Meet the Giant Goose that couldn't fly

  • 11 January 2017
Artist illustration of extinct goose Image copyright Stefano Maugeri/The Royal Society
Image caption Artist illustration of extinct goose

An extinct giant goose is thought to have had wings for fighting and not flying!

Garganornis ballmanni lived around six to nine million years ago on an island in the Mediterranean.

The giant goose weighed 22 kilograms and stood at around 1.5m tall.

Fossils of its bones have been found in central Italy. The wing bones are pretty short for how big it was, meaning it might not have been able to fly.

So were its wings useless? Or did the giant goose use them for something else...

Image copyright Ursula B. Göhlich/The Royal Society
Image caption Drawings of the bones of the giant goose

Marco Pavia at the University of Turin in Italy found a hard, rounded lump on each wing.

This same lump is found on modern birds, including some ducks and geese, that fight over land.

It's thought the giant goose wouldn't have had many predators on the island, so it didn't need its wings to fly away.

However, fresh drinking water could have been hard to find, so it's more likely that it used its wings to fight to defend its territory.

That way, it could get enough water and food to feed its young.