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 ?
This group contains some of the world's largest birds - such as the extinct giant moa of New Zealand and elephant birds of Madagascar.
Despite the differences in appearance and location, the elephant bird and the kiwi have a genetic connection.
A giant egg from an extinct elephant bird is going up for auction at Christie's in London.
Standing more than twice the height of an ostrich, it was known to the natives of Madagascar as the elephant bird.
A huge fossilized egg, belonging to an extinct elephant bird, fetched $101,813 at auction in London.
Now Attenborough is returning to the island to see how it has changed during the past 50 years, and also to investigate the elephant bird, an extraordinary creature that was like a massive ostrich, weighing about half a ton.
Attenborough and the Giant Egg BBC2, 8pm Fifty years on from his first visit, David Attenborough is returning to Madagascar to see how it's changed during the intervening period, and also to search for more clues about one of his most treasured possessions, the egg of an elephant bird, an ostrichlike creature that weighed half a ton.
Here, David returns to Madagascar to see how the island has changed in the past 50 years and to search for more clues about the amazing elephant bird, which was something like a giant ostrich, weighing half a ton.
The now extinct elephant bird weighed an incredible half a ton and David has returned to Madagascar in the hope of discovering what happened to it.
In searching for more clues about the elephant bird, Sir David investigates whether the story of its extinction can throw light on what is happening on the island today.
Wednesday Attenborough and the Giant Egg BBC Two Wales, 8pm The grand old man of the nature show goes on a personal journey of discovery in search of the last remaining traces of the extinct elephant bird.