A team of ornithologists from New Zealand and Sweden has described a new genus (Paragallinula) for the bird species known as the lesser moorhen.
Previously, the species belonged to the genus Gallinula, but key differences became apparent upon further study, confirming the independent evolutionary lineages of each. The team published their work in the European Journal of Taxonomy.
Dr George Sangster from the Swedish Museum of Natural History named the new genus. “The generic name is derived from the Greek para (beside) and the Latin gallinula (a little hen or chicken),” the paper explains.
The team used molecular phylogenetic analysis to identify distinctions in genetic information compared to Gallinula. Physical differences were observed as well; the orange coloration on the frontal shield does not cover the entire shield, and the lack of a contrasting reddish band on the legs to the ankle joint area.
According to the scientists, Paragallinula angulata is found throughout Africa, from Senegal and Gambia to Ethiopia, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.