As many as 13 now-extinct species of macaw have variously been suggested to have lived on the Caribbean islands, but many of these were based on old descriptions or drawings and only represent hypothetical species. Only three endemic Caribbean macaw species are known from physical remains: the Cuban macaw, the Saint Croix macaw (Ara autochthones), which is known only from subfossils, and the Lesser Antillean macaw(Ara guadeloupensis), which is known from subfossils and reports. Macaws are known to have been transported between the Caribbean islands and from mainland South America to the Caribbean both in historic times by Europeans and natives, and in prehistoric times by Paleoamericans. Historical records of macaws on these islands, therefore, may not have represented distinct, endemic species; it is also possible that they were escaped or feral foreign macaws that had been transported to the islands. All the endemic Caribbean macaws were likely driven to extinction by humans in historic and prehistoric times.The identity of these macaws is likely to be further resolved only through fossil finds and examination of contemporary reports and artwork.
The Jamaican red macaw (Ara gossei) was named by the British zoologist Walter Rothschild in 1905 on the basis of a description of a specimen shot in 1765. It was described as being similar to the Cuban macaw, mainly differing in having a yellow forehead. Some researchers believe the specimen described may have been a feral Cuban macaw. A stylised 1765 painting of a macaw by the British Lieutenant L. J. Robins, published in a volume called The Natural History of Jamaica, matches the Cuban macaw, and may show a specimen that had been imported there; however, it has also been claimed that the painting shows the Jamaican red macaw. Rothschild's 1907 book Extinct Birds included a depiction of a specimen in the Liverpool Museum which was presented as a Cuban macaw. In a 1908 review of the book published in The Auk, the reviewer claimed that the picture looked sufficiently dissimilar from known Cuban macaws that the specimen may actually be of one of the largely unknown species of macaw, such as a species from Haiti. The reviewer's objection has not been accepted.
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