The natural world is filled with bizarre and mysterious creatures. Many things that live under the sea serve as inspiration for monster movies and science fiction and fantasy stories. But deep-sea creatures are not the only animals which can serve to terrify the people of the world. We just don’t expect monstrous beasts to shock us when they live above ground.
But the Shoebill stork has the power to horrify. It is so humungous it can make you quiver in your boots. You’ll need to see this bird to believe it. And once you do, you can never un-see its majesty.
Many people do not believe the Shoebill stork is real when they seem images of it. And when you browse through the photos here, you’ll understand why. It is so large. It looks more like a Muppet than a real animal. But in truth, it resembles a prehistoric creature that somehow survived the extinction of the dinosaurs. If you want to see this animal in its habitat, book a plane ticket and a safari to the African wetlands. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see this creature doing what it does best.
Laymen are not the only people who are horrified by this bird. The experts at the Audubon Society agree, calling it “The Most Frightening Bird on Earth.”
You’ve been introduced to it by its name the Shoebill stork, but its scientific name is Balaeniceps rex. Just like the tyrannosaurus rex, this beast has “rex” in its name. The creature is as big and tall as an average child. And its beak is massive and threatening. It looks like it could tear a human apart. And its feet look bigger than basketball players.
From a distance, the Shoebill can look like a statue standing, hunting for prey in the African wetlands. It has gray coloring and blue feathers. It is as beautiful as it is terrifying.
The bird looks fierce. Its eyes are uncompromising, and its beak is massive. The bird also has a large wingspan with thick, blue feathers. The bird is so god-like in its appearance that it has been revered by people dating back to the ancient Egyptians, and probably further back than their civilization.
Right now about 5,000 to 8,000 Shoebill storks continue to live in the wetlands of eastern Africa. They grow to be 60 inches tall, which is as tall as some adults. That’s five feet!
Audubon.org writes, “The Shoebill will stand there, motionless as a statue, and wait for some poor lungfish or baby crocodile to swim by. Then the bird will pounce forward, all five feet of it, with its massive bill wide open, engulfing its target along with water, mud, vegetation, and probably any other hapless fish minding their own business.”
As they hunt for food, Shoebills will stand in one place – without moving – for hours at a time.
Their jaw is so sharp their bite will behead prey. They are relentless and devour creatures like snakes, lizards, catfish, and eels. And sometimes, if they can get them, they snack on baby crocodiles.