Peanut Island Rail. Phylum: Purgamentum

The beautiful flightless Peanut Island Rail.

The beautiful flightless Peanut Island Rail.

This creature is the first in the series that has a symbiotic relationship with the Homo sapiens. It is part of the Phylum: Purgamentum (Latin for rubbish, trash, filth, sweepings), of the rail family, Rallidae, and can only found on Peanut Island among the intracoastal waterways of Southern Florida. The Peanut Island Rail is the second smallest extant flightless bird in the world. (Second to its much better looking and cooler cousin the Inaccessible Island Rail.)

The Peanut Island Rail is characterized by rather unusual extensions of the skull. Only males exhibit these fibrous, tubular, cigarette-like forms, which appear to serve as a display for attracting mates. The number of cigarette butt-like structures, combined with the extent of smoldering, is thought to be correlated with age and social rank.

Peanut Island Rail detail of foul cigarette butt-like extensions of the skull.

Peanut Island Rail detail of cigarette butt-like extensions of the skull.

When frightened, the flightless Peanut Island Rail takes off sprinting across the sand, leaving behind a strong oder of trash and pineapple to confuse potential predators.

Until recently, scientists were baffled by the unusual boney fiber on the back of the bird’s lower leg. Now we know this particular type of rail walks the shore poking its legs down into rocky crevices, flossing the tight nooks and crannies in search of the small tidal organisms that make up the majority of its diet.

The Peanut Island Rail is now on the vulnerable conservation list. Its population numbers dropped dramatically in 2012. The reason for this decline is not well understood, though it correlates remarkably with a restriction alcohol possession at this popular spring break destination.

1 Comment

  1. Kathy Marine says:

    love your critters but find I have trouble logging on to this site if I want to “like” anything

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