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 ?
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.
3 metre-tall elephant bird from Madagascar is the closest relative of the kiwi.
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.
Elephant birds were flightless, could weigh up to 1,000 pounds and grew as tall as 10 feet, notes(http://www.
Ratites are a group of flightless birds that include the Australian emu and cassowary, African ostrich, New Zealand's kiwi and now-extinct moa, rhea from South America and the extinct elephant birds of Madagascar.
The researchers haven't produced an estimate of the terror bird's weight, but it almost surely exceeded the weights of known elephant birds and moas, says team member Luis Chiappe of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Los Angeles.