Fossils of a giant stork have been found on the same Indonesian island as Homo floresiensis, a.k.a. the hobbits, and some are hypothesizing that it may have been capable of hunting juvenile members of the species.
They found fossilised fragments of four leg bones in the Liang Bua caves on the island of Flores.
The bones, thought to be belong to a single stork, are between 20,000 to 50,000 years old, having been found in sediments dating to that age.
The giant bird is the latest extreme-sized species to be discovered once living on the island, which was home to dwarf elephants, giant rats and out-sized lizards, as well as humans of small stature.
“I noticed the giant stork bones for the first time in Jakarta, as they stood out from the rest of the smaller bird bones. Finding large birds of prey is common on islands, but I wasn’t expecting to find a giant marabou stork,” Dr Meijer told the BBC.
Only fragments of wing bones were found, but the researchers suspect the giant stork rarely, if at all, took flight.
Instead, the size and weight of its leg bones, and the thickness of the bone walls, suggest that the now extinct stork was so heavy that it lived most of its life on the ground.