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Storrs Lovejoy Olson[1 ] (born April 3, 1944[1 ] in Chicago, Illinois) is an American biologist and ornithologist from the Smithsonian Institution. He is one of the world's foremost avian paleontologists.[2]

An appointment with Alexander Wetmore in 1967 led him to his main research field of paleornithology[1 ] and to his work on Ascension Island and Saint Helena where he made remarkable discoveries in the 1970s, including the Giant Hoopoe[3] and the Saint Helena Crake.[3] In 1976 he met his future wife Helen F. James[1 ] who later became another known paleornithologist herself, focusing on Late Quaternary prehistoric birds.[4]

During their pioneering research work on Hawaii, which lasted 23 years, Olson and James found and described the remains of 50 extinct bird species new to science, including the Nēnē-nui,[5], the Moa-nalos[5] the apteribises,[5] and the Grallistrix "stilt-owls".[5] In 1982, he discovered subfossil bones of the long ignored Brace's Emerald on the Bahamas, which gave evidence that this hummingbird is a valid and distinct species.[6] In November 1999, Olson wrote an open letter to the National Geographic Society, in which he criticized Christopher P. Sloan's claims about the dinosaur-to-bird transition which referred to the fake species Archaeoraptor.[7] In 2000, he helped to resolve the mystery of Necropsar leguati from the World Museum Liverpool, which turned out to be an albinistic specimen of the Grey Trembler.[8]

Olson was the 1994 recipient of the Loye and Alden Miller Research Award.[9] He was formerly curator of birds at the United States National Museum of Natural History; as of 2009, he holds an emeritus position in the institution.[10]

Several prehistoric bird species named after Storrs Olson, including Nycticorax olsoni,[11] Himantopus olsoni,[12], Puffinus olsoni[13] Primobucco olsoni,[14] Gallirallus storrsolsoni,[15] and Quercypodargus olsoni.[16] He was also one of the authors of the description of the extinct rodent Noronhomys vespuccii.[17]


  2. ^ Loye and Alden Miller Research Award Recipients - Storrs Olson
  3. ^ a b Storrs L. Olson, Paleornithology of St Helena Island, south Atlantic Ocean, Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology 23 (1975)
  4. ^ Helen F. James
  5. ^ a b c d James, Helen F. & Olson, Storrs L. (1991): Descriptions of thirty-two new species of birds from the Hawaiian Islands: Part I. Non-passeriformes. AOU Ornithological Monographs 45: 42-47.
  6. ^ Chlorostilbon bracei Lawrence, an extinct species of Hummingbird from New Providence Island, Bahamas (PDF, Fulltext)
  7. ^ El Pais: El 'escándalo archaeoraptor' José Luis Sanz y Francisco Ortega 16/02/2000 Online, Spanish
  8. ^ Storrs L. Olson, Robert C. Fleischer, Clemency T. Fisher & Eldredge Bermingham: Expunging the ‘Mascarene starling’ Necropsar leguati: archives, morphology and molecules topple a myth (PDF, fulltext)
  9. ^ Loye and Alden Miller Research Award Recipients
  10. ^ "Birds Staff, Division of Birds, NMNH". Retrieved 2009–12–11.  
  11. ^ Bourne, W. R. P., Ashmole, N. P. & Simmons K. E. L.: A new subfossil night heron and a new genus for the extinct rail from Ascension Island, central tropical Atlantic Ocean. Ardea 91, issue 1, 2003: p. 45-51
  12. ^ Bickart, K. J., 1990, The birds of the late Miocene-early Pliocene Big Sandy Formation, Mohave County, Arizona: Ornithological Monographs, no. 44, p. 1-72.
  13. ^ J. C. Rando, J. A. Alcover (2008) "Evidence for a second western Palaearctic seabird extinction during the last Millennium: the Lava Shearwater Puffinus olsoni" Ibis 150 (1) , 188–192 doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.2007.00741.x
  14. ^ Feduccia, A. & Martin, L. D. 1976. The Eocene zygodactyl birds of North America (Aves: Piciformes). Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology 27: 101–110.
  15. ^ Kirchman, Jeremy J.; & Steadman, David W. (2006). New Species of Rails (Aves: Rallidae) From an Archaeological Site on Huahine, Society Islands. Pacific Science 60: 281
  16. ^ Mourer-Cliauviré, C. 1989. Les Caprimulgiformes et les Coraciiformes de l'Éocène et de l'Oligocène des phosphorites du Quercy et description de deux genres nouveaux de Podargidae et Nyctibiidae. Acta Congr. Int. Ornithol. 19: 2047-2055.
  17. ^ Carleton, M.D. and Olson, S.L. 1999. Amerigo Vespucci and the rat of Fernando de Noronha: a new genus and species of Rodentia (Muridae, Sigmodontinae) from a volcanic island off Brazil's continental shelf. American Museum Novitates 3256:1–59.

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