The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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bones, with feathers attached to them, have been dis­covered, and from these feathers, combined with a long neck and small head, we gather that the Moa must have resembled an emu or cassowary in appearance.
When New Zealand was first discovered the Maoris found the country, greatly to their surprise, to be nearly empty of land animals belonging to the mammal class, although it swarmed with running birds. Some of them, like the great Dinornis, were as tall as an elephant; but, large or small, their wings were always very tiny and quite useless, and their bones, developed by much running, particularly strong.
The nearer we get to the history of the earth as we know it, the more numerous become the birds, some of which, though now extinct, have lived on till recent years. The remains of a huge bird, called the Epiornis, which in size rivalled the great Dinornis, have been found among the soil brought down by the rivers of Madagascar. Very often a huge egg has lain beside these bones, measuring thirteen or fourteen inches across. This must surely have been the 'roc's egg,' which the Genius refused to give to Aladdin, which was six times as big as that of an ostrich, and capable, says Professor Owen, of containing 148 eggs of a hen.!
Travellers in the Indian Ocean during the seventeenth century have left us some interesting tales about a short fat bird, then inhabiting Mauritius and the neighbouring islands, known as the Dodo. And it might have been living there yet, had it not been for men's insane passion for killing. The Dodo was rather bigger than a swan, with a short stumpy tail, decorated, like the little wings, with a bunch of soft feathers like those of an ostrich. Its legs were very short also, and this fact, combined with the weight of its body, rendered it difficult for the Dodo to escape from its pursuers. The flesh seems to have been more appreciated by Dutch sailors than English ones, if we are to judge from the description of our explorer, who
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