Giant animals that lived on Madagascar

When in 1658 Admiral Etienne de Flamer released a “History of the Great island of Madagascar”, that has summarized his long stay in this corner of the Earth, it was the most incredible set of information that is perceived as the fable of the travellers and their veracity was established only centuries later.

Speaking of birds “inhabit the forest”, Flaker, for example, wrote: “Murupara — big bird living in Anatreh, lays eggs like the ostrich, in the most desert places.”

After Flacura and other travellers wrote about the big bird, and they are also called visionaries. She also carried eggs, larger than those that “produce” the owls, and the locals used them as dishes.

Here is what Ferdinand von Hochstetter:

“Madagaskari came to Mauritius to buy rum. Tara, which they brought with them consisted of the shells of eggs, eight times larger than the ostrich, and 135 times more than chicken, they hold more than 9 liters. They said that the eggs of these are sometimes found in desert areas, and the birds rarely see.”

It is clear that all this was perceived as a joke. If the ostrich in height of 2 meters 50 centimeters was considered a giant bird-monster, then what can we say about the giant who carried the eggs in in:seven times larger than an ostrich?

As I thought of the Orientalists, these rumors were nothing more than echoes of a legend about a bird Ruhh from fairy tales “Thousand and one nights”, scary creatures, has earned a dubious reputation among the Arab seamen. It is so huge, that when he appeared in the sky, there was a shadow: the wings covered the sun. And so strong that it can grab the elephant and lift it in the air and on the horn to impale several animals. Sometimes, she was carrying the whole court with the crew…

During his second voyage of Sindbad the Sailor met with this bird, once found an egg. It was 50 feet wide!

When Herodotus wrote about giant African birds, their size seemed more modest: the Egyptian priests told him about a volatile race of giants who lived on the other side of the source of the Nile, and they had the power to elevate man. Remember that the large eagle is able to lift a creature no bigger than a rabbit…

Marco Polo in the fourteenth century from the mouth of the Kublai Khan heard the echoes of the same tale. Asian Lord showed him the feathers of a bird “with a length of about 20 meters” and two eggs of considerable size. And added that the Rock originates from the island of Madagascar on the South side.

Thus, stories about the bird Rukh and malarskie legends coincided in time and space. But it seemed incredible that a bird weighing several hundred kilograms can get in the air. But it was believed that if the bird should be able to fly. And bird Rock, she murupara, was declared a fable.

Eggs of aepyornis

As the years passed, and in 1834 French traveler Gudo picked up on the island halves of the shell incredible size serving bottles for locals. He made a drawing and sent it in 1840 in Paris ornithologist Jules, Verro. That, on the basis of only one kind of eggs, called poultry, it snesshy, aphorism, “big bird”.

After a few years, this is the name that initially drew suspicion, was legitimized when Dumeril in 1848 saw a whole egg in the vicinity of Diego-Suarez. “It can hold 13 bottles of liquid”.

And in 1851 was finally officially recognized that the island was infested with giant birds: the captain of a merchant ship Malavoi brought to the Paris Museum two eggs 32 inches length and 22 width. They got about eight liters (8 140 ostrich and chicken eggs). From one such egg can make an omelet for 70 people.

After a few years of the famous Explorer Alfred Grandidier was taken from the swamps Ambulatory uncertain of bone, which belonged, at first glance, some thick-skinned. But studies have shown that bird bones (“birds-elephant”). To be honest, the watchers weren’t very surprised, because even a few years before R. Owen described the MoA bone remains from New Zealand. Based on the available material, Isidore Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire described the species Aepyornis maximus.

In fact, aepyornis not more MoA for growth (growth of MoA — 2 meters 50 centimeters). In the Paris Museum there is a restored skeleton of aepyornis — 2.68 meter. But this is a very large increase.

Eggs of aepyornis

To be honest, a direct connection between the growth of the bird and its egg there. Remember kiwi from New Zealand: her eggs are comparable to that of the ostrich, and the bird itself is not larger than the chicken. And weight get following data: 440 pounds for the largest aepyornis and 329 — MoA of medium size.

When the giants disappear?

The study of the bones of aepyornis showed that unlike the legendary Rough this is a real bird couldn’t fly. Like other birds keel, her relatives, the cassowary, MoA, EMU… the Wings were underdeveloped.

But whether the bird was identified Flamer under the name murupara? Eggs found in the sand in the dunes of the South and South-East or in the mud of the marshes, was suspiciously fresh, as if they had just demolished. And bones didn’t seem minerals…

Began to question the inhabitants. They were told that the birds are found in the remote corners of the island, but see them very rarely. But naturalists, who is still under the influence of Cuvier, don’t want to believe it, therefore nobody is engaged not only in search of birds, but did not study the reasons for its disappearance.

The skull of aepyornis

One thing is certain: the man could not be the sole cause of her death, in contrast to the story of MoA purupuru, or voronitsu, not slaughtered for meat. In the legends about it, there is no word (and the Maori was happy to talk about hunting MoA with a simple peak with a stone tip).

In an attempt to explain the death of aepyornis reached asphyxiation caused by gas outlets in certain areas of the island. But isn’t it too difficult? Most likely, business in the areas. The climate is changing, people drained swamps, disappeared last refuge.

Dried giant swamp in the highlands Antsirabea and Betafo. Epiornisy got deeper into the quagmire and died there without finding food. It proves their remains found in peat bogs. Clearly, the man accelerated the end voronitsy, she survived to recent times, prior to 1862 (when the people have clearly seen it), short of not quite a bit to our days.

Other giants of Madagascar

Different factors contributed to the destruction not only of aepyornis, but also other types, such as mullerornis, giant cassowary area Ankaratra, centronia and many others. But no sooner do we bury them?

As well as on the neighboring Islands — the Seychelles and the Mascarene, — here were giant tortoise Testudo grandidieri weighing up to one ton. She apparently became a victim of the drought. But according to Raymond Decarie, an expert on the fauna of Madagascar, the extermination of turtles was not widespread.

“There are rumors about the presence in certain caves of the South-West of the mysterious creature may be a giant turtle, not whether it is about latest representatives of Testudo grandidieri?” writes the zoologist.

The carapace of the tortoise Testudo grandidieri

Another view: in Madagascar was infested with giant crocodiles, the skull of which reached 80 centimeters width. There is evidence that they are still here.

Total drainage of wetlands led to the disappearance on the island of hippos. Before here were the giants, reminiscent of the Pleistocene hippopotamuses of Africa. Not about them writing in 1829 in his book “Travel around the world” the great wanderer Dumont, Durval sailing on the rivers of Madagascar?

On the other hand, there is an assumption that it is the hippopotamus, or rather his image, transformed by legend, was the basis of the myth of culombe or amberina — the water bull, plumule, polulated hump.

If we are talking about the Hippo, he has changed a lot in legends, because Colombi a huge floppy ears. In addition, it “gave” shout, leading to the horror of anyone, as well as aggressive, cannibalistic habits. The tribes mahafaly and entrance, according to R. Decarie, ascribe to him the eggs actually belonged to aepyornis.

There are rumors about nilalaman, which means “the father or the ancestor of the hippopotamus”. He allegedly lives in swamps, and in his forehead is a horn. It’s all very reminiscent of the famous “Dinosaur of the Congo” (mokele-mbembe). Maybe the invaders are a Bantu tribe that appeared here, brought along descriptions of the mysterious beings of the continent.

Both hypotheses have a right to exist, and in both cases there are similarities with the Congolese reptile — the body of a hippopotamus, horn, hanging ears (which actually can be fleshy growths on the edges of the head and see the dragon from the portico of Ishtar), eucerotinae, talking about reptiles, swamp dwelling, aggressive nature, and, finally, the screams.

If the creature lived in Madagascar, you probably could be one of the first victims of the drying swamps and lakes. If that’s not a giant turtle. Or barnstormer-a crocodile from the continent…

Treetree and a man with a dog’s head

Madagascar is called the land polyisoprene animals. No other island can not become such a showcase of ancient history. The remains of animals, birds, reptiles are often so fresh that many people wonder and not live if their “owners”?

Often, legends and oral traditions claim that people know them until relatively recently. Remember the principle of Gennep in which memories of events are lost for two centuries where there is no oral tradition. So so great interest in travelers ‘ memories.

Flamer except aepyornis wrote about another mysterious animal: “Treetree, or trateratra, the size of a bull with a human face. He reminds tanata Ambroise, pare. It is a solitary animal, and the people of the country fear him and flee from him…”

The first reaction of the naturalists of that time were, of course, is clear — a myth. Madagascar never lived anything like it, and there’s monkeys-that these never happened. Moreover, this amazing look. So, someone has repeated the naive fable of Marco Polo and Kasia?

The first camouflage was removed when they opened the indri (Indris brevicaudatus), the largest of the current lemurs that meet the description of “a man with a dog head.” The height is about one meter, almost no tail (stump), often gets up on his hind legs, being on earth, is remarkably similar to humans. Stretched his muzzle more like a Fox than a dog.

Looking at it, I understand why clan members Betsimisaraka at the same time and killed him, and worshiped, calling babakoto (father-child), considering a descendant of the man who retired to the forest. Let us add that all the lemurs for malgache Fadi (taboo), because it is believed to be another incarnation of the person.

And at the end of the 19th century in Madagascar were found the remains of huge fossil lemur, who was named megaladapidae. The growth of adult megaladapidae was comparable with the growth of the little man, the weight is allegedly up to 70 pounds (megaladapidae Edwards even up to 200 kilograms).

It is believed that megaladapidae became extinct in the 10th Millennium BC, but there is radiocarbon Dating, according to which megaladon Edwards still lived in Madagascar at the time of the arrival of the Europeans in 1504.


In those same years, Madagascar has yielded the remains of palaeopropithecus. Palaeopropithecus is a genus of subfossil lemurs that lived in Madagascar from Pleistocene to historical time. Palaeopropithecus was also large primates, weighing 40 to 55 pounds.

Palaeopropithecus exactly lived on Madagascar by the time of arrival of the person (the most recent remains are from deposits, Ancylite, according to radiocarbon datings, from XIV—XV century a new era). They could also be those who were called treetree.

Fading heart of Gondwana

Logically, in Madagascar one would look for the same part of Gondwana, and on the African continent. In fact, the island is the African Zoological province. Malarskie animals are characterized by, on the one hand, originality of forms, and on the other — reveal a kinship with the forms of South America and the Indo-Malay region.

Among the typical forms of Madagascar — lemurs differ from other primates nearby anatomical features. It is for this appearance of the scientists and gave them the name “lemur”, as the Romans called phantoms of dead people. But lemurs don’t live only on Madagascar. Part of the spread in Africa — bushbaby, potto and angwantibo, and Malaysia — Laurie and the slow Loris.

But in Madagascar live forms, completely unknown in Africa. Moreover, they are known as the… the Antilles! And in South America. This cocktail is due to the presence of the huge continent of Gondwana.

The study of fossil remains of lemurs have shown that even in the recent era there were a great many. Megaladapidae were real rhinos, lazewski trees. They did it despite its size, thanks to the tenacious fingers. But there are numerous others. And looking at them, I think that the description Flacura not seem so fantastic.

Who is toindia — “jumper-Pets” living in the trees and emitting human sounds? And who are colanero, malarskie dwarves?

“All the tribes, writes Decarie, believe in some semblance of our dwarfs, goblins and gnomes. Their names change according to districts: babilona, kotokoli and so on. Colonia — like amphibians. On lake Alcatra they live as sirens or mermaids with long, long hair, live in the water, pulling his hands to the cake, grab the children”.

According to the beliefs of betsileo, Colonia, on the contrary, the land being of a height of two cubits, covered with long hair, he has a wife named kotokoli, lives in caves. She steals children from their people and replaces them with his own.

In the area of lake Kinkong have sakalava another concept colanero. Is being male, living on the banks of ponds. Dimensions less than one meter. It has a sweet female voice, feeds on fish, evening walks around the neighborhood. Meets a man, starts talking to him and lured to the pond.

Further North colanero lives in the woods and caves, not to attack people specifically, but has sharp claws and can hurt when it is trying to grab.

A strange legend, common throughout the island, fresh bones found in the southwest, and the conditions of their occurrence indicate that hadramitic (another ancient form of lemur) can live up to recent epochs in the Bar area, Ambatondrazaka.

Many areas of Madagascar are still completely unexplored, and the millions of hectares of forest could survive and giant lemurs. Remember, Okapi, long time he lived incognito.

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