Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Huia louse: extinct before being discovered!

Most New Zealanders have heard of the huia (Heteralocha acutirostris), a beautiful bird that became extinct in the early part of the 20th century.But did you know that the huia had its own special species of louse (Rallicola extinctus)?
  • When the huia went extinct, so did its insect companion.
  • Specimens of the louse, which would have crawled around in and fed on the feathers of the bird, have been recovered from 100-year-old huia skins preserved in museums.
  • Because the louse was only recently discovered on the old huia skins, nobody has ever seen it alive.