Cygnus falconeri

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Giant swan
Temporal range: Middle Pleistocene
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Cygnus
Species: C. falconeri
Binomial name
Cygnus falconeri
Parker, 1865[1]

Cygnus falconeri, the giant swan, is an extinct, very large swan known from Middle Pleistocene-aged deposits from Malta and Sicily. Its dimensions are described as exceeding those of the living mute swan by one-third,[2] which would give a bill-to-tail length of about 190–210 cm (based on 145–160 cm for C. olor[3]). It would have been taller, though not heavier, than the region's dwarf elephants. Due to its size, it may have been flightless.[4] It became extinct before the increase in human activity in the region (see Holocene extinction event), so its disappearance is thought to have resulted from extreme climate fluctuations or the arrival of superior predators and competitors.[5]


  1. ^ Parker, W.K. (1865). Preliminary notes on some fossil birds from the Zebbug Cave, Malta. Proceedings Zoological Society of London. 1865:752–753
  2. ^ Heilprin, Angelo (1974). The Geographical and Geological Distribution of Animals (reprint). New York: Ayer Publishing. p. 333. ISBN 0-405-05742-3. 
  3. ^ Snow, D. W. & Perrins, C. M. (1998). The Birds of the Western Palearctic Concise Edition. OUP ISBN 0-19-854099-X.
  4. ^ Antoni, Josep (May 30, 2000). Vertebrate Evolution and Extinction on Western and Central Mediterranean Islands. Tropics. 10:103-123
  5. ^ Thake, M.A. (May 1985). The Biogeography of the Maltese Islands, Illustrated by the Clausiliidae. Journal of Biogeography. 12:275