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Ground Hornbill - 15 million year old fighters - Preview | by Evan Animals
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Ground Hornbill - 15 million year old fighters - Preview

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The Ground Hornbill are a strange bird, one of the strangest and most ancient animals in the world. What makes them so unique and special, in regards to them being placed in the Hornbill family?


Descendants of Dinosaurs?


Well to start, these are not your normal hornbills. The Ground Hornbills are very unique and have fossil records going back 15 million years ago, making this the oldest hornbill and one of the oldest birds, and animals, in general. These differences lead some to think that this is one of the closest descendants to dinosaurs, and in fact when i first saw them i thought that they looked like raptors (not to be confused with Raptor Jesus).


Not your normal Hornbill


The Ground Hornbills have 15 vertebrates instead of 14 like most hornbills. The ground hornbills live stricty on the ground and only fly when scared or traversing through tall grass. Most hornbill females are "trapped" in their nests, the males close up the nest to leave the female alone so she can produce the eggs. Ground Hornbills do not do this, the females are more free :-D Grounders (my nickname for them) walk instead of hop and, interestingly, do NOT have a carotid artery (unique among birds) which helps bring blood to the brain. Lastly these magical creatures have long beautiful eye lashes, quite beautiful.


Are the Ground Hornbills classified wrong?

Here is some information regarding their classification, read more from the link below the quote:


"The Birds of Africa series followed Kemp & Crowe (1985) by including them within the Bucerotidae but Kemp (1995), referring to a cladistic figure derived from his prior work, stated that the “two species of Bucorvus emerge as the earliest surviving offshoot within the order, sufficiently distinct and long separated to be placed in their own family, the Bucorvidae. They were already evident as a mid-Miocene fossil from Morocco some 15 million years ago.” The decision to separate the Ground-Hornbills into a separate family makes eminent sense to me (from a field ornithologists’ perspective) because of the profound behavioral differences between them and the mostly tree-loving “typical” hornbills."




The Masai believe that the African ground hornbill should never be killed because it will bring bad luck. If one lands on the roof of a house, the occupants must move at once or they believe death will ensue.


Aside from many indigenous tribes in South Africa using the ground hornbill for "muti" (tribal medicine), there are others in Africa who believe that the African ground hornbill is a rain prophet.


I have seen on websites to look at a ground hornbill chick and you will see the resemblance to dinosaurs, what do you think?



Photo Notes:

Processing notes: I did very little in regards to processing, just mainly color correction, brightness and sharpness/blur. I have come to the conclusion that i really need help with my photo processing. I am a self taught photographer and i think it's time to take some lessons. If anyone has any suggestions on classes, workshops or instructors i would love to hear it. I'm in the DC area and would possibly travel.


This high ISO 1600 shot was surprisingly good, and the low f stop was fine. The lighting was very tough because it was a sunny moment and they were in the shade but i was able to capture the moment i think. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

ISO 1600

260 mm

f/ 5.6

1/200 sec

Handheld, no flash

Shot at the Maryland Zoo (in Baltimore).

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Taken on May 16, 2011