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Where Did the Elephant Bird Come from and Where Did It Go?

Theories of how Elephant Birds first arrived on the island of Madagascar include rafting or flying. Given that the island is over 200 miles from the coast of Africa, rafting is highly unlikely. Most likely, an ancestor of the Elephant Bird flew to the island and with little competition for resources, the species grew larger and larger and due to no longer needing to fly anywhere, their wings became smaller and smaller. 

These birds were unlikely to have been fierce predators. Their lack of hooked beak or talons indicates they were more likely vegetarian, browsing the higher plants and fruits unreachable by other ground dwellers. 

The first Governor of Madagascar, Etienne de Flacourt, recorded many sightings of these birds upon his arrival in 1648 and was the first to report on their existence. They presumably dwindled to extinction under human pressures such as hunting and loss of habitat.


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