When Birds Stopped Flying

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  • Published: 15 November 2018
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    Ratites have spread to Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. And there are fossils of Ratites in Europe, Asia, and North America too. That’s a lot of ground to cover for birds that can’t fly. So how did Ratites end up all over the world?

    Thanks to Ceri Thomas for the Lithornithid reconstruction. Check out more of Ceri's paleoart at alphynix.tumblr.com and nixillustration.com

    Thanks as always to Nobu Tamura for allowing us to use his wonderful paleoart: spinops.blogspot.com/

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: lavendercottage.info/user/pbsdigitalstudios

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    Katie Fichtner, Aldo Espinosa Zúñiga, Anthony Callaghan, Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle, Gregory Donovan, Ehit Dinesh Agarwal, الخليفي سلطان, Gabriel Cortez, Marcus Lejon, Anel Salas, Robert Arévalo, Robert Hill, Kelby Reid, Todd Dittman, Betsy Radley, PS, Colin Sylvester, Philip Slingerland, John Vanek, Jose Garcia, Noah offitzer, Eric Vonk, Tony Wamsley, Henrik Peteri, Jonathan Wright, Jon Monteiro, James Bording, Brad Nicholls, Miles Chaston, Michael McClellan, Jeff Graham, Maria Humphrey, Nathan Paskett, Connor Jensen, Sapjes, Daisuke Goto, Hubert Rady, Yuntao Zhou, Gregory Kintz, Tyson Cleary, Chandler Bass, Maly Lor, Joao Ascensao, Tsee Lee, Sarah Fritts, Ruben Winter, Ron Harvey Jr, Jacob Gerke, Alex Yan

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    References:
    pnas.org/content/early/2014/03/14/1314972111
    researchcommons.waikato.ac.nz/handle/10289/5990
    sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379109003953
    sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168583X09011550
    journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0016670
    researchgate.net/publication/228865624_New_fossil_ratite_Aves_Palaeognathae_eggshell_discoveries_from_the_Late_Miocene_Baynunah_Formation_of_the_United_Arab_Emirates_Arabian_Peninsula
    jstor.org/stable/3545707
    pnas.org/content/115/7/1546
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    digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/handle/2440/77117
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    dspace.flinders.edu.au/xmlui/handle/2328/35951
    ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27989673
    tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02724634.2015.1031345
    notornis.osnz.org.nz/notes-weight-flying-ability-habitat-and-prey-haasts-eagle-harpagornis-moorei
    jstor.org/stable/2462941
    onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jmor.1052130108
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 827

  • Geoff O'Hart
    Geoff O'Hart  5 hours back

    Is there som other criteria to be labeled a "non avian" dinosaur other then not being avian or is an ostrich a dinosaur? Does it's avian ancestors make it an "avian dinosaur"? Does that make flying dinos birds? So many questions.

    • The Peep
      The Peep  20 hours back

      Chicken 🐔

      • lasagna 4layf
        lasagna 4layf  22 hours back

        4:02 welp surprise surprise

        • Xen Trading
          Xen Trading  2 days back

          Maybe do a video related to penguin and other "odd" birds =D

          Birds are cool

          • Max Gazes
            Max Gazes  2 days back

            Please do a video on the evolution of penguins!!!!!

            • Matt H
              Matt H  4 days back

              PBS is rocking on youtube

              • FeroxCious
                FeroxCious  5 days back

                Scientists: I hate it when religious people try to use our findings to justify their scripture
                Also scientists: Let's call this concept Moa's Ark'
                Also scientists: Let's call it 'the god particle'
                Also scientists: Let's call this 'Mitochondrial Eve'

                • Ethan
                  Ethan  1 weeks back

                  And how did they defeat the Australians?

                  • Edward Gilmour
                    Edward Gilmour  3 weeks back

                    I'm not sure about the other ratites but the chicks of the Cassowary and Emu are hatched and looked after by the Father ! (not the mother)

                    • TheK01234
                      TheK01234  3 weeks back

                      How did you not somehow manage to mention the Great Australian Emu War? lol

                      • William Hamilton
                        William Hamilton  4 weeks back

                        Can we bring back Moas and Elephant Birds?

                        • Duderobi Patschie
                          Duderobi Patschie  4 weeks back

                          kiwis are big?

                          • Mikki Carr
                            Mikki Carr  1 months back

                            Speaking of flightless birds, I think an episode on the evolution of penguins would be interesting!

                            • Babyccino Au
                              Babyccino Au  1 months back

                              Must’ve been a glitch

                              • Robert R
                                Robert R  1 months back

                                So why did emus, ostriches and cassowaries survive human contact?

                                • Brian Petkovic
                                  Brian Petkovic  1 months back

                                  the males do the raising .

                                  • Erl Roe
                                    Erl Roe  2 months back

                                    I think this guy is speaking a large amount of twaddle for the record the Kiwi does have vestige wings whereas the Moa has none and never has as the Moa never flew and the Kiwi's wings may have some use to the bird or had some value... what nonsense how would they explain the Platypus maybe he thinks they should have flown to and also the penguins they must have flown too they may very closely related to hummingbirds hahahaha

                                    • Luqman Bajwa
                                      Luqman Bajwa  2 months back

                                      What about Penguins?

                                      • Ryan Chua Bowen
                                        Ryan Chua Bowen  2 months back

                                        Discount ostriches

                                        • Nathan Jarboe
                                          Nathan Jarboe  2 months back

                                          Are these dude related to terror birds? Btw, I LOVE your channel. I watch every episode. I can’t believe that some species came out of the ocean, took the land, took the skies, and moved back to the land.

                                          • LJayy97
                                            LJayy97  2 months back

                                            Damn humans 🤦🏻‍♂️

                                            • theGreenlandShark
                                              theGreenlandShark  2 months back

                                              North Island Giant moa attacked by haast eagle?

                                              Haast eagle only lived in the South Island...

                                              • DannatiNomiUtente
                                                DannatiNomiUtente  2 months back

                                                5:18 I genuinely have never understood this illustration

                                                • Jim Archibald
                                                  Jim Archibald  3 months back

                                                  What makes you think the Haast Eagle preyed upon Moas? Todays ostrich is not targeted by birds of prey due to it's size.

                                                  • Doodelay
                                                    Doodelay  3 months back

                                                    There must be something unique about ratites though that made them uniquely capable of getting large and flightless vs other birds. Why didn't other bird families follow suit? The way it's described here implies an inevitability to this size and flightlessness that is a VERY interesting puzzle, but which is left answered by the video.
                                                    Inquiring minds want to know

                                                    • Pedro LL
                                                      Pedro LL  3 months back

                                                      :'Large body size can be protection from predators'
                                                      Humans:

                                                      • Miquel Escribano Ivars
                                                        Miquel Escribano Ivars  3 months back

                                                        Island Ratites: "Yo, what's up friends, I was just wondering what's the deal with that communal nesting behavior thingie?".


                                                        Continetla Raties: " Oh sure, it's a way to defend the nest more efficiently from land predators".


                                                        Island Ratites: "It sure is a nice thing that we have no natural land predators in the islands!"


                                                        *Humans arrive*.

                                                        • John Reid
                                                          John Reid  3 months back

                                                          Why do we blame humans every time something goes extinct exempt this video the two large birds that went extinct because we took their eggs too much one was from Madagascar and I believe the other South America but two other large birds such as ostriches in emu's are still here and I know we get their eggs and have done so for a long time why do some birds go extinct because of that but not all

                                                          • navinkumarpk86
                                                            navinkumarpk86  3 months back

                                                            If we have their DNA can we recreate these lost giant birds?

                                                            • FlapJack Ripper
                                                              FlapJack Ripper  3 months back

                                                              But.. Kevin is a girl. Right? Ask Russell and Dug about it.

                                                              • NoArtisticLimitation
                                                                NoArtisticLimitation  3 months back

                                                                Interesting thing about New Zealand. Due to the lack of predators, very few birds could even fly, and even our bats are almost grounded.

                                                                And even then, some of the birds that can fly (like the wood pigeon) can barely remain airborne, and certainly not after eating.

                                                                • neil cutter
                                                                  neil cutter  3 months back

                                                                  I wish i can observe the extinction of human beings.

                                                                  • Diana Gibbs
                                                                    Diana Gibbs  3 months back

                                                                    So are rattites polyphyletic or was there some weird predisposition in their genome to develop flightlessness and large size?

                                                                    • Someone Else
                                                                      Someone Else  3 months back

                                                                      No, we won't see any new flightless birds. Simply because we have committed suicide as a species long before that happens.

                                                                      • Luis Hoyos
                                                                        Luis Hoyos  3 months back

                                                                        How did penguins came to be, will they become marine creatures ?

                                                                        • Sean Stockton
                                                                          Sean Stockton  3 months back

                                                                          and steve

                                                                          • Nairda Charles
                                                                            Nairda Charles  3 months back

                                                                            O.K. , I'll bite. Who the hell is Steve?

                                                                            • MarloSoBalJr
                                                                              MarloSoBalJr  3 months back

                                                                              Man the Aussies sure did dodge a bullet against those damn Giant Moas.








                                                                              Oh!... They lost to the hairy chickens known as "Emus?"...

                                                                              • The wanderer 748
                                                                                The wanderer 748  3 months back

                                                                                Megafauna?

                                                                                • Xdeser 2
                                                                                  Xdeser 2  3 months back

                                                                                  The picture at 6:07 feels weird and anachronistic considering that 2500 years ago roughly was contemporaneous with Alexander the Great, Qin Shi Huang, The Founding of the Roman Republic and the Mayan city states, and not, like, early man.

                                                                                  • creepy whiteTrash
                                                                                    creepy whiteTrash  3 months back

                                                                                    So in definition what is a ratite? With the amount of convergent evolution going on there sure only one continent is the home of a 'true ratite'

                                                                                    • Beau Deeley
                                                                                      Beau Deeley  3 months back

                                                                                      This dude talks too slowly

                                                                                      • Oxyaena
                                                                                        Oxyaena  3 months back

                                                                                        "if size is so advantageous why did the biggest of the bunch, the moas and the elephant bird, go extinct? well that's easy - it's because of us" so blunt lmfao

                                                                                        • Ali A
                                                                                          Ali A  3 months back

                                                                                          Thank you 👍

                                                                                          • Saraza
                                                                                            Saraza  4 months back

                                                                                            I wonder what that common ancestor had that made the species predisposed to evolving in a very similar way in multiple environments?

                                                                                            • David Sau
                                                                                              David Sau  4 months back

                                                                                              Sounds like massive job vacancies

                                                                                              • James
                                                                                                James  4 months back

                                                                                                I think what makes this particular case of human-caused extinction so frustrating is that it happened so recently. Like the Roman empire would have fallen around the same time Moa when extinct. Living in NZ, it's such a shame that such an awesome product of evolution came so close to being able to reach modern NZ where it would have been protected and studied.

                                                                                                • Rampaging Rhino gaming
                                                                                                  Rampaging Rhino gaming  4 months back

                                                                                                  Sorry harrst egale was only in the South Island