Back sometime between 1843 and 1848 a bird now called the black-browed babbler was captured by naturalist Carl A.L.M. Schwaner. Records of the find are sketchy, but it appeared the bird had been captured on the island of Java. That finding was the one and only piece of evidence of the bird’s existence—it is currently labeled as “data deficient” in ornithology texts. The bird was put into storage, and for the next 170 years, there were no further reports of its existence. Over time, the bird and its history became known as “the biggest enigma in Indonesian ornithology.” Most in the field assumed it had gone extinct. Then, last year, a pair of researchers, Muhammad Rizky Fauzan and Muhammad Suranto captured a bird that they could not identify on the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo. They took pictures of it and sent them to colleagues, then released the bird. As the team conducted research on the bird in the pictures, it soon became clear that its description matched that of the bird in storage in the Netherlands. A closer look confirmed that it was indeed the same species—a living black-browed babbler.
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