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Fiji (En) - Фиджи (Ru) - Fidji (Fr) - Fidschi (De) - Fiji (Sp)

2006 (Aug.15) Extinct Fijian Megafauna (4v set) - Вымершая мегафауна Фиджи (4м.) †

(Sc.)(Mi.)(Yv.)(SG )      50c  Volia athollandersoni - Fijian Terrestrial Crocodile (En) † [!name error on stamp] 00297
(Sc.)(Mi.)(Yv.)(SG )   $1.10  Natunaornis gigoura - Viti Levu Giant Pigeon (En) †
(Sc.)(Mi.)(Yv.)(SG )   $1.20  Vitirallus watlingi - Viti Levu Rail (En) †
(Sc.)(Mi.)(Yv.)(SG )   $1.50  Platymantis megabotoniviti - Giant Fiji ground frog (En) †




Megavitiornis altirostris - Giant Fiji megapodes †


August 15th, 2006  

Fiji has never been particularly noted for the diversity of its fauna – as observed by R. A. Derrick in his authoritative geography. The Fiji Islands (1957:153): “The indigenous [mammalian] fauna of Fiji appears to have been limited to a flying-fox, which is not a fox but a bat, and a small grey rat. Dogs and pigs were introduced at an early period, probably from Polynesia. “Subsequent research has determined that there are at least six species of bat, but otherwise this is a fair summary, with a small number of snakes, lizards and frogs completing the picture.

Recently, however, advances in pale zoology, the scientific study of extinct animals, combined with astute field research, have led to the discovery that Fiji was once home to a large variety of animals and birds, some considerably larger than their relatives that survive today, which became extinct very soon after the human settlement of the islands. As Darwin observed in the Galapagos Islands, animals that have not been accustomed to people have no fear of humans as predators, and where they are not protected they quickly become extinct, like the dodo of Mauritius, or the moa of New Zealand. This appears to have been the sad fate of much of Fiji’s original fauna – possibly within only 50 years of initial occupation by humans, some 3,000 years ago.

Most of the discoveries of fossil material in Fiji were made by the New Zealand paleontologist Trevor Worthy and staff of the Fiji Museum in a number of limestone caves. Two are near Volivoli, just north of the celebrated sand dunes of Sigatoka, Nadroga, in the south-west of the main island of Vitilevu. One of these named Qaranivokai, which means ‘cave of the iguana’. Other caves in which copious material has been found are at Wailotua in the Wainibuku valley, in inland northern Vitilevu, and at Wainibuku, near Suva in south-east Vitilevu. These caves appear to have formed natural pitfalls, so that animals fell into them through holes or cracks and remained entombed there until they died. Their bones then became embedded and preserved in layers of sediment.

Among this lost fauna are a number of megapodes (incubator birds), a tortoise, a crocodile, a ground pigeon, a rail, a frog, and a giant iguana.This series of stamps focuses on five of these giant creatures of Fiji’s past.

50c – Fiji crocodile (Volia athollandersoni) This terrestrial crocodile belongs to the family Mekosuchidae, other species of which were present in Vanuatu and New Caledonia. All are now extinct. It was small for a crocodile, but nevertheless would have been the most feared animal in Fiji before human settlement. It is named after Professor Atholl Anderson, the Australian archaeologist who directed the project which resulted in the discovery of its fossil remains. There are number of reports of crocodiles being found in Fiji in the past couple of hundred years, but these are almost certainly vagrant saltwater crocodiles that drifted from the Solomon Islands or Vanuatu.

$1.10 – Vitilevu giant pigeon (Natunaornis gigoura) This is a giant flightless pigeon, up to 80cm (32 inches) tall, only slightly smaller than the fabled dodo of Mauritius. Though the remains of many large extinct pigeons have been discovered in the Pacific region, this is easily the largest. It probably fed mainly on fallen fruit and land molluscs and crab. It was named in honour of Kiniviliame Natuna, the senior chief of Volivoli in Nadroga, where the fossil remains of this bird were first discovered.

$1.20 – Vitilevu (Vitirallus watlingi) This flightless rail was similar to the widespread banded rail of Fiji (bici in Fijian), but with a distinct long, slender, curved bill. It was probably confined largely to the drier western parts of Vitilevu, and succumbed to predation by people who arrived in Fiji some 3,000 years ago, and the accompanying rats. The genius name is composed of Viti, the Fijian name of the Fiji Islands, plus rallus, the Latin word for ‘rail’. The species is named after Fiji’s foremost naturalist and environmentalist, Dr Dick Watling.

$1.50 – Giant Fiji ground frog (Platymantis megabotoniviti) This was a large ground frog almost twice the size of its surviving relatives, the Fiji ground frog (Platymantis vitianus) and the Fiji tree frog (Platymantis vitiensis). It was probably eaten to extinction by the first inhabitants of Fiji, and the rats (Rattus exulans and Rattus preator) that arrived with them. Its specific name is derived from botoniviti, the modern Fijian name for the native frogs, with the Greek prefix mega- meaning ‘great’.

First Day Cover – Giant Fiji megapodes (Megavitiornis altirostris) A megapodes is a chicken-like bird with large powerful feet that does not hatch its eggs but buries them under leaves or in soil, often near active volcanoes, so that they incubate by themselves (hence the other common English name “incubator bird”). There are no megapodes in Fiji today, but they are still found in Tonga and the Solomon Islands. Even before their remains were discovered in Fiji, it was believed that they must have lived here, in order for their ancient name, malau, to have survived as far east as Tonga. There is now evidence for at least three species of megapodes in Fiji, all probably long since hunted to extinction for their flesh and their eggs. The scientific name of this new genus, Megavitiornis, means “large Fiji bird”

Technical details

Values 50c, $1.10, $1.20, $1.50
Stamp Artist George Bennett
Text Paul Geraghty
Printer Southern Colour Print - NZ
Process Offset Lithography
Stamp Size 28mm x 44mm
Stamp Format 2 Landscape and 2 Portrait
Paper 104g Tullis Russell Non Phosphor Gummed Stamp Paper


Ссылки - Links
Stamps of Fiji http://www.stampsfiji.com/stamps/megafauna/index.html












 Начато: 14.03.2007   Обновлено: 15.01.2009, 02.2010

Используются технологии uCoz