What kind of bird is Big Bird? A scientist explains


24 Responses to “What kind of bird is Big Bird? A scientist explains”

  1. Zac says:


    Goofy is a dog, and a startlingly forward-thinking warning about the dangers of over-breeding.

    Also, the video won’t load. I think Boing Boing killed the poor little science site’s bandwidth. Now I’ll never know what Big Bird is!

  2. graywh says:

    Oops. He called Big Bird an adult.

    • Brainspore says:

      Oops. He called Big Bird an adult.

      According to his bio Big Bird is six years old (as has been since the 1970s). That’s about twice the age when ostriches (the second largest living bird species) reach sexual maturity, so who is to say he’s not an adult?

      • Birdguy says:

        Yes, six years old is well into adulthood for birds, even giant flightless birds, and Grandicrocavis has obviously reached adult size. I think observers are confused by the retention of juvenile characters into adulthood, a phenomenon called paedomophosis I mentioned but didn’t have 20 seconds to discuss, which has already been proposed as the flightlessness mechanism for a number of birds. (The best way to shrink wings is to arrest adult development, which has side-effects like fluffy feathers, and, in the case of G. viasesamensis, naivety.)

        W00t I’ve been Boingboinged!

  3. Ignatz says:

    THIS is what I come to BoingBoing for! The answers to really important questions! I love scientific humor, especially biological/ taxonomical gags. I’ve gotta send this to my uncle, the paleontology professor.

  4. Jonathan Badger says:

    Reminds me of the classic Taxonomy of Barney paper.

  5. Robotech_Master says:

    One of my very few memories from my Sesame Street days, about two and a half decades ago, is that Big Bird claims to be a golden condor.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Amazingly, a blue variety of the species exists in europe: do a google image search for Pino.

    If they happen to be of different genders, perhaps it’s possible to set up a breeding program for this wonderful and unique bird.

  7. seyo says:

    he’s an ostrich, everyone knows that! these scientists spend too much time in the lab and not enough time in front of the tv. tv has many answers.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Birds are tricky: “Linnaeus included a group of species—the Paradoxa—that confounded his classification or whose actual existence he questioned. Pelicans, for example, were placed in Paradoxa because Linnaeus thought they might reflect the over-fervent imaginations of New World explorers.”

    from http://www.pnas.org/content/105/suppl.1/11482.full

    • peterbruells says:

      Huh? Why would Linnaeus have thought that? Pelicans live all over the world, they are even mentioned in the bible.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The aristocracy have traditionally been very supportive of taxonomical research. If he wants a blood sample he should speak to the Count.

  10. pinehead says:

    Ha! Well done.

  11. randee says:

    I feel strongly that Big Bird and Kevin must be related somehow. (Reference: “Up”)

  12. Felton says:

    Ah, so Big Bird is a variety of snipe.

  13. morkuma says:

    finally. a good use for scientists in the field of science that are doing science.

  14. EscapingTheTrunk says:

    But can he tell us what Goofy is?

  15. Brainspore says:

    But what about his less famous puppet companion Little Bird? Is it a juvenile? A case of extreme dwarfism? An unrelated species with some superficial morphological convergence?

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