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

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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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  • 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


  • Erl Roe
    Erl Roe   2 weeks 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   3 weeks 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   1 months ago

    Damn humans 🤦🏻‍♂️

  • theGreenlandShark
    theGreenlandShark   1 months ago

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

  • Jim Archibald
    Jim Archibald   1 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   1 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   1 months ago

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

  • Miquel Escribano Ivars
    Miquel Escribano Ivars   1 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   1 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

  • navinkumarpk86
    navinkumarpk86   1 months ago

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

  • FlapJack Ripper
    FlapJack Ripper   1 months ago

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

  • NoArtisticLimitation
    NoArtisticLimitation   1 months ago

    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   1 months ago

    I wish i can observe the extinction of human beings.

  • Diana Gibbs
    Diana Gibbs   1 months ago

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

  • Someone Else
    Someone Else   1 months ago

    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   1 months ago

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

  • MarloSoBalJr
    MarloSoBalJr   2 months ago

    Man the Aussies sure did dodge a bullet against those damn Giant Moas.Oh!... They lost to the hairy chickens known as "Emus?"...

  • Xdeser 2
    Xdeser 2   2 months ago

    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   2 months ago

    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'

  • Oxyaena
    Oxyaena   2 months ago

    "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   2 months ago

    Thank you 👍

  • Saraza
    Saraza   2 months ago

    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   2 months ago

    Sounds like massive job vacancies

  • James
    James   2 months ago

    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.

  • MonsterDude
    MonsterDude   2 months ago

    Giant Kudo: every day is a leg day in the New Zealand.

  • Adewale King
    Adewale King   2 months ago

    Great video, interested in seeing the evolution of crustaceans and genetic difference that make modern species successful in varying climate throughout the world.

  • Xynnful
    Xynnful   2 months ago

    Wait, if we didn't choose to strive, people could've had wings.

  • Christopher Conkright
    Christopher Conkright   2 months ago

    Maybe the ability to evolve into flightless birds is easier with the genetic make up they have so the odds of it happening multiple times was more likely.

  • bespectacled fop
    bespectacled fop   2 months ago

    How about another episode on other flightless bird families?

  • rochrich
    rochrich   2 months ago

    Large flightless birds walking around farms are likely turkeys.