Scientists have discovered a prehistoric flightless bird whose wings evolved into massive curved weapons.
An extinct bird from Jamaica apparently transformed its wings into banana-shaped clubs to beat its enemies with, scientists find.
The peculiar, roughly chicken-size ibis Xenicibis xympithecusprobably went extinct less than 10,000 years ago, and may have been another casualty of humanity. It was flightless, just as many island birds are, but the 5-pound (2 kilogram) ibis nevertheless retained long wing bones. [Image of extinct bird]
Surprisingly, the "hands" of this bird apparently became massive curved weapons.
"There's just nothing else out there like this in any other vertebrate," researcher Nicholas Longrich, a vertebrate paleontologist at Yale University, told LiveScience. "Usually evolution tends to hit on the same designs over and over, and this is just something completely different, so as a biologist it's sort of cool to find something and be able to say, 'Wow, I haven't seen that one before.'"
Their bizarrely distorted hands had short, block-like fingers, long palm bones thicker than their thighbones, and wrist joints that allowed the wings to swing rapidly like clubs.