Vorombe Titan Confirmed As Largest Bird Ever Weighing Up To 800kg

If you grew up watching Sesame Street, you certainly know Big Bird. You probably thought a big that gigantic never existed, and you would be wrong. A study published in Royale Society Open Science has named a bird called the Vorombe titan (translating to "big bird" in Malagasy and Greek) as the world's largest bird. This ancient bird could weigh up to 800kg and stand three meters tall.

The ZSL scientists discovered unexpected diversity in these Madagascan creatures during their study that involved taking calipers and a tape measure to bones in museums across the globe. The specific task for the team was to determine once and for all which bird was the largest.

This study marked the first taxonomic reassessment of the family in over 80 years. Elephant birds belong to the family Aepyornithidae and are an extinct group of gigantic flightless birds. These creatures lived in Madagascar during the Late Quaternary. Two genera of these birds were recognized by science previously including Aepyornis and Mullerornis.

Previously recognized as the world's largest bird was Aepyornis maximus. In 1894, an even larger bird species was discovered called the Aepyornis titan. However, for a time that species was dismissed as being an unusually large A. maximus example. The new research by ZSL scientists has confirmed that the titan bird is a distinct species and has been given the new genus name Vorombe by ZSL.

The scientists say that such giant animals have a significant impact on the ecosystem. They lived on vegetation and spread biomass and seeds by defecation. The researchers say that even today Madagascar is still seeing the effects of these ancient species.