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The Shoebill Stork Looks Like Something Out Of Jim Henson's Nightmares

Amy Pilkington 15 May 2020

Most of the birds I choose to feature are novel in some way. They're an unusually fancy pigeon, or an incredible rainbow of colors, or are just so cute that you can't believe they might really exist.

But occasionally I come across a bird that's novel in a different way; a bird that you take one look at and think "Yep, that definitely descended from dinosaurs."

And yep, the shoebill definitely descended from dinosaurs.

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I mean, its scientific name is Balaeniceps rex for crying out loud.

It's commonly referred to as a shoebill stork and was once classified as part of that family, but has since been corrected to belong with the Pelecaniformes family of waterbirds.

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Shoebills live in large swampy areas in tropical east Africa.

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They are huge birds, averaging about four-and-a-half feet in height, though taller specimens have been found. Their wingspan can be as wide as eight feet.

As a petite, five-foot-one woman, I am not okay with this.

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Did I mention they eat large fish, snakes, and even baby crocodiles? Because they do.

Reddit | piefordays

Possibly the most unnerving thing about them is how they stand and wait. They will stretch themselves to full height, hold their bill down against their chest, and just stand and stare for hours.

During which, they look like a human in a bird suit. Probably one made in the nightmare department of the Jim Henson Creature Workshop.

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And like most Jim Henson monsters, it's kind of cute too?

Not like I want to go anywhere near one, but they awkward, puppet-like look and movements are kind of endearing.

In terms of evolution, these guys got a very weird end of the stick. All the creepiness of a dinosaur, but the grace of a one-legged duck in a three-legged race.

h/t: Mental Floss

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