A British tourist shocked scientists by discovering 3 extinct species

A 51-year-old British tourist has shocked scientists by rediscovering three three species that had been thought to be extinct.

Peruvian jungle (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Peruvian jungle
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A British tourist, enjoying their holiday in Papua New Guinea, recently discovered three species of animals thought to have been extinct. 

Michael Smith, a 51-year-old holiday-maker, was conversing with locals about birds when they told him of a colorful bird known as ‘Louisada pitta.’ 

It is worth noting that adventuring is just a hobby for Smith, who works full-time as the head of research and analytics for a medical communications agency.

Louisada pitta

The bird was described as looking similar to a robin and native to the lowland forests of an almost-unreachable island. This greatly sparked Smith’s curiosity.

Smith made his way through the jungle with a recording of a related species birdsong. After some wandering, the birdsong recording he was playing received a reply. 

Areas affected by landslides are seen after a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake, in Hela, Papua New Guinea February 26, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. Picture taken February 26, 2018. BERNARD JAMES MCQUEEN /via REUTERS (credit: BERNARD JAMES MCQUEEN/VIA REUTERS)Areas affected by landslides are seen after a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake, in Hela, Papua New Guinea February 26, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. Picture taken February 26, 2018. BERNARD JAMES MCQUEEN /via REUTERS (credit: BERNARD JAMES MCQUEEN/VIA REUTERS)

Immediately, Smith took a picture of the bird. This bird was later identified by scientists and Smith was told that the bird was thought to be extinct. 

Dr Ian Burfield, global science coordinator at BirdLife International, said: "It is great to have the bird’s presence confirmed."

Teleformin Susus

On the same trip, Smith decided to go adventuring again. This time to find a Telefomin Susus. A Telefomin Susus is a type of possum, which was also thought to have gone extinct after 1997. 

Smith discovered the species after climbing 1000 meters up a mountain. 

Up the mountain, Smith discovered a local tribe cooking the possum. While that may seem distressing, as the animal was thought to have been entirely extinct, Smith confirmed its continued existence through its skull.

Smith claimed that the tribe thought that he was a spirit, according to the Daily Star, who reported him saying “We went to villages quite near the road and found a local family had assembled dead cuscus’ they were going to eat as the cuscus is one of the main items of protein. At least I could see various cuscus’ before they’d ended up on dinner plates and was able to examine the bodies – once they had been eaten, I was able to photograph their skulls and take measurements”

Previous discoveries

These discoveries have become habit for Smith, who reportedly discovered a WondiWoi tree kangaroo in 2018. The Kangaroo was thought to be extinct as it hadn’t been seen since 1928.

“Tree kangaroos are tropical marsupials that are close relatives of ground-dwelling kangaroos and wallabies. These medium-sized kangaroos have muscled forearms to pull themselves up the trunks of trees and move around the branches using an odd mix of climbing and hopping,” according to National Geographic.