Elephant bird (Aepyornis maximus) was thought to be the biggest bird ever walked on earth probably back in the 17th century. It belonged to the extinct family Aepyornithidae. Elephant birds were birds of enormous size and they occupied much of the island of Madagascar. They had become extinct possibly in the seventeenth or eighteenth century. Scientists aren’t sure about the reasons for the extinction but they put forward arguments regarding human activity.
Elephant Bird Facts
Elephant birds were one of the largest birds of Madagascar. It had an ostrich-like appearance and size.
The height of the birds measured about 3 m (9.8 ft) and they weighed up to 350 to 500 kg (770 to 1,100 lb).
The elephant bird was flightless like a present-day ostrich.
Elephant birds were thought to be the world’s largest birds in the 17th
The circumference of the bird’s eggs is up to 1 m (3.3 ft) with the length reaching about 34 cm (13 in). The elephant bird’s egg was the heaviest of the bird’s egg and it weighed up to 10 kg (22 lb). It is believed to be 160 times greater in size as compared to the chicken’s egg.
Marco Polo also mentioned these birds in some of his stories.
According to DNA the elephant bird could have lived 19,000 years ago.
Feeding Ecology & Diet
The elephant bird might have made homes in the rainforests of Madagascar but evidences are still not enough to make us believe that way. Scientists however believe that these birds could have relied on forest coconut palm Voanioala gerardii and might have adapted to living like the present world cassowary.
I recently read where after things got to dangerous for them in the Mediterranean many pirates moved operations to Madagascar. They kept no records of their activities for obvious reasons but the timing seems to coincide with the extinction of Elephant birds, pygmy hippos and giant fossas on the Island. While pirates didn’t do all the hunting they could have introduced and traded with natives who did giving them the weapons to kill off the more dangerous animals. Giant Lemurs being slow and less dangerous started to vanish before when native populations would have risen earlier. We tend to think of first contact being explorers and colonial powers but it could be fishermen and pirates. Like those who whaled and fished off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia but being illiterate they didn’t record things. If Vikings hadn’t had their sagas record by the nobility their landing would have been historically silent.