Neuere kultur - und naturgeschichtliche Zeugnisse vom Waldrapp Geronticus eremita

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1997
Authors:E. Mey
Journal:Rudolstädter Naturhistorische Schriften
Pagination:3 - 17
Date Published:1997

Up until the 16th or 17th centuries, the Northern boundary of the breeding range of the Northern bald ibis in Europe was possibly as far North as Thuringian Forest of east central Germany. This proposition is supported by :1. A representation of a Northern bald ibis on the romanesque capital of a column (second half of the 12th century) in the Landgrafenhaus in the Wartburg castle near Eisenach in western Thuringia. A further four representations in the same building can only be tentatively interpreted as being of the species. 2. A water-coloured drawing from the first half of the 17th century, showing an adult Northern bald ibis which had been shot on Southern Thuringia ('on an old ruin', probably near Eishausen in the present district of Hildburghausen). This is the first record of the species for Thuringia. The artist who made this drawing, which is in a collection called 'Painted Birds' in the Gotha engravings gallery, was probably 'H. Löber'. This lifelike drawing is here compared with other historical representations of the Northern bald ibis. It is annotated by Landgraf Friedrich von Hessen (1616-1682). According to this annotations, he has seen a captive bald ibis in Laye (France), where it was known as the 'Corneille de monts Pyrenée´. This is apparently the first definite historical evidence for the occurrence of the Northern bald ibis in France. The mention be the great Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner of a Northern bald ibis population in Lorraine (treated sceptically by other authorities) therefore appears more plausible. Attention is drawn to the fact that if the Northern bald ibis does indeed become extinct, as looks increasingly likely, then its host specific parasite fauna, including many unknown or little known species, will also disappear forever. Three chewing lice species (Insecta: Phthiraptera; Amblycera and Ischnocera) , illustrated here with brief commentaries, live on the Northern bald ibis: Colpocephalum eremitae, Plegadiphilus geronticus and Ardeicola geronticorum, the last species also being found on the Southern bald Ibis. The chewing lice findings support the view that the nearest living relative of Geronticus eremita is the Southern bald ibis G. calvus of South Africa.

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