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Elephant Birds were Blind, Nocturnal and Taller than Big Bird

An artist’s interpretation of giant, nocturnal elephant birds foraging in the ancient forests of Madagascar at night John Maisano for the University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences

You may have thought Big Bird was unrealistically gigantic, but he’s still not the largest bird to ever walk the Earth. That honor goes to elephant birds, which stood 10 feet tall and roamed Madagascar thousands of years ago.

For reference, “Sesame Street’s” Big Bird stands at 8 feet, 2 inches.

New research suggests that the giant flightless birds, which went extinct between 500 and 1,000 years ago, were also nocturnal and blind. An analysis of two elephant bird skulls from two species was published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
“As recently as 500 years ago, very nearly blind, giant flightless birds were crashing around the forests of Madagascar in the dark. No one ever expected that,” said Julia Clarke, study co-author and professor at the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences.
CNN, Oct.30,2018
USA Today, Nov.1, 2018
Gizmodo, Nov.2, 2018
EarthSky Nov.6, 2018
Discover Magazine, Oct.30, 2018
Popular Science , Oct.31, 2018
Featuring: Julia Clarke, Professor, Department of Geological Sciences; Chris Torres, graduate student, Integrative biology program ,College of Natural Sciences