Lazarus taxon

Lazarus taxon

In paleontology, a Lazarus taxon (plural "taxa") is a taxon that disappears from one or more periods of the fossil record, only to appear again later. The term refers to the account in the Gospel of John chapter 11 in which Jesus miraculously raises Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus taxa are observational artifacts that appear to occur either because of (local) extinction, later resupplied, or as a sampling artifact. If the extinction is conclusively found to be total (global or worldwide) and the supplanting species is not a lookalike (an Elvis species), the observational artifact is overcome. The fossil record is inherently imperfect (only a very small fraction of organisms become fossilized) and contains gaps not necessarily caused by extinction, particularly when the number of individuals in a taxon becomes very low. If these gaps are filled by new fossil discoveries, a taxon will no longer be classified as a Lazarus taxon.


The terms "Lazarus effect" or "Lazarus species" have also found some acceptance in "neontology" — the study of extant organisms, as contrasted with paleontology — as an organism that is rediscovered alive after having been widely considered extinct for years (a recurring IUCN Red List species for example). Examples include the Wollemi pine, the Jerdon's courser, the ivory-billed woodpecker (disputed), the Mahogany Glider and the takahē, a flightless bird endemic to New Zealand.cite book
last = Shuker
first = Karl P N
authorlink = Karl Shuker
title = The New Zoo: New and Rediscovered Animals of the Twentieth Century
publisher = House of Stratus
year = 2002
] It should be noted, however, that being "extinct" strongly relates to the sampling intensity and the whims of the IUCN, and that such a period of "apparent" extinction is too short for species to be designated as "Lazarus taxa" (in its paleontological meaning).

Lazarus taxa that reappear in nature after being known only as old enough fossils can be seen as an informal subcategory of the journalist's "living fossils", because a taxon cannot become globally extinct and reappear. If the original taxon went globally extinct, the new taxon must be an Elvis taxon. On the other hand, all species "correctly considered living fossils" (with all conditions fulfilled, living and found through a considerable part of the geologic timescale) cannot be Lazarus taxa.

Reappearing species

Reappearing fossil taxa

* Coelacanth ("Latimeria"), a member of a clade (Coelacanthimorpha) thought to have gone extinct 80 million years ago; found in 1938.
*Monoplacophora, a class of Molluscs believed to have gone extinct in the middle Devonian Period (c. 380 million years ago) until living members were discovered in deep water off Costa Rica in 1952.
* Laotian Rock Rat ("Laonastes aenigmamus"), a member of a clade (Diatomyidae) thought to have gone extinct 11 million years ago; found in 1996.
* Monito del Monte ("Dromiciops"), a member of a clade (Microbiotheria) thought to have gone extinct 11 million years ago.
* "Lazarussuchus", an Oligocene member of a clade of freshwater reptiles (Choristodera) thought to have gone extinct at the end of the Mesozoic. As "Lazarussuchus" is thought to be outside the clade including other choristoderans, it may indicate a ghost lineage going back to the Late Triassic, a span of over 170 million years.
* "Gracilidris", a genus of dolichoderine ants thought to have gone extinct 15-20 million years ago was found in Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina and described in 2006.

Reappearing IUCN red list species

** Mount Diablo buckwheat ("Eriogonom truncatum") — Thought extinct around 1935 but found again in 2005.
** Furbish's lousewort ("Pedicularis furbishiae") - Canadian species identified as an extinct species in 1880, rediscovered in the 1970s.
** "Camellia piquetiana", long known only from 19th century herbarium specimens labeled as "Thea piquetiana" until it was rediscovered in Vietnam in 2003.
** Blunt Chaff Flower ("Achyranthes mutica")
** Climbing Alsinidendron ("Alsinidendron viscosum")
** Jellyfish tree ("Medusagyne oppositifolia")
** She cabbage tree ("Lachanodes arborea")
** Virginia Round-leaf Birch ("Betula uber")
** Sicilian Fir ("Abies nebrodensis")
** "Afrothismia pachyantha"
** "Antirhea tomentosa"
** "Asplundia clementinae"
** "Badula platyphylla"
** "Bulbophyllum filiforme"
** "Cyanea dunbariae"
** "Cyanea procera"
** "Eugenia bojeri"
** "Mammillaria schwarzii "
** "Medemia argun"
** "Pittosporum tanianum"
** "Takhtajania perrieri"
** "Turbinicarpus gielsdorfianus"
** Madeiran land snail ("Discus guerinianus") — Thought extinct in 1996 but found again in 1999.
** Lord Howe Island stick insect ("Dryococelus australis") — Rediscovered in 2001.
** Giant Palouse earthworm ("Driloleirus americanus"); thought extinct in 1980s, but found again in 2006.
** "Xylotoles costatus", New Zealand longhorn beetle, considered extinct from 1986 to 1996, found again on Chatham Islands [IUCN2006|assessors=C.A. McGuinness|year=2004|id=23161|title=Xylotoles costatus|downloaded=17 March 2007]
** "Prionomyrmex macrops", Australian ant discovered in 1931, not seen again until 1977.
** Canterbury knobbed weevil ("Karocolens tuberculatus"), last seen in 1922 until it was rediscovered near Lake Tekapo in December 2004.
** Armoured Frog ("Litoria lorica")
** Painted frog ("Atelopus ebenoides marinkellei") Believed extinct 1995, rediscovered in 2006.
** "Atelopus laetissimus"
** "Atelopus nahumae"
** "Bufo cristatus"
** "Bufo sumatranus"
** "Isthmohyla rivularis"
** "Ixalotriton niger"
** "Philautus chalazodes"
** "Taudactylus rheophilus"
** "Thorius minutissimus"
** "Telmatobufo venustus" was not seen from 1899 until 1999.

** La Palma Giant Lizard ("Gallotia auaritae") Thought to have been extinct since 1500, but rediscovered in 2007.
** La Gomera Giant Lizard ("Gallotia bravoana")
** "Phoboscincus bocourti", a 50-cm-long lizard, was previously known from a single specimen captured around 1870 and was long presumed extinct. In 2003, on a tiny islet, it was rediscovered.
** New Caledonian Crested Gecko
** Arakan Forest Turtle, last seen in 1908 but found again in 1994.
** Fernandina rice rat ("Nesoryzomys fernandinae") — Thought extinct in 1996 (last seen 1980) but found again in late 1990s.
** Bavarian pine vole ("Microtus bavaricus") - believed extinct in the 1960s, but rediscovered in 2000.
** Woolly flying squirrel ("Eupetaurus cinereus") - known only from pelts collected in Pakistan in the late nineteenth century, until live specimens were collected in the 1990s.
** Yellow-tailed woolly monkey ("Lagothrix flavicauda")
** Gilbert's Potoroo ("Potorous gilbertii"), extremely rare Australian mammal presumed extinct from 1800s until 1994.
** Central Rock Rat ("Zyzomys pedunculatus")
** New Holland Mouse ("Pseudomys novaehollandiae") was first described by George Waterhouse in 1843, it vanished from view for over a century before its rediscovery in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park north of Sydney, in 1967.
** Brazilian Arboreal Mouse (Rhagomys rufescens)
** Philippine bare-backed fruit bat ("Dobsonia chapmani")
** Flat-Headed Myotis ("Myotis planiceps")
** Tammar Wallaby ("Macropus eugenii eugenii"), this Australian subspecies was presumed extinct from 1925 until genetically matched with imported species in New Zealand in 1998.
** Cuban Solenodon ("Atopogale cubanus"), thought to have been extinct until a live specimen was found in 2003.
** Burchell's Zebra ("Equus quagga burchellii"), thought to have been extinct, in 1918 until live specimens were found in 2004.
** Giant Lemur thought to be extinct in 1865 but rediscovered in 2008
** Ivory-billed woodpecker ("Campephilus principalis") — Thought extinct circa 1987 before unconfirmed sightings in 1999 and 2004.
** Jerdon's Courser ("Rhinoptilus bitorquatus") — A wader from India, assumed extinct until 1986.
** Madagascar serpent-eagle ("Eutriorchis astur") - rediscovered in 1993, sixty years since the previous sighting.
** Grand Comoro scops-owl ("Otus pauliani").
** Takahe ("Porphyrio hochstetteri") — Assumed extinct in 1898 but found again in 1948.
** New Zealand storm-petrel — Believed extinct from 1850 but sighted again in 2003.
** Bermuda Petrel or "Cahow" ("Pterodroma cahow") — Thought extinct since 1620 until three dozen were found in 1951 on a remote, uninhabited rock outcropping in Bermuda.
** Forest Owlet ("Heteroglaux blewitti") — Assumed extinct in the 19th century, but rediscovered in central India in 1997.
** Night Parrot ("Pezoporus occidentalis"), extremely rare Australian bird presumed extinct from 1880s until 1990.
** Edwards's Pheasant ("Lophura edwardii"), a Vietnamese pheasant presumed extinct from 1928 was rediscovered in 1998.
** Bruijn's Brush-turkey ("Aepypodius bruijnii")
** Madagascar Pochard ("Aythya innotata"), thought extinct since 1991 until a small group were spotted in 2006.
** Caatinga Woodpecker ("Celeus obrieni"), a Brazilian woodpecker feared extinct after no specimen had been found since its discovery in 1926. Rediscovered in 2006.
** Cone-billed Tanager ("Conothraupis mesoleuca") a Tanager species that was undetected from 1938 to 2003, but was then rediscovered in gallery forest in Emas National Park.
** White-winged Guan (Penelope albipennis)
** Large-billed Reed-warbler ("Acrocephalus orinus"), a warbler rediscovered in Thailand in 2006, previous known only from a specimen collected in India in 1867.
** Utila Chachalaca ("Ortalis vetula deschauenseei"), subspecies of the Plain Chachalaca from Honduras, not recorded between 1963 and 2000 and confirmed with a photograph in 2005
** São Tomé Fiscal ("Lanius newtoni")
** Stresemann's Bristlefront ("Merulaxis stresemanni")

ee also

* Elvis taxon
* Signor-Lipps effect
* Living fossil
* List of extinct animals
* List of fossil sites "(with link directory)"
* Zombie taxon


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