A collage showing the complete skeleton and the recently found fossil. Image Credit: Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory / Museum of Central Australia.

Fossil of World’s Largest Ancient Bird Found in Central Australia

Researchers believe they have discovered what is believed to be the remains of the world's largest bird. A giant creature with a height of 3 meters and a weight of up to 650 kilograms.


A fossil site in central Australia has provided experts with a unique, extraordinary discovery. Excavations have exposed what might be the largest bird species ever discovered on Earth. Excited researchers are working to uncover the skeleton of the creature, but more remains could be scattered in the area close to the initial find. Researchers will be able to get better answers about the size of the largest bird on Earth by studying the articulated legs of the female Dromornis stirtoni discovered in Australia. (Check out the largest Dinosaur fossil discovered in Australia here.)

Dromornis stirtoni, also known as Stirton’s thunderbird, was a large flightless bird with a height of 3 meters and a weight of up to 650 kilograms; it is believed to have roamed what is now Central Australia more than eight million years ago. Adam Yates, senior curator of earth sciences at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, and his team of scientists discovered the first-ever set of female articulated legs at Alcoota, 250 km northeast of Alice Springs. Essentially, the bones of a single individual were buried in their anatomical positions, according to Dr. Yates. They were able to determine an individual Dromornis’ size by uncovering the legs.

Paleontologists describe the eight-million-year-old lumbering giants as an “extreme evolutionary experiment” and say that these gigantic creatures are actually closely related to modern poultry, like chickens and ducks. Imagine a 3-meter-high chicken wandering in your back garden today. Many people underestimate the importance of the discovery. In spite of the fact that these oversized ‘chickens‘ are unarguably heavyweights in the poultry category, measuring their size from jumbles of bones is difficult. Dromornis species could be more accurately described with this latest finding, which could reduce some of the guesswork associated with models, experts have in books today.

The site where the find was made is Alcoota Reserve. It’s one of the world’s largest fossil sites, with a dense collection of terrestrial vertebrate remains, where stunned experts found the fossilized “Godzilla chicken” bones. While this location has yielded thousands of fossilized specimens since excavations began there in 1986, most of them have a mix of different species thanks to historic flood waters mixing up the remains.

In this way, most of the fossils found at Alcoota were sorted into species and reconstructed using parts from multiple animals. It is inevitable that mistakes will be made in such composite reconstructions due to the creative thinking that is required. Researchers can gain a much better understanding of these animals’ proportions thanks to the discovery of the legs. Paleontologists will also be able to distinguish more D. stirtoni fossils from the rest of the jumbled fossils at Alcoota.


Researchers had previously compared a variety of jumbled D. stirtoni bones found in the region and found males and females differed in size, according to Science Alert. They identified medullary bone in the smaller specimens by taking samples of the bone. According to Yates, females use this temporary store of calcium to shell their eggs. Scientists believe the newly discovered leg bones belong to a female D. stirtoni based on their size. This giant creature has been dubbed Deb by the researchers.

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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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