When Birds Stopped Flying

  • Published: 15 November 2018
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    Ratites have spread to Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. And there are fossils of Ratites in Europe, Asia, and North America too. That’s a lot of ground to cover for birds that can’t fly. So how did Ratites end up all over the world?

    Thanks to Ceri Thomas for the Lithornithid reconstruction. Check out more of Ceri's paleoart at alphynix.tumblr.com and nixillustration.com

    Thanks as always to Nobu Tamura for allowing us to use his wonderful paleoart: spinops.blogspot.com/

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: superiorjanitorial.pro/user/pbsdigitalstudios

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    Katie Fichtner, Aldo Espinosa Zúñiga, Anthony Callaghan, Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle, Gregory Donovan, Ehit Dinesh Agarwal, الخليفي سلطان, Gabriel Cortez, Marcus Lejon, Anel Salas, Robert Arévalo, Robert Hill, Kelby Reid, Todd Dittman, Betsy Radley, PS, Colin Sylvester, Philip Slingerland, John Vanek, Jose Garcia, Noah offitzer, Eric Vonk, Tony Wamsley, Henrik Peteri, Jonathan Wright, Jon Monteiro, James Bording, Brad Nicholls, Miles Chaston, Michael McClellan, Jeff Graham, Maria Humphrey, Nathan Paskett, Connor Jensen, Sapjes, Daisuke Goto, Hubert Rady, Yuntao Zhou, Gregory Kintz, Tyson Cleary, Chandler Bass, Maly Lor, Joao Ascensao, Tsee Lee, Sarah Fritts, Ruben Winter, Ron Harvey Jr, Jacob Gerke, Alex Yan

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  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 828

  • Dave Luna
    Dave Luna  16 hours back

    Great topic

    • Geoff O'Hart
      Geoff O'Hart  2 days back

      Is there som other criteria to be labeled a "non avian" dinosaur other then not being avian or is an ostrich a dinosaur? Does it's avian ancestors make it an "avian dinosaur"? Does that make flying dinos birds? So many questions.

      • The Peep
        The Peep  2 days back

        Chicken 🐔

        • lasagna 4layf
          lasagna 4layf  2 days back

          4:02 welp surprise surprise

          • Xen Trading
            Xen Trading  3 days back

            Maybe do a video related to penguin and other "odd" birds =D

            Birds are cool

            • Max Gazes
              Max Gazes  4 days back

              Please do a video on the evolution of penguins!!!!!

              • Matt H
                Matt H  5 days back

                PBS is rocking on youtube

                • FeroxCious
                  FeroxCious  7 days back

                  Scientists: I hate it when religious people try to use our findings to justify their scripture
                  Also scientists: Let's call this concept Moa's Ark'
                  Also scientists: Let's call it 'the god particle'
                  Also scientists: Let's call this 'Mitochondrial Eve'

                  • Ethan
                    Ethan  1 weeks back

                    And how did they defeat the Australians?

                    • Edward Gilmour
                      Edward Gilmour  3 weeks back

                      I'm not sure about the other ratites but the chicks of the Cassowary and Emu are hatched and looked after by the Father ! (not the mother)

                      • TheK01234
                        TheK01234  3 weeks back

                        How did you not somehow manage to mention the Great Australian Emu War? lol

                        • William Hamilton
                          William Hamilton  4 weeks back

                          Can we bring back Moas and Elephant Birds?

                          • Duderobi Patschie
                            Duderobi Patschie  4 weeks back

                            kiwis are big?

                            • Mikki Carr
                              Mikki Carr  1 months back

                              Speaking of flightless birds, I think an episode on the evolution of penguins would be interesting!

                              • Babyccino Au
                                Babyccino Au  1 months back

                                Must’ve been a glitch

                                • Robert R
                                  Robert R  1 months back

                                  So why did emus, ostriches and cassowaries survive human contact?

                                  • Brian Petkovic
                                    Brian Petkovic  2 months back

                                    the males do the raising .

                                    • Erl Roe
                                      Erl Roe  2 months back

                                      I think this guy is speaking a large amount of twaddle for the record the Kiwi does have vestige wings whereas the Moa has none and never has as the Moa never flew and the Kiwi's wings may have some use to the bird or had some value... what nonsense how would they explain the Platypus maybe he thinks they should have flown to and also the penguins they must have flown too they may very closely related to hummingbirds hahahaha

                                      • Luqman Bajwa
                                        Luqman Bajwa  2 months back

                                        What about Penguins?

                                        • Ryan Chua Bowen
                                          Ryan Chua Bowen  2 months back

                                          Discount ostriches

                                          • Nathan Jarboe
                                            Nathan Jarboe  2 months back

                                            Are these dude related to terror birds? Btw, I LOVE your channel. I watch every episode. I can’t believe that some species came out of the ocean, took the land, took the skies, and moved back to the land.

                                            • LJayy97
                                              LJayy97  2 months back

                                              Damn humans 🤦🏻‍♂️

                                              • theGreenlandShark
                                                theGreenlandShark  2 months back

                                                North Island Giant moa attacked by haast eagle?

                                                Haast eagle only lived in the South Island...

                                                • DannatiNomiUtente
                                                  DannatiNomiUtente  2 months back

                                                  5:18 I genuinely have never understood this illustration

                                                  • Jim Archibald
                                                    Jim Archibald  3 months back

                                                    What makes you think the Haast Eagle preyed upon Moas? Todays ostrich is not targeted by birds of prey due to it's size.

                                                    • Doodelay
                                                      Doodelay  3 months back

                                                      There must be something unique about ratites though that made them uniquely capable of getting large and flightless vs other birds. Why didn't other bird families follow suit? The way it's described here implies an inevitability to this size and flightlessness that is a VERY interesting puzzle, but which is left answered by the video.
                                                      Inquiring minds want to know

                                                      • Pedro LL
                                                        Pedro LL  3 months back

                                                        :'Large body size can be protection from predators'

                                                        • Miquel Escribano Ivars
                                                          Miquel Escribano Ivars  3 months back

                                                          Island Ratites: "Yo, what's up friends, I was just wondering what's the deal with that communal nesting behavior thingie?".

                                                          Continetla Raties: " Oh sure, it's a way to defend the nest more efficiently from land predators".

                                                          Island Ratites: "It sure is a nice thing that we have no natural land predators in the islands!"

                                                          *Humans arrive*.

                                                          • John Reid
                                                            John Reid  3 months back

                                                            Why do we blame humans every time something goes extinct exempt this video the two large birds that went extinct because we took their eggs too much one was from Madagascar and I believe the other South America but two other large birds such as ostriches in emu's are still here and I know we get their eggs and have done so for a long time why do some birds go extinct because of that but not all

                                                            • navinkumarpk86
                                                              navinkumarpk86  3 months back

                                                              If we have their DNA can we recreate these lost giant birds?

                                                              • FlapJack Ripper
                                                                FlapJack Ripper  3 months back

                                                                But.. Kevin is a girl. Right? Ask Russell and Dug about it.

                                                                • NoArtisticLimitation
                                                                  NoArtisticLimitation  3 months back

                                                                  Interesting thing about New Zealand. Due to the lack of predators, very few birds could even fly, and even our bats are almost grounded.

                                                                  And even then, some of the birds that can fly (like the wood pigeon) can barely remain airborne, and certainly not after eating.

                                                                  • neil cutter
                                                                    neil cutter  3 months back

                                                                    I wish i can observe the extinction of human beings.

                                                                    • Diana Gibbs
                                                                      Diana Gibbs  3 months back

                                                                      So are rattites polyphyletic or was there some weird predisposition in their genome to develop flightlessness and large size?

                                                                      • Someone Else
                                                                        Someone Else  3 months back

                                                                        No, we won't see any new flightless birds. Simply because we have committed suicide as a species long before that happens.

                                                                        • Luis Hoyos
                                                                          Luis Hoyos  3 months back

                                                                          How did penguins came to be, will they become marine creatures ?

                                                                          • Sean Stockton
                                                                            Sean Stockton  3 months back

                                                                            and steve

                                                                            • Nairda Charles
                                                                              Nairda Charles  3 months back

                                                                              O.K. , I'll bite. Who the hell is Steve?

                                                                              • MarloSoBalJr
                                                                                MarloSoBalJr  3 months back

                                                                                Man the Aussies sure did dodge a bullet against those damn Giant Moas.

                                                                                Oh!... They lost to the hairy chickens known as "Emus?"...

                                                                                • The wanderer 748
                                                                                  The wanderer 748  3 months back


                                                                                  • Xdeser 2
                                                                                    Xdeser 2  3 months back

                                                                                    The picture at 6:07 feels weird and anachronistic considering that 2500 years ago roughly was contemporaneous with Alexander the Great, Qin Shi Huang, The Founding of the Roman Republic and the Mayan city states, and not, like, early man.

                                                                                    • creepy whiteTrash
                                                                                      creepy whiteTrash  3 months back

                                                                                      So in definition what is a ratite? With the amount of convergent evolution going on there sure only one continent is the home of a 'true ratite'

                                                                                      • Beau Deeley
                                                                                        Beau Deeley  3 months back

                                                                                        This dude talks too slowly

                                                                                        • Oxyaena
                                                                                          Oxyaena  3 months back

                                                                                          "if size is so advantageous why did the biggest of the bunch, the moas and the elephant bird, go extinct? well that's easy - it's because of us" so blunt lmfao

                                                                                          • Ali A
                                                                                            Ali A  4 months back

                                                                                            Thank you 👍

                                                                                            • Saraza
                                                                                              Saraza  4 months back

                                                                                              I wonder what that common ancestor had that made the species predisposed to evolving in a very similar way in multiple environments?

                                                                                              • David Sau
                                                                                                David Sau  4 months back

                                                                                                Sounds like massive job vacancies

                                                                                                • James
                                                                                                  James  4 months back

                                                                                                  I think what makes this particular case of human-caused extinction so frustrating is that it happened so recently. Like the Roman empire would have fallen around the same time Moa when extinct. Living in NZ, it's such a shame that such an awesome product of evolution came so close to being able to reach modern NZ where it would have been protected and studied.