The taxonomic affinities of Big Bird

By Hilary Miller 06/07/2010


I’m not talking about any big bird, but THE Big Bird, the one who hangs out on Sesame Street. Mike Dickison, zoologist and information design specialist in Christchurch, gave this talk at a recent pecha-kucha event (a pecha-kucha is a talk in which 20 slides play for exactly 20 seconds each, and the speaker tries to keep up). Mike first gave this talk at a graduate student conference while in the early stages of his PhD on flightless birds. He says he had a revelation while poking around in the storage cabinets in the Berlin Museum of Natural History: ’I had… an original scientific insight that I am happy now to share with the world. I realised what kind of bird Big Bird almost certainly is, and figured out something of its evolutionary history.’

I have to say, I’m pretty surprised about the conclusion.