Elephant bird

family of birds (subfossil)

Elephant birds are an extinct family of large birds which could not fly. They were found only on the island of Madagascar. The group had two genera, Aepyornis and Mullerornis, and seven species. Like several other flightless birds, they were hunted to extinction.[2]

Elephant birds
Temporal range: Quaternary
The egg of an Elephant bird
Scientific classification


(Bonaparte, 1853)[1]

Description change

The Elephant birds, which were giant ratites, have been extinct since at least the 17th century. Étienne de Flacourt, a French governor of Madagascar in the 1640s and 1650s, recorded frequent sightings of elephant birds. Aepyornis, one of the world's largest birds, is believed to have been over 3 metres (10 ft) tall, weighing close to 400 kg (880 lb).[3] Remains of Aepyornis adults and eggs have been found. In some cases the eggs have a circumference of over 1 metre (3 ft) and a length up to 34 centimetres (13 in).[4] The egg volume is about 160 times greater than a chicken egg.[5]

References change

  1. 1.0 1.1 Brands, S. (2008)
  2. Ellis, Richard (2004). No turning back: the life and death of animal species. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 102. ISBN 0-06-055804-0.
  3. Davies S.J.J.F. 2003. Elephant birds. In Hutchins, Michael. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. 2nd ed, Gale, Farmington Hills, MI. p103. ISBN 0-7876-5784-0.
  4. Mlíkovsky J. 2003. Eggs of extinct aepyornithids (Aves: Aepyornithidae) of Madagascar: size and taxonomic identity. Sylvia, 39: 133–138.
  5. Hawkins A.F.A. and Goodman S.M. 2003. In Goodman, S.M. and Benstead, J.P. (eds). The Natural History of Madagascar. University of Chicago Press. p1026