Presumably the problem is that people have been making decisions about the
taxonomy of the Sooty Owls with reference to Australia, forgetting about the
population in PNG, or, because of political boundaries, not being able to
make decisions about them.
Once there was considered to be one species with three populations there was
no problem, now that the Lesser Sooty of North Queensland is considered a
separate species then we have three possibilities: either the birds in PNG
are also Lesser Sooties (northern popualtions considered a sepaprate sp), or
there are three species (each population separate), or the PNG birds are
Sooties. This last could be a possibility if it was considered that a
formerly united popualtion had become separated with a small, divergent
population speciating more rapidly in the middle, the two outer populations
preserving more of the average features of the parent sp.
So take your pick. I'd go for Tyto novaeguinae, and have yourself a bird
that no-one else in the world has ever seen :-)
Beehler et al, Birds of New Guinea, has them as T. tenebricosa.
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