Friday, September 23, 2016

Malagasy megafauna

Madagascar nowadays is mostly known for it's small, quirky and cute fauna like the ring-tailed lemur, and the largest of its native fauna like the fossa is no bigger than a small dog, but just 2,000 years ago, this land was home to elephant birds (1649), which stood 3 m tall and weighed 400 kg, making it the largest dinosaur of the Cenozoic and it also had the distinct honor of having layed the largest egg in both comparison to the body size and simple size alone of any dinosaur. The lemurs themselves also boosted several unusually large species, including Koala lemurs (1397), Sloth lemurs (1554), Monkey lemurs (900 AD), Giant ruffed lemurs (780 AD), and Giant aye-ayes (1,000 AD). Koala lemurs and sloth lemurs were about the size of gorillas. But not all of Madagascar's extinct fauna was big, a 3rd group of animals that no longer exist on the island are hippos (1467). Hippos in Madagascar weren't giants like their famous mainland relatives, but rather small pig-sized creatures more like the endangered pygmy hippopotamus. Neither elephant birds or sloth lemurs faced any serious predation, besides maybe the crocodiles, because Madagascar never had any predators since Majungasaurus, as the largest ground predator of the time, the deceptively named giant fossa (1658) was actually no larger than a coyote. All of Madagascar's giants went extinct since man's arrival.

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