Saturday, December 03, 2005

Hawaii Had Ducks with Eyes in the Back of Their Heads

It's like I've always said—go digging in Hawaiian sinkholes and you're bound to find some strange fossils:
The Makauwahi Sinkhole, the largest limestone cave complex in the Hawaiian Islands, is yielding an unprecedented look into Hawai'i's history, with a record of life that dates back 10,000 years.

. . . .

The site also has turned out to be the richest fossil site in the Hawaiian Islands. Burney and his fellow diggers have found the bones of at least 45 species of birds. There are strange creatures, such as turkey-sized flightless ducks and a tiny duck with eyes near the back of its head that may have been a night-feeding creature with some characteristics of New Zealand's kiwi. There are the remains of owls, a bat, a gull and several forest birds that are all now extinct.

Link (emphasis added). Although it's of course a very rudimentary rendering, we do have a rough sketch of what such a contorted duck might have looked like:
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