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Worlds biggest bird might have been as blind as a bat

first_imgThe small optic lobes and the enlarged smell centers resemble the brain anatomy of the kiwi and the endangered kakapo, another nocturnal New Zealand bird. That suggests that, like the kiwi and the kakapo, elephant birds were active only at night, the scientists say. If true, such behavior could help explain how elephant birds were able to survive so long after humans invaded Madagascar. El fosilmaníaco (CC BY 3.0 US) Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) World’s biggest bird might have been as blind as a bat Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Elizabeth PennisiOct. 30, 2018 , 8:01 PM Email Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country The world’s biggest bird—which went extinct some 300 years ago—weighed half a ton and towered over lesser creatures in its home forests of Madagascar. Now, thanks to new evidence from skull scans, scientists think the 3.5-meter-tall elephant bird may not have been a daytime forager as previously suspected, but was instead a sightless creature of the night.Not much is known about Madagascar’s elephant birds, whose skeletons—poorly preserved in the island’s swamps—are mostly in pieces. Until recently, scientists assumed their closest relative was the giant moa from New Zealand. They also assumed that, like the moa, elephant birds were active during the day. But recent DNA analysis has suggested the elephant bird may have an even closer cousin: the flightless, nocturnal kiwi.To learn more about how elephant birds lived, researchers obtained skulls from two elephant bird species and measured their interiors using a computerized tomography scanner. The scans revealed that the optic lobes—which process what the eye sees—were almost nonexistent, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. That means the massive birds could barely see, the scientists say. The olfactory bulbs, the brain’s smell centers, were much larger than expected in one species and slightly larger than expected in the other—which would make sense because forest-dwelling birds tend to have better senses of smell.last_img

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