What humans don’t know about the massive elephant bird could fill a book. And even what we know might need some serious revision.
New information published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B takes what little we know and turns it on its head. The fossil record has already established that these extinct creatures were 10 feet tall and lived alongside humans. Now we know they were doing all that while practically blind and living in darkness.
According to a brain reconstruction study published Tuesday, it’s fair to say that the giant elephant bird wasn’t so different from the still-living, 18-inch-tall kiwi bird. The kiwi is the elephant bird’s closest living relative, and it too is flightless, nearly blind, and nocturnal. That is about where the resemblance ends — but just knowing the similarity fills in a crucial gap in knowledge.