Meet the biggest bird to have walked on earth

Named Vorombe titan- Malagasy for

Named Vorombe titan- Malagasy for"big bird- the creature would have stood at least three m tall and had an average weight of 650 kg making it the largest bird genus yet uncovered

The debate over "world's largest bird" has been put to rest as British scientists have discovered that a three-metre-tall ostrich-like creature - Vorombe Titan, weighed nearly a tonne and is the world's largest bird. He has named the species and genus Vorombe titan; vorombe is a Malagasy word meaning "big bird". "I find it incredible that we know less about the world's largest-ever birds that were walking around just 1,000 years ago than we do many dinosaurs that have been extinct for millions of years!" The later discovery of an even larger Aepyornis titan wasn't widely accepted as a separate species, but simply as an unusually large specimen of A. maximus.

Experts have spent decades poring over conflicting evidence and arguing about what was the largest bird that ever lived. Armed with a tape measure and a pair of callipers, Dr Hansford analysed hundreds of elephant bird bones from museums across the globe to uncover the world's largest bird, while also revealing their taxonomy is in fact spread across three genera and at least four distinct species; thus, constituting the first taxonomic reassessment of the family in over 80 years.

Hansford added, "They would have towered over people". They definitely couldn't fly as they couldn't have supported anywhere near their weight. This is because large-bodied animals have an enormous impact on the wider ecosystem they live in via controlling vegetation through eating plants, spreading biomass and dispersing seeds through defecation. "Madagascar still suffers from extinction of these birds".

In the study Hansford examined elephant bird bones found around the world.

The shape and size of the titan bird's bones were so unique and so much larger than those of other elephant bird spices, ZSL scientists made a decision to rename the species Vorombe titan - granting the bird a new genus classification.

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The elephant bird was described in 1894 by the British scientist CW Andrews as Aepyornis titan - a larger species of Aepyornis maximus. After taxonomic reshuffling and examination of collected elephant bird remains, researchers say that a member of a previously unidentified genus of the birds could have weighed more than 1,700 pounds, making it by far the largest bird ever known.

Its petrified eggs still fetch large sums at auction and it stars in HG Wells' 1895 work Aepyornis Island.

Elephant birds "probably played the most significant roles in maintaining and developing the landscapes that were natural to Madagascar before humans got there", he said. It is a new addition to the elephant bird family, an extinct group of colossal flightless birds that roamed Madagascar during the Later Quaternary - which scientists thought comprised only of the Aepyornis and Mullerornis genera.

The reasons for and timings of their extinctions remain unclear, although there are written accounts of elephant bird sightings on the island in the 17th century.

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