Definition of elephant bird in English:

elephant bird


  • A heavily built giant flightless bird, found in Madagascar until it was exterminated in about ad 1000. The eggs, which are still found occasionally, are the largest known.

    Also called aepyornis
    • ‘Fossils from Madagascar tell us that a gigantic bird, the elephant bird Aepyornis maximus, lived there, perhaps until as late as the seventeenth century, although more probably around 1000 AD.’
    • ‘Possible extinct dispersers of the palms are large lemurs that once roamed Madagascar or flightless elephant birds, which were the largest birds known to have lived and were endemic to Madagascar.’
    • ‘There are no elephants, but there was once something like an ostrich but much, much bigger, called the elephant bird.’
    • ‘And like modern ostriches and emus, and extinct moas and elephant birds, these ancient long-necked pinheads swallowed stones which remained in the stomach to aid in digestion.’
    • ‘Other ratites, the elephant bird of Madagascar and the moas of New Zealand, have been extinct for several centuries, probably as a result of human hunting.’