Science 52'

Giant birds: The return

The Elephant Birds of Madagascar, the Moas of New Zealand, the Sylviornis of New Caledonia… They sound like characters in a fantasy book, but they actually once existed.

From a few hundred years ago to the late Cretaceous, some 70 million years ago, these birds roamed the Earth. Some weighed up to 800 kg, others were up to four metres high. But they all had something in common: they were unable to fly. So how could these ground-dwelling, supersized birds get to these islands? How did they go extinct? 

Thanks to recent palaeontological discoveries and improvements in extracting ancient DNA, scientists have recently found the answer to the unexpected origins of this unusual birds. From the smallest to the largest of the giant birds to far off islands where they lived alongside our ancestors, this film will reconstruct the unexpected evolutionary history of this birds thanks to genetic studies on bone fragments, and by following ongoing investigations that might even unable us to bring these animals back to life.

Direction: Bertrand Loyer 

Production: Saint Thomas Productions for ARTE, CuriosityStream & Ushuaïa

Delivery: End of 2022  

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