BIRDS Unknown

Birds (Class Aves) are warm-blooded animals that have no teeth, are covered with feathers, and are wonderfully adapted for true flight. Zoologists have long recognized that birds evolved from reptiles, but with the relatively recent discovery in China that some theropod dinosaurs had feathers (Sinosauropteryx and Caudipteryx), it seems likely that early birds (such as the well-known Archaeopteryx of the Late Jurassic, 140 million years ago) emerged from these Dl-NOSAURS. Feathers are complex organs requiring many different genes for their construction, and consequently, it makes sense that they evolved only once. But the feathered dinosaurs did not fly; they apparently developed feathers either as insulation to maintain body temperature, for sexual display, or possibly as an aid in jumping or gliding. When these animals acquired a strong breastbone to anchor powerful flight muscles, modified their forearms into wings, re duced their tailbones to a stump, and reengi-neered the rest of their skeletons into an aerody-namically sound structure, they became birds.

There are still many gaps in the avian fossil record. Unfortunately, cryptozoology may not be able to help fill them. None of the sixty-one mystery birds in this section are explainable by the survival of anything other than recent taxa, except possibly Big Bird or the ThUNDERBIRD, which some believe may involve an extant tera-torn from 8 million years ago. Flightlessness, found in such birds as the moa, is usually a late adaptation by a bird that was capable of flight but had few natural predators. The Dodo, Du, Koau, Mihirung Parngmal, RĂ©union Solitaire, ROA-ROA, and VORONPATRAare flightless.

The largest living bird is the flightless Ostrich (Struthio camelus); males have been recorded up to 9 feet in height and weighing 345 pounds. The heaviest flying birds are the Kori bustard (Ardeotis kori) of Africa and the Great bustard (Otis tarda) of Europe and Asia, both of which can weigh more than 40 pounds. The Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) has the largest wingspan of any living bird; a specimen caught in the Tasman Sea in 1965 had a wingspan of 11 feet 11 inches.

The seventy-four families of passerine birds, also known as perching birds, contain more than half of the world's bird species.

Sixteen of the entries are birds that, though known largely from myth and legend, might be explainable by real species, either living or extinct. These include the giant Kaha, Piasa, Roc, and Simurgh and the smaller CALADRIUS and Phoenix.

Nine entries are birds that have become extinct recently but may have lingered past their official extinction dates, such as the CARXINA PARAKEET Great Auk, or Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.

The remainder are birds about which there is simply insufficient information to classify or to verify as distinct species, such as the GOOD-encugh Island Bird or the Peruvian WAttle-less Guan.

Mystery Birds


Bagge's Black Bird; Bennu Bird; Denman's

Bird; Dodo; Kigezi Turaco; Kikiyaon;

Kondlo; Le Guat's Giant; Makalala; Marsabit Swift; Mathews Range Starling; Ngoima; Phoenix; Reunion Solitaire; Roc; Senegal Stcne Partridge; Sudd Gallinule; Vorcnpatra


Alovot; Andaman Wood Owl; Anka; Devil Bird; Dcuble-Banded Argus; Dragon Bird; Filipino Secretary Bird; Kaha; Phoenix (Chinese); Pink-Headed Duck; Simurgh; StelleRs Sea Raven; Sumatran Hummingbird; Whiskered Swift; Ziz

Australasia and Oceania

Birds of Paradise (Unrecognized); Du; Gabriel Feather; Goodenough Island Bird; Huia; Koau; Mihirung Paringmal; Ngani-

Central and South America

Glaucous Macaw; Peruvian WAttleless

Guan; Red Jamaican Parrot


Boobre; Caladrius; Great Auk; Kungstorn; Slaguggla; Stymphalian Bird

North America

Big Bird; Caiolina Parakeet; Giant Owl; Ivory-Billed Woodpecker; Passenger Pigeon; Piasa; Thunderbird; Thunderbird (Pennsylvania)

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