As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday 26 May 2013

The REAL Angry Birds: Extinct relation of the pigeon was 'built for fighting'


PUBLISHED: 17:24, 24 May 2013 | UPDATED: 17:26, 24 May 2013 

· Researchers from London's Natural History Museum have discovered that the small 'musket ball' knobs found on the wings of the now extinct solitaire bird were used for fighting 

· It is thought that the knobs were a result of fighting and the Mauritian birds then evolved so the knobs developed naturally 

· The solitaires became extinct at the end of the 1700s but were genetically similar to modern-day pigeons 

A now extinct giant flightless pigeon from Mauritius used its small but deadly wings to fight off competitors and communicate with mates, according to new research published this week. 

Researchers from the Natural History Museum in London studied fossils of the solitaire, officially known as Pezophaps solitaria, and in particular the unique ‘musket ball’ structure on the bird’s wing. 

They discovered that the birds used the circular nodes as a way of fighting with other birds and fending off prey. 

Writing in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, ornithologist Julian Hume from the Natural History Museum said: ‘We know from detailed historical notes from eighteenth-century sailors that the birds were aggressive. 

'They also describe a musket-ball-like bony growth on the wings, which was originally thought to be the result of injury. 

When we compared the wings of solitaire fossils from the caves of Rodrigues, an outer island of Mauritius, to modern birds we found that these growths were largest in adult males. 

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