on Japanese island

A seabird that had previously been thought extinct has been discovered on the Japanese island of Chichijima, in the chain of Ogasawara islands.

The discovery of the Bryan's shearwater bird by researchers from the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute has been hailed as a major find, with the bird last seen around 20 years ago on Midway Island close to Hawaii, the Mainichi Daily reported.

Based in Tsukuba in the Ibaraki Prefecture, the researchers made the discovery on the island around 1,000km south of the Japanese capital, Tokyo.

The rediscovery of a bird thought to be extinct last happened some 60 years ago when the albatross was found to still be alive.

Kazuto Kawakami, chief researcher at the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, told the news provider: "It is believed that several hundred shearwaters inhabit Ogasawara, including uninhabited islands where some of them were found last year.

"I assume their concrete rediscovery was delayed because of the rough seas during the winter - thought to be their breeding season - have kept researchers away from the area."

Measuring between 25 and 30cm in length, six birds thought to be Bryan's shearwaters have been spotted on the Ogasawara islands since 1997 and were kept as specimens.

The research team has now examined their DNA and confirmed that each of them was in fact the extinct bird.

With a Bryan's shearwater last captured in 1963, the researchers who made the discovery have proposed a new Japanese name for the bird.

Having been found on the Ogasawara islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the name 'Ogasawara Hime-mizunagidori' has been proposed.

The research team's findings were presented in Hawaii today (February 8th).

Last month, scientists in Japan discovered the biological technique by which dogs prevent their core body temperature decreasing when their bare feet are standing on freezing ground.

Written by Kimberley Homer