Nature today | Dalmatian Pelican: Expect more archaeological discoveries

A deceased pelican was recently made available to science by Blijdorp and transferred to the Cultural Heritage Agency. The bird is prepared and the bones are included in the archaeological comparison group. This makes it easier for archaeologists to name bird bones from the fossils. They were often not too Determine due to lack of comparative material. From now on it can be compared to the bones that are definitely pelicans. It is now expected that bone fragments are now often attributed to the swan.

The main role: the Dalmatian pelican in its environment

Estuaries and peat lakes

Dalmatian pelicans were found in estuaries and low-lying swampy areas of the Dutch coastal regions until the 15th century. Eleven finds from archaeological excavations showed that the species lived in the northwestern half of the Netherlands. there feed It is in shallow pools and staggered in pure areas. Unfortunately, hunting and loss of suitable habitat has changed that.

In addition to the Netherlands, historical sights are known from England, Germany, Denmark and even Sweden and Finland. Until the Middle Ages, there was still a large population of northern Europeans. There is no evidence that these birds migrated south in the winter. There are also no known sightings (yet?) from that period from countries such as Spain and France. Hopefully, strengthening the reference group will give us a more accurate picture of the historical distribution in the future.

The Historical Discoveries of the Dalmatian Pelican in Northwest Europe

Only here in the zoo

Today, this species is no longer found in the wild in Holland, but it can be admired in various zoos. The largest group is located in the Diergaarde Blijdorp in Rotterdam, where at present there is a colony of about forty birds. Young people are born in this colony every year. Abroad, distribution is now almost limited to southeastern Europe. Greece (Lake Kerkini is famous for it) and the Danube Delta in Romania are also home to two species of swans.

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The fact that we are now experiencing the Dalmatian Pelican as a species from southeastern Europe and further east is a good example of how.Baselines conversionDefine our image of nature. Through the new collaboration between the zoo and science, the archaeological excavations have been scientifically enhanced and ecological research into the occurrence of the species in the Netherlands furthered.

more information

  • The Exploratory study (pdf; 6.5 MB) Prospects for the return of the Dalmatian pelican.
  • The the news Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE).

Text: Martin Weiss, Blijdorp Zoo & Leo Lenartz, ARK Nature Development
Photos: Cor Visser (main photo: Dalmatian pelicans on Lake Kerkini in Greece); Jeroen Helmer, ARK Nature Development; Pepin Cali and Jennifer Kress
Thanks to the Agency for Cultural Heritage and Zoo Blijdorp

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