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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
"When I first felt the weight of the bird whose thigh bone I was holding in my hand, I thought it must be a Malagasy elephant bird fossil because no birds of this size have ever been reported from Europe.
But a study released Wednesday by British scientists suggests that one species of elephant bird was even larger than previously thought, with a specimen weighing an estimated 860 kilograms (1,895 pounds) -- about the same as a fully grown giraffe.
In the study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, Hansford examined elephant bird bones found around the world, feeding their dimensions into a machine-learned algorithm to create a spread of expected animal sizes.
The elephant bird was a 3 meter tall, half ton mammoth of a bird that was a frequent sight on the island of Madagascar.
Sadly, the elephant bird went extinct about 1,000 years ago.
Follow-up studies by radiography experts not only confirmed the authenticity of the museum egg, but, also revealed it had the sub-fossilized embryo of a baby elephant bird inside.
The findings reveal that the 2.3 metre-tall elephant bird from Madagascar is the closest relative of the kiwi.
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.
However, ancient DNA extracted from bones of two elephant birds held by the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, has revealed a close genetic connection with the kiwi, despite the striking differences in geography, morphology and ecology between the two.
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.
The newly-discovered specimen, discovered in the Taurida Cave on the northern coast of the Black Sea, suggests a bird as giant as the Madagascan elephant bird or New Zealand moa.
A huge fossilized egg, belonging to an extinct elephant bird, fetched $101,813 at auction in London.