Zed
Science 52'

The Mystery of the Giant Birds

Elephant Birds of Madagascar and Moas of New Zealand sound like creatures from a fantasy book but these giant cousins of the ostriches once actually existed. From a few hundred years ago to the late Cretaceous period, some 70 million years ago, these birds belonging to the “ratite” family roamed the Earth. Some weighed up to 800 kilos, others stood nearly four meters high. But they all had something in common: they were unable to fly. So how did these ground-dwelling, supersized birds arrive in these distant islands?

 Thanks to recent fossil discoveries and improvements in extracting ancient DNA, scientists have thrown a spanner in the works of existing theories which, until now, used the continental drift to explain the existence of these flightless birds in the southern hemisphere. From the smallest to the largest of the giant birds, to remote islands where they were hunted to extinction, genetic studies reconstruct the unexpected evolutionary history of these enigmatic animals...

 

Direction: Bertrand Loyer 

Production: Saint Thomas Productions for ARTE, CuriosityStream & Ushuaïa TV

Delivery: February 2023

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