Page protected with pending changes


Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
(Redirected from
Sylviornis neocaledoniae

Temporal range: Holocene
Sylviornis skeletal reconstruction, with known pieces in white
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Family: Sylviornithidae
Genus: Sylviornis
Poplin, 1980[1]
S. neocaledoniae
Binomial name
Sylviornis neocaledoniae
Poplin, 1980[1]

Sylviornis, also known by its native name of Du,

Île des Pins
. It was likely hunted to extinction shortly after the first human arrival to New Caledonia around 1500 BC.


Sylviornis was a huge flightless bird, standing up to 1.2–1.6 m (3.9–5.2 ft) tall, and weighing around 40 kg (88 lb) on average.[4] In the 2016 study, its height in resting stance was estimated up to 0.8 m (2.6 ft), while its mass estimate decreased to 27–34 kg (60–75 lb).[3] It is the most massive galliform known to have ever existed. It had a large skull with a high and laterally compressed beak surmounted by a bony knob. Its legs were rather short, but had strong toes with long nails. The skeleton has a number of peculiarities and differences that make Sylviornis stand apart from all other known birds: the clavicles were not fused to a furcula, the number of caudal vertebrae was very high, and the ribcage and pelvis were almost dinosaurian in appearance. The wings were reduced to small stubs.


A large proportion—up to 50% in some deposits—of the remains found were from juvenile animals. Thus, it has been theorized that Sylviornis had a

clutch of at least two, more probably closer to 10 eggs, and that the average lifespan was not much more than 5–7 years, which would be extremely low for such a large bird. It was thought that the bird did not incubate its eggs but built a mound similar to the megapodes. Tumuli on the Île des Pins which were initially believed to be graves were found to contain no human remains or grave goods, and it has been hypothesized that they were in reality the incubation mounds of Sylviornis. As these mounds are up to 5 m (16 ft) high and 50 m (160 ft) wide even after nearly four millennia, they seem too large to have been made by the giant scrubfowl
(Megapodius molistructor), an extinct New Caledonian species of megapode.

Muséum national d'histoire naturelle
, Paris

However, recent assessment of this bird as outside and not even particularly closely related to megapodes make the possibility that it was a mound-builder like them strictly unlikely.[3]


Little can be said about the lifestyle of Sylviornis. It was probably a slow-moving browser, and the structure of the bill and feet suggest that roots and tubers it dug up formed a major part of its diet.


The bird was hunted to extinction by the

Lapita ancestors of the Kanak people, who settled New Caledonia around 1500 BC.[5] Predation by feral dogs and pigs probably also played a part. The legacy of Sylviornis persists in Kanak oral history
in the form of stories giving a rough description of the bird and some of its habits.

See also


  1. ^ a b Poplin, François (1980). "Sylviornis neocaledoniae n. g., n. sp. (Aves), ratite éteint de la Nouvelle-Calédonie". Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences, Série D (in French). 290: 691–694.
  2. ^ Robischon, Marcel. "Ghost of the Forest: the Tangible and Intangible in Natural and Cultural Heritage". Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  3. ^
    PMID 27027304
  4. ^ Steadman, David W. (1999). "The biogeography and extinction of megapodes in Oceania". Zoologische Verhandelingen. 327: 7–21.
  5. .

External links