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Extinct giant stork towered over ‘hobbits’ on Flores

Scientists have discovered an extinct massive stork, standing nearly 6 feet tall (1.8 meter) and weighing 35 pounds (15 kilograms), which would have shared the island of Flores with the ‘hobbits’—dwarf hominin species known as Homo floresiensis—reports the BBC. According to the researchers the meat-eating stork was big enough to prey on young Homo floresiensis, and stood about 2 and a half feet (0.8 meters) above adult hobbits.

Named Leptoptilos robustus the stork was related to contemporary large tropical storks in the Lepotoptilos genus, such as Africa’s marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus), and Asia’s greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) and lesser adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus). Only the Leptoptilos robustus was bigger than any of these.

The giant stork shared the weird and wild habitat of Flores with today’s Komodo dragon, an extinct giant rat (one foot and 3 inches or 40 centimeters long), an extinct pygmy elephant, and of course the now famous hobbits, Homo floresiensis.

Scientists are still debating whether or not Homo floresiensis was a distinct hominin species or a group of humans suffering from disorders. However, the weight of evidence currently appears to point to the Indonesian hobbits as a unique species.

Marabou stork in Zimbabwe. Photo by: Tiffany Roufs.

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