After decades Of speculation on the ‘World’s Largest Bird’, scientists have finally discovered the answer to the enigma.
Vorumbe Titan, the Elephant Bird, which once inhabited the lands of Madagascar, has been named the largest bird that ever lived in the history of humankind. The term, ‘Vorumbe Titan’ comes from the Greek language which literally translates to ‘Big Bird’.
The now-extinct Elephant bird is said to have weighed almost 800 kg. According to studies, the bird was said to reach a height of approximately 10 feet. These long-necked flightless birds had a strong resemblance to ostrich. Elephant Birds laid eggs which weighed up to 3 pounds. These feathered birds had a vegetarian diet despite being colossal in size.
Researchers also discovered an unexpected diversity in these creatures from Madagascar. Dr. Hansford, from the Zoological Society of London Institute of Zoology, reportedly analyzed hundreds of fossils which are said to belong to this giant creature. His studies revealed that the elephant birds’ taxonomy was spread across three genera and four distinct species. The first species, namely Aepyornis Maximus, has been classified as the world’s largest bird.
Up until the 1890’s, the world’s largest bird was considered ‘Aepyornis Maximus’. Fossils of the elephant bird were found but they were dismissed as being ‘unusually large samples’ of the former species. However, in 1894, a scientist from Britain, CW Andrews, studied specimens, which he termed ‘Aepyornis Titan’, which were considerably larger in size. The shape and the size of the bones of this bird were very different from other fossils. Yet, his claims were disregarded. Years of research, and in 2018, Andrew’s ‘Titan’ was named the world’s largest bird.
The new classification shoulders Madagascar’s Elephant bird its body mass with the dinosaurs. According to Dr Hansford, these birds played a significant role in the evolutionary history of Madagascar. They impacted the ecosystem greatly. As they were fed on plants, the Elephant birds controlled vegetation and also dispersed seeds through excretion. After the birds got extinct, the African island is still facing its after-effects.
Co-researcher, Professor Samuel Turvey, said that by studying the history of these birds and the consequent reason for their extinction, one can determine the ways to protect and conserve endangered species in the contemporary world. Accordingly, humans can attempt to reconstruct the exact environment on the island before the extinction of the colossal birds.