From today's featured article
The Rodrigues starling (Necropsar rodericanus) is an extinct species of starling that was endemic to the Mascarene island of Rodrigues. Its closest relatives were the Mauritius starling and the hoopoe starling from nearby islands. The bird was reported by a French sailor Julien Tafforet, who was marooned on the island from 1725 to 1726. He observed it on the offshore islet of Île Gombrani. Subfossil remains (pictured) from the mainland were described in 1879, and suggested to be of the same species. Confusion about the bird and its taxonomic relations persisted through the 20th century. This starling was 25–30 centimetres (10–12 inches) long, and had a stout beak. It was described as having a white body, partially black wings and tail, and a yellow bill and legs. Little is known about its behaviour, although its diet included eggs and dead tortoises. Predation by rats introduced to the area was probably responsible for the bird's extinction some time in the 18th century, first on mainland Rodrigues, then on Île Gombrani. (Full article...)
Did you know ...
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- ... that the Breton saint Goulven of Léon may have been confused with a legendary murderer and rapist featured in the poem "Gwerz Skolan", giving rise to a number of place names with elements of both individuals?
- ... that station staff had to throw snowballs to knock the ice off the aging transmitter of radio station KWCR-FM at Weber State University in Utah?
- ... that the 1996 racing video game Monster Truck Madness was designed to accurately simulate monster-truck events such as drag tracks and enclosed circuit races?
- ... that Indian writer Malayanil was a pioneer of modern short-story writing in the Gujarati language?
- ... that U.S. representative John Conyers proposed legislation to create a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. during every session of Congress from 1968 to 1983, when the bill finally passed?
- ... that Abel Azcona is known as the "enfant terrible" of Spanish contemporary art?
- ... that four men sued the city of West Bend, Wisconsin, for the right to burn Baby Be-Bop publicly in 2009?
In the news
On this day
- 1860 – The Pony Express (stamp shown), a mail service that became the most direct means of long-distance communication across the United States before the first transcontinental telegraph, began operation.
- 1888 – Emma Elizabeth Smith was killed in the first of eleven unsolved murders of women that took place in or near the impoverished Whitechapel district in the East End of London.
- 1922 – Joseph Stalin became the first general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
- 1948 – Division of Korea: A communist uprising began on Jeju Island, eventually leading to the deaths of thousands of individuals and atrocities committed by both sides, including the violent suppression of the rebellion by South Korean forces.
- 2000 – In United States v. Microsoft Corp., Microsoft was found to have violated antitrust law by bundling the web browser Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system.