Extinct Jamaican bird clobbered rivals with club-like wings

December 29th, 2010 - 12:24 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 29 (ANI): Yale University researchers have discovered that an extinct Jamaican bird used its club-like wings to clobber rivals during fights.

The bird, Xenicibis xympithecus, which went extinct around 10,000 years ago, had evolved so as to modify its wings to club-like structures.

“I would guess that they would try to grab each other using the beak and then just proceed to pound each other using the wings,” Discovery News quoted Nicholas Longrich as saying.

Longrich and colleague Storrs Olson came to the conclusion after they noticed the bird’s “bizarre” wings.

“The arm is long and spindly, and the hand bones are enlarged, curved and expanded so that the hand looks like a banana,” Longrich said, adding that both females and males had these unusually modified wings.

The arms were the “handles” of the weapons increasing the angular velocity of the weighted “club” at the end. The bird could then swing its wings, delivering sharp blows whenever the enlarged hand bones struck an opponent.

But not even the lethal weapon was enough to protect the bird from extinction.

“Humans wiped out flightless birds like the dodo and the moa wherever they went, so my guess is that Xenicibis shared their fate,” Longrich said.

Helen James, curator of birds at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, believes “the authors are correct that the wing had evolved to serve as a specialized weapon.”

The paper is published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (ANI)

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