[Daily article] June 2: Red rail

The red rail (Aphanapteryx bonasia), now extinct, was a flightless rail,
found only on Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. A little larger than a
chicken, it had reddish, hairlike plumage, dark legs, and a long, curved
beak. The wings were small; rail species often became flightless when
adapting to isolated islands, free of mammalian predators. It is
believed to have fed on invertebrates, and snail shells have been found
with damage matching an attack by its beak. Until subfossil remains were
described in 1869, scientists only knew the red rail from 17th-century
descriptions and illustrations, incorrectly thought to represent several
species. It has been suggested that all late 17th-century accounts of
the dodo actually referred to the red rail, after the former had become
extinct. The last mention of a red rail sighting is from 1693. The
species is thought to have been hunted to extinction around 1700 by
introduced species and also by humans, who took advantage of red rails’
attraction to red coloured cloth to lure them and beat them with sticks.

Read more:

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Today’s selected anniversaries:

1805:

Napoleonic Wars: A Franco-Spanish fleet recaptured Diamond
Rock, an uninhabited island at the entrance to the bay leading to Fort-
de-France, from the British.

1866:

Fenian raids: The Battle of Ridgeway, the first to be fought
only by Canadian troops and led exclusively by Canadian officers, took
place in Ontario.

1967:

German university student Benno Ohnesorg was killed during a
protest in West Berlin against the visit of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah
of Iran, sparking the formation of the militant group 2 June Movement.

1999:

Bhutan ended its status as the only country in the world to
prohibit television when the state-run Bhutan Broadcasting Service came
on the air.

2010:

A lone gunman went on a shooting spree in Cumbria, England,
killing 12 people and injuring 11 others before committing suicide.

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Wiktionary’s word of the day:

couch:
1. To lie down; to recline (upon a couch or other place of repose).
2. (archaic) To lie down for concealment; to conceal, to hide; to be
concealed; to be included or involved darkly or secretly.
3. To bend the body, as in reverence, pain, labor, etc.; to stoop; to
crouch.
4. (transitive) To lay something upon a bed or other resting place.
5. (transitive) To arrange or dispose as if in a bed.
6. (transitive) To lay or deposit in a bed or layer; to bed.
7. (transitive) To lower (a spear or lance) to the position of attack.
8. (ophthalmology, transitive) In the treatment of a cataract in the eye,
to displace the opaque lens with a sharp object such as a needle. The
technique is regarded as largely obsolete.
9. (paper-making, transitive) To transfer (for example, sheets of partly
dried pulp) from the wire mould to a felt blanket for further drying.
10. (sewing, transitive) To attach a thread onto fabric with small stitches
in order to add texture.
11. To phrase in a particular style; to use specific wording for.

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Wikiquote quote of the day:

  I remind young people everywhere I go, one of the worst things the
older generation did was to tell them for twenty-five years “Be
successful, be successful, be successful” as opposed to “Be great, be
great, be great”. There’s a qualititative difference.  
–Cornel West

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