An extinct species of spotted goose It was discovered during the examination of a well-known Egyptian painting dating back 4,500 years.
It is a bird hunting scene with net painted in stucco in the mastaba of Nefermaat and his wife Atet. The work, known as Ocas de Meidum, is kept in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo.
The University of Queensland scientist, Anthony Romilio, said the strange but beautiful bird was quite different from modern red-breasted geese (branta ruficollis), with distinct and striking colors and patterns on its body, face, chest, wings and legs.
The strange bird was quite different from modern red-breasted geese (branta ruficollis).
“The painting, Ocas de Meidum, has been admired since its discovery in the 19th century and described as the Mona Lisa of Egypt. Apparently no one realized that it represented an unknown species. The artistic license could explain the differences with modern geese, but the works of art on this site have extremely realistic representations of other birds and mammals, “Romilio explained in a statement.
Romilio said that no bones of red-breasted geese (Branta ruficollis) had been found at any Egyptian archaeological site. “Interestingly, they have been found bones of a bird similar but not identical in Crete. From a zoological perspective, the Egyptian artwork is the only documentation of this distinctively patterned goose, which now appears to be globally extinct. “
Romilio said that extinct animals had been previously identified in ancient art, but not all species had been scientifically confirmed. “I applied the Tobias criteria (species delimitation) to the goose, along with other types of geese in the fresco, “he said.
“This is a very effective method of identifying species, using quantitative measures of key bird characteristics, and greatly enhances the value of the information for the zoological science and ecological “, affirmed.
Dr. Romilio said that Egypt was not always predominantly desert and had “a biodiverse history, rich in extinct species. Its ancient culture arose when the sahara was green and it was covered with grasslands, lakes and forests, teeming with various animals, many of which were represented in tombs and temples. So far, science has confirmed the identity of relatively few of these species. “