After decades of contradictory evidence and numerous publications, scientists from the Zoological Institute of the Zoological Faculty of the ZSL have finally finished the debate "The world's largest bird species".
Published today (26 September 201
Elephant birds (belonging to the family Aepyornithidae) are an extinct group of colossal flightless birds that roamed Madagascar in the late Quaternary, with two genera (Aepyornis and Mullerornis) previously recognized by scientists. The first species to be described, Aepyornis maximus, was often considered the largest bird in the world. In 1894, the British scientist C. W. Andrews described an even larger species, Aepyornis titan, which was usually dismissed as an unusually large specimen of A. maximus. However, ZSL's research shows that Andrew's "Titan" bird is actually a stand-alone species. The shape and size of his bones is so different from all other elephant birds that he was given the new generic name Vorombe by ZSL.
Lead author of the ZSL Institute of Zoology, Dr. med. James Hansford said: "Elephant birds were the largest of the Madagascan megafauna and arguably one of the most important in the island's history – even more so than lemurs, because large-sized animals have a tremendous impact on the wider ecosystem in which they live living by controlling vegetation by eating plants, distributing biomass and distributing seeds through defecation, Madagascar is still suffering from the extinction of these birds. "
Co-author Professor Samuel Turvey from the ZSL Institute of Zoology said : "Without a thorough understanding of past biodiversity, we can not properly understand evolution or ecology in unique island systems like Madagascar, or reconstruct exactly what has been lost since the arrival of humans on these islands." Knowing the history of biodiversity loss is crucial. to determine how to sustain the species endangered today
Dr. Hansford analyzed this data in a novel combination of machine learning combined with Bayesian clustering and applied modern techniques to solve a 150-year-old taxonomic node that will provide the modern understanding of this puzzling avian megafauna. The discovery that the largest of these birds has been forgotten by history is only one part of their remarkable history.
Publication: James P. Hansford, Samuel T. Turvey, "Unexpected diversity within the extinct elephant birds (Aves: Aepyornithidae) and a new identity for the world's largest bird," Royal Society Open Science, 2018; DOI: 10.1098 / rsos.181295