What’s 3 metres tall and weighs 800 kilograms?
It’s the “world’s largest bird,” called Vorombe Titan, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Royal Society Open Science.
This new species of elephant bird, now extinct, was named by scientists from the Institute of Zoology, part of the international conservation charity Zoological Society of London. The scientists discovered “new rigorous and quantitative evidence” that it was a species distinct from the Aepyornis Maximus, which previously held the title of world’s biggest.
The Vorombe Titan, which would have lived in Madagascar, wasn’t able to fly. It’s the newest addition to the elephant bird family — an extinct group of colossal flightless birds that roamed Madagascar during the Later Quaternary — which scientists thought comprised only of the Aepyornis and Mullerornis genera.
“Elephant birds were the biggest of Madagascar’s megafauna and arguably one of the most important in the islands evolutionary history — even more so than lemurs,” said lead author Dr. James Hansford.
The elephant birds had a great impact on the ecosystem, “via controlling vegetation through eating plants, spreading biomass and dispersing seeds through defecation,” Hansford said.
“Madagascar is still suffering the effects of the extinction of these birds today.”