Australia's Vanished Beasts

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Giant Coucal
Centropus (genus)

"Giant" is relative here—this bird was simply bigger than all existing coucals, which are members of the cuckoo family. The giant coucal probably spent most of its time on the ground, feeding on insects, amphibians, and lizards. Perhaps only in emergencies, such as during an attack by a predator, would it take flight, likely in short, labored bursts—all its smallish wings could provide. This illustration shows the giant coucal in breeding (top) and nonbreeding plumage, though it's entirely speculative; no one knows the actual color of its plumage. Like so much about the vanished Australian megafauna, answers may lie in fossils still unfound, awaiting discovery and analysis by paleontologists.

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