elephant bird

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elephant bird,

extinct, flightless bird of the family Aepyornithidae. Once native to the island of Madagascar, these gigantic birds may have survived until as late as 1649. Today, they are known only from bone specimens and a few well-preserved eggs. In appearance they are thought to have resembled monstrous ostriches, with the largest reaching heights of up to 10 ft (305 cm) and weighing perhaps as much as 1,000 lb (455 kg). Their eggs, the largest single cells in the animal kingdom, measured up to 13 in. (33 cm) in length and held a liquid content estimated at two gallons (7.5 liters). It is quite possible that the creation of the legendary roc of the Arabian Nights was based on discoveries of such eggs or even on distant memories of the elephant bird, for, if the roc legend did not originate in Madagascar, it has long been localized there by tradition. The largest of the elephant birds, Aepyornis maximus, was also the heaviest of all known birds. Elephant birds probably became extinct at the same time as the moas. Elephant birds are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Aepyornithiformes, family Aepyornithidae.
References in periodicals archive ?
Instead, the diminutive kiwi is most closely related to the extinct Madagascan elephant bird - a 2-3 metre tall, 275 kg giant.
Researchers believe New Zealand's kiwi and Madagascar's elephant bird descended from a small flying bird which may have flown from Antarctica long ago.
According to Christie's lot notes, elephant birds went extinct sometime between the 14th and 17th centuries.
A huge fossilized egg, belonging to an extinct elephant bird, fetched $101,813 at auction in London.
The fossilized elephant bird egg was valued at 20,000 6 30,000 pounds ($30,500 - $45,750) before the auction on Wednesday.
Huge flightless birds called elephant birds strolled their Madagascar homeland until they went extinct about 400 years ago.
When researchers at the University of Texas at Austin recently performed a computerized tomography (CT) scan of an unbroken elephant bird egg, they discovered a tiny, dismembered skeleton.
By comparing its stage of development with that of embryos of ostrichlike emus, Balanoff estimates that elephant bird eggs took 47 days to hatch.