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The Mystery of the Merganser



This international mystery tells of a scientific puzzle in America solved by a historical find in Australia. The bird at the center of the mystery, the merganser (goosander), was labelled in unknown handwriting Gensan Korea, May 1903. The bird skin (AMNH 734284) is part of the Robert Hall Collection, which came via London to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Could a merganser could be native to (i.e. breed in) Korea? There are no other records of mergansers outside winter, and few specimens from North Korea. Letters by R. E. Trebilcock, Hall’s field assistant, preserved in Australia, confirmed the label correct.