elephant bird

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.
Related to elephant bird: moa

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.
..... Click the link for more information.
, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Aepyornithiformes, family Aepyornithidae.
References in periodicals archive ?
The elephant bird egg is expected to fetch up to Au30,000 when it goes under the hammer on April 24.
According to Christie's lot notes, "The Elephant Bird was thought to be the giant flying beast known as the Roc (or Ruhk) in the tales of Sinbad and accounts of Marco Polo's voyages.
Also on sale will be an elephant bird egg, which is expected to achieve [pounds sterling]30,000.
By comparing its stage of development with that of embryos of ostrichlike emus, Balanoff estimates that elephant bird eggs took 47 days to hatch.
The elephant bird of Madagascar died out in the 17th century after surviving for 60 million years.
Madagascar's giant lemurs, pygmy hippos, and elephant birds survived all the way into the Middle Ages.
Now he and colleagues have extracted DNA from elephant birds (an egg shown) and found that they are the kiwi's closest kin.
All sorts of dangers, adventures, and fantastical creatures await--from the Elephant Birds to the Insultana of Ott and her flying carpet, the Badly Behaved Gods, a city of rats, and, of course, the world of video games.
He will learn jungle survival during five weeks on the remote island of Madagascar, home to many unique species such as lemurs, giant tortoises and elephant birds.
They found lemurs the size of gorillas, hippos no bigger than pigs and enormous elephant birds.
As a matter of fact, another of Quammen's favourite examples is the extinction of the gigantic elephant birds of Madagascar, Aepyornis maximus.