ITITY Field Science Reporter
Alice Springs AU
Long the subject of folk tales among the aborigines of the Great Australian Outback, descriptions of the Elephant Bird seemed so bizarre they were usually dismissed by the scientific community.
Zoologists at The University of Alice Springs announced today however, that they had indeed confirmed the existence of new species of large flightless bird, Delusionus Pachydermia, the Elephant Bird. All white and similar in size to its closest relatives, the Ostrich and Emu, the Elephant Bird has been observed in its isolated habitat to share their behavior of hiding its head in the sand.
Older males sport a silver crest and have the ability to puff themselves up to attract the red beaked females. He is usually followed by a small group of younger males that squawk excitedly every time he squawks. Basically scavengers of opportunity, Elephant Birds have been known to forage on the leaves of an indigenous wild tea plant that contains a mild hallucinogen.
By far the most distinctive feature of the Elephant Bird is its enormously overdeveloped right wing and its almost totally atrophied left wing. The birds run in large groups called parties, smaller groups called caucuses and, because of their imbalanced frame, seem to endlessly circle to the right, while squawking loudly in unison.
Interestingly when they complete a circle, ending up at the same place they started, they get very excited as if proclaiming they have arrived somewhere new. This behavior tends to ruin their habitat making it difficult for them to propagate widely, problems the Elephant Bird seems oblivious to.
Elephant Birds, especially females under the influence of wild tea, have been observed to kill members of their own party whose right wing was not fully developed or whose left wing not fully atrophied; a strange act of imposed selection that inhibits species diversity. While they seem to flourish in Southern and rural environments, their long term prospects appear to be seriously endangered.