Aepyornis was among the heaviest of birds (the extinct Dromornis stirtoni of Australia reached a similar weight).
While they were in close geographical proximity to the ostrich, elephant birds' closest living relatives are kiwis, The elephant birds, which were giant ratites native to Madagascar, have been extinct since at least the 17th century.
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As the seat of Miami-Dade County, the municipality is the principal, central, and the most populous city of the Miami metropolitan area and part of the second-most populous metropolis in the southeastern United States. For more than two decades, the Port of Miami, known as the "Cruise Capital of the World", has been the number one cruise passenger port in the world.
Aepyornis maximus is commonly known as the 'elephant bird', a term that apparently originated from Marco Polo's account of the rukh in 1298, although he was apparently referring to an eagle-like bird strong enough to "seize an elephant with its talons".
The Miami area subsequently became a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War.
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The Tequestas occupied the area for a thousand years before encountering Europeans. In 1566 the explorer, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, claimed it for Spain.
An Indian village of hundreds of people dating to 500–600 B. A Spanish mission was constructed one year later in 1567.