Photo: De Agostini Picture Library/BBC
Scientists have put forth various theories to explain the extinction of the giant Elephant Bird, the largest bird to ever live on Earth, including climate change and hunting by humans. The truth, it turns out, can be summed up in two words: yummy eggs.
Sir David Attenborough explains:
Recent archaeological evidence has revealed the fragments of elephant bird egg shells among the remains of human fires, suggesting that the eggs, which are 180 times bigger than a chicken egg, regularly provided food for entire families.
Sir David says: "I doubt it was hunted to extinction – anyone who has seen an ostrich in a zoo knows that it has a kick which can open a man's stomach and an enraged elephant bird, many times the size of an ostrich, must have been a truly formidable opponent.
"I suspect it was its egg. They may not have been able to tackle an adult bird, but they could have taken its eggs which would have been a huge source of food.
"Even if the bird itself was held in awe or fear by the people here, it's unlikely the eggs were – and that would have meant the gradual disappearance of this unique giant."