30 November 2016

Dinovember 2016, Day 30

In loving memory of Campephilus principalis, Mid-Pleistocene - AD 1944. 
Name: Campephilus principalis
Meaning: chief grub-lover
Time: Holocene, c 70 years ago
Place: southeastern United States
Size: 53 centimetres (21 inches) long, wingspan over 76 centimetres (30 inches)
Type of Dinosaur: picid piciform (woodpecker)

Hey, nobody said this was Non-Avian Dinovember! And this bird is, sadly, an extinct dinosaur just like the preceding 29 entries. Campephilus principalis, or as it is better known, the ivory-billed woodpecker, was one of the biggest woodpecker species, inhabiting the extensive swamp forests of the Deep South until the 1940s. These impressive birds needed large swathes of land to sustain themselves, and excessive logging in the late 19th and early 20th centuries destroyed their habitats, leading to the woodpeckers becoming vanishingly rare by around the '30s, and the last confirmed sighting of an ivory-billed woodpecker in the United States was in 1944. Sporadic sightings have cropped up since then, most notably around 2005 when there was rather great furore in the ornithological world about the 'rediscovery' of the ivory-bill, but any hard evidence remains to be seen. It's more likely that the magnificent ivory-billed woodpecker really has vanished into extinction, like so many other dinosaurs before it.

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