Aepyornis maximus   (Hilaire)

Giant Elephant-Bird; Malagasy Ostrich
(Aepyornis maximus)

syn. Aepyornis ingens (Milne-Edwards & Grandidier), Aepyornis modestus (Milne-Edwards & Grandidier), Aepyornis titan (Andrews)



local name:

Vorompatra (Malagasy)

size: ca. 3 m (at the head)

Aussterbedatum: ca. 120 - 1000 A.D.

The Giant Elephant-Bird has not much in common with the African Ostrich (Struthio camelus), it was a somewhat heavy bodied, ponderous bird.

The living Malagasy Ostrich must have been the heaviest bird in the world. According to evaluations full grown birds must have weighed as much as 450 to 500 kg and therefore may have had no natural enemies.


This species too produced the largest eggs so far known. These reached a bit over 30 cm in length and had an volume of up to 9 litres.


The reasons for its extinction may lie in the direct hunting of the birds and collecting of its eggs by the first inhabitans of Madagascar.