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Phalacrocorax perspicillatus

Phalacrocorax perspicillatus

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Cladus: Aequornithes
Ordo: Suliformes

Familia: Phalacrocoracidae
Genus: Phalacrocorax
Species: Phalacrocorax perspicillatus

Phalacrocorax perspicillatus Pallas, 1811

Extinct c. 1850.

Zoographia Rosso-Asiatica 2: 305.

Vernacular names
English: Pallas's Cormorant
日本語: メガネウ

The spectacled cormorant or Pallas's cormorant (Urile perspicillatus[2]) is an extinct marine bird of the cormorant family of seabirds that inhabited Bering Island and possibly other places in the Komandorski Islands and the nearby coast of Kamchatka in the far northeast of Russia.[1] The modern distribution was shown to be a relic of a wider prehistoric distribution in 2018 when fossils of the species from 120,000 years ago were found in Japan. It is the largest species of cormorant known to have existed.[3]


It was formerly classified in the genus Phalacrocorax, but in 2021, the IOC reclassified it and several other Pacific cormorant species into the genus Urile, based on a 2014 study that supported reclassifying the Brandt's, red-faced, and pelagic cormorants into that genus. Although the spectacled cormorant was not mentioned in the 2014 study and its current taxonomic position is unresolvable by the current phylogenies, it was also reclassified into Urile based on its perceived relatedness to those species.[4][5]
Turnaround video of a specimen, Naturalis Biodiversity Center

The species was first identified by Georg Steller in 1741 on Vitus Bering's disastrous second Kamchatka expedition. He described the bird as large, clumsy and almost flightless – though it was probably reluctant to fly rather than physically unable – and wrote "they weighed 12–14 pounds, so that one single bird was sufficient for three starving men." Though cormorants are normally notoriously bad-tasting, Steller says that this bird tasted delicious, particularly when it was cooked in the way of the native Kamchadals, who encased the whole bird in clay, buried it, and baked it in a heated pit.[6]

With a body mass estimated to be from 3.5 to 6.8 kg (7.7 to 15.0 lb) and a length up to around 100 cm (39 in), the spectacled cormorant was rather larger than all other known cormorants.[7][8] In a similar fashion to the extant flightless cormorant, which may have rivaled it in length but not weight, the spectacled cormorant is thought to have at least largely lost the power of flight which is borne out by the reduced sternum and wing chord of museum specimens.[9][10] This species was largely glossy black in color with a reported greenish gloss that may have been fairly vivid in bright light. A contrasting large white patch could be seen on its lower flanks just above the legs. Like other cormorants, they had small patches of bare skin about the face including a small gular patch and a small amount of bare skin around the eyes; these areas usually appeared to have been dull-yellow or grayish in hue but during breeding stages, they may changed to a bright orangey-reddish hue.[10]

Apart from the fact that it fed on fish, almost nothing else is known about the life history of this bird. The population declined quickly after further visitors to the area started collecting the birds for food and feathers, and their reports of profitable whaling grounds and large populations of Arctic foxes and other animals with valuable pelts led to a massive influx of whalers and fur traders into the region; the last birds were reported to have lived around 1850 on Ariy Rock (Russian: Арий Камень[11]) islet, off the northwestern tip of Bering Island.

A presumed prehistoric record from Amchitka Island, Alaska,[12] is based on misidentification of double-crested cormorant remains.[13]
See also

List of extinct birds
List of extinct animals of Asia
Steller's sea cow


BirdLife International (2016). "Urile perspicillatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22696750A93584099. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22696750A93584099.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
Phalacrocorax, Ancient Greek word for cormorants (literally "bald raven"). perspicillatus, Latin for "spectacled", in allusion of the birds' large size.
Watanabe, Junya; Matsuoka, Hiroshige; Hasegawa, Yoshikazu (October 2018). "Pleistocene fossils from Japan show that the recently extinct Spectacled Cormorant (Phalacrocorax perspicillatus) was a relict". The Auk. 135 (4): 895–907. doi:10.1642/AUK-18-54.1. hdl:2433/233910. S2CID 91465582.
"Classification of the cormorants of the world". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 79: 249–257. 1 October 2014. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2014.06.020. ISSN 1055-7903.
"Taxonomic Updates – IOC World Bird List". Retrieved 28 July 2021.
Ellis, Richard (2004). No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 135. ISBN 0-06-055804-0.
Hume, J. P., & Walters, M. (2012). Extinct birds (Vol. 217). A&C Black.
Grzimek, B. (1972). Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia: Birds I-III. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.
Roots, C. (2006). Flightless birds. Greenwood Publishing Group.
King, R. J. (2013). The Devil's Cormorant: a Natural History. University of New Hampshire Press.
Ariy Kamen. Often misspelled "Aji Kamen" or even "Aii Kimur".
Siegel-Causey, D.; Lefevre, C. & Savinetskii, A. B. (1991). "Historical diversity of cormorants and shags from Amchitka Island, Alaska" (PDF). Condor. 93 (4): 840–852. doi:10.2307/3247718. JSTOR 3247718.
Olson, Storrs L. (2005). "Correction of erroneous records of cormorants from archeological sites in Alaska". Condor. 107 (4): 930–933. doi:10.1650/7818.1. S2CID 84570578.

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