elephant bird

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English[edit]

An elephant bird, Aepyornis hildebrandti
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Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Apparently from Marco Polo's description of the legendary rukh as being capable of seizing a small elephant.

Noun[edit]

elephant bird (plural elephant birds)

  1. Any of the very large extinct flightless birds that comprise the genera Aepyornis and Mullerornis within family Aepyornithidae, and lived in Madagascar until the 17th or 18th century; especially Aepyornis maximus.
    • 2002, Gregory S. Paul, Dinosaurs of the Air: The Evolution and Loss of Flight in Dinosaurs and Birds, page 306,
      The fossil record is also poor for moa and the aepyornid elephant birds, in that both are mainly known from remains that date from historical times.
    • 2009, Jonathan Adams, Species Richness: Patterns in the Diversity of Life, page 242,
      Another very notable feature of Madagascar was the elephant bird (Aepyornis maximus), an enormous relative of the ostrich which reached 3 m in height.
    • 2013, Roger Safford, Frank Hawkins, The Birds of Africa, Volume VIII: The Malagasy Region, page 107,
      All[of order Struthioniformes] except tinamous are flightless; they include the largest birds ever known (moas and elephant birds) and the largest living bird (Ostrich).