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Kallie Szczepanski

Asian Natural History: Long-Lost Finch Visits the Sick

By October 22, 2012

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In 1929, Dutch ornithologist Jerome Sillem collected two grey finches with russet red heads in the Karakoram Mountains, today a hotly contested area between India, China, and Pakistan.  The specimens ended up in a drawer in Amsterdam's Zoological Museum, until they were identified as a new species by Kees Roselaar in 1992.  The two little bodies from 1929, dubbed Leucosticte sillemi, were the only known examples of the species.

In June of this year, though, a French photographer named Yann Muzika was trekking in Qinghai, China.  He had food poisoning, so couldn't go out for the trek with the rest of his party.  He stayed in camp, and took a picture of a pretty little finch... which turned out to be the long-lost Sillem's Mountain Finch, putting in a second appearance after 83 years!

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