Wild Things: Giant Pandas, an Ancient Ibis and More…

Panda-friendly forests, one bizarre bird and foxes on junk food

(Pete Oxford / Minden Pictures)


Xenicibis xympithecus
(Nicholas Longrich / Yale University)
Name: Xenicibis xympithecus, an ibis that lived in Jamaica about 10,000 years ago.
Flight? Not an option; this bird had a bizarre wing that ended with an enlarged and thickened "hand" bone.
Fight? It must have, say researchers at Yale and the Smithsonian Institution. The bird's wings were hinged so that the massive hand bone could be flung at a target, like nunchucks. Fossilized Xenicibis hand bones show evidence of combat trauma. Other birds hit enemies with their wings, but "no animal has ever evolved anything quite like this," says Nicholas Longrich of Yale.

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