After more than a century of conflicting evidence, Anglo-French animosity and a H.G. Wells novella involving murder most fowl, scientists said Wednesday they have finally solved the riddle of the world’s largest bird.
For 60 million years the colossal, flightless elephant bird — Aepyornis maximus — stalked the savannah and rainforests of Madagascar until it was hunted to extinction around 1,000 years ago.
In the 19th century, a new breed of buccaneering European zoologist obsessed over the creature, pillaging skeletons and fossilised eggs to prove they had discovered the biggest bird on Earth.
But a study released Wednesday by British scientists suggests that one species of elephant bird was even larger than previously thought, with a specimen weighing an estimated 860 kilogrammes (1,895 pounds) about the same as a fully grown giraffe.