When Birds Stopped Flying

  • Published on: 14 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 http://alphynix.tumblr.com and http://nixillustration.com

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

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: http://youtube.com/pbsdigitalstudios

    Super special thanks to the following Patreon patrons for helping make Eons possible:

    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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  • Runtime : 7:32
  • dinosaurs dinos paleo paleontology scishow eons pbs pbs digital studios hank green john green complexly fossils natural history Giant Moa flightless birds Haast Eagle Ratites Moa’s Ark Vicariance hypothesis kiwi ostrich emu Elephant Bird Rhea Tinamou Gondwana Lithornis Lithornids Demon Ducks Terror Birds herbivorous birds


  • James Dixon
    James Dixon   23 hours ago

    Is there any evidence the ratites are actually related any more than other birds? If they lost flight independently, maybe they just all lost flight. Are old world and new world bats (or monkeys) closely related?

  • Johnny Li
    Johnny Li   5 days ago

    Is there such a thing as evolutionary predisposition? Like is it possible for a clade of animals to be much more likely to develop a particular trait (such as flightlessness in ratites or slothliness in sloth ancestors) as compared to other groups of organisms? Maybe certain genomes make it easier to acquire mutations that affect a particular trait... For fun, I'll call it the Evolutionary Predisposition Hypothesis. So long as it doesn't become weaponized to support the March of Progress ideas or to suggest that intelligence was somehow destined in certain organisms (i.e. humans). Actually, let's just scrap this idea altogether.

  • uefamikep
    uefamikep   6 days ago

    Now, will Big Bird learn to fly again? Is it possible Big Bird will get the taste of meat and stop their flightless lifestyle?

  • David Lucey
    David Lucey   1 weeks ago

    The man says that in millions of years maybe will see giant flightless birds again?Maybe will see it?My, this gentleman is indeed an optimistic fellow.

  • jpage207
    jpage207   1 weeks ago

    Demon Ducks? I'm starting a college sports team RIGHT NOW

  • Tim Versteeg
    Tim Versteeg   2 weeks ago

    couldn't it be possible to "clone" an Elephant bird by adding their DNA to a Kiwi embryo ?

  • Tim Outman
    Tim Outman   2 weeks ago

    Please have a special on how the non-avian dinosaurs survived the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.

  • Klay Rixh
    Klay Rixh   2 weeks ago

    Finally a video that isn’t over 10 mins. Still long af

  • Geoff O'Hart
    Geoff O'Hart   3 weeks ago

    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.

  • Xen Trading
    Xen Trading   3 weeks ago

    Maybe do a video related to penguin and other "odd" birds =DBirds are cool

  • Max Gazes
    Max Gazes   3 weeks ago

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

  • Matt H
    Matt H   3 weeks ago

    PBS is rocking on youtube

  • FeroxCious
    FeroxCious   3 weeks ago

    Scientists: I hate it when religious people try to use our findings to justify their scriptureAlso 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 months ago

    And how did they defeat the Australians?

  • Edward Gilmour
    Edward Gilmour   1 months ago

    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   1 months ago

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

  • Mikki Carr
    Mikki Carr   1 months ago

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

  • Robert R
    Robert R   1 months ago

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

  • Erl Roe
    Erl Roe   2 months ago

    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

  • Nathan Jarboe
    Nathan Jarboe   2 months ago

    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 ago

    Damn humans 🤦🏻‍♂️

  • theGreenlandShark
    theGreenlandShark   2 months ago

    North Island Giant moa attacked by haast eagle?Haast eagle only lived in the South Island...

  • Jim Archibald
    Jim Archibald   3 months ago

    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 ago

    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 ago

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

  • Miquel Escribano Ivars
    Miquel Escribano Ivars   3 months ago

    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 ago

    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