While elephant birds
were hampered by their great size when it came to speed, the femur of the current bird was relatively long and slim, suggesting it was a better runner.
were the biggest of Madagascar's megafauna and arguably one of the most important in the islands evolutionary history - even more so than lemurs," Hansford commented.
"probably played the most significant roles in maintaining and developing the landscapes that were natural to Madagascar before humans got there," he said.
Bones of elephant birds
found in 2008 were found to have grooves.
Madagascar's giant lemurs, pygmy hippos, and elephant birds
survived all the way into the Middle Ages.
Now he and colleagues have extracted DNA from elephant birds
(an egg shown) and found that they are the kiwi's closest kin.
All sorts of dangers, adventures, and fantastical creatures await--from the Elephant Birds
to the Insultana of Ott and her flying carpet, the Badly Behaved Gods, a city of rats, and, of course, the world of video games.
They found lemurs the size of gorillas, hippos no bigger than pigs and enormous elephant birds
. These animals disappeared long ago, and by the 21st century, 90 percent of the island's original forests had been destroyed.
As a matter of fact, another of Quammen's favourite examples is the extinction of the gigantic elephant birds
of Madagascar, Aepyornis maximus.
looked a bit like modern-day emus and ostriches and used to be as much as 10-feet long and a whopping thousand pounds heavy.
Within a millennium of humans' arrival, the island's elephant birds
, and other megafauna, were largely gone.
He will learn jungle survival during five weeks on the remote island of Madagascar, home to many unique species such as lemurs, giant tortoises and elephant birds