Struthio asiaticus Milne-Edwards, 1871

Asian ostrich



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Struthio palaeindicus Falconer, 1868 (nomen nudum); Megaloscelornis sivalensis Lydekker, 1879; Struthio indicus Bidwell, 1910


Many species have been synonymized with S. asiaticus over the years, which has lead to a confusing taxonomic situation, especially given the fact that fossilized remains of this species have been found both over widely disparate geographic areas, and through several stratigraphic layers (i.e. different ages). It is likely that several different species are represented by the material lumped under "Struthio asiaticus" (Sahni et al. 1990; Boev & Spassov, 2009). Hopefully further fossil finds will be able to better determine the various relationships amongst these closely related (palaeo)species.


Conservation Status

Last record: Late Pleistocene or early Holocene


New carbon dating has shown that the Asian Ostrich survived until at least 13-10,000 yBP in Mongolia and southern Siberia (Kurockin et. al. 2010). It also survived in China until the late Pleistocene, or even early Holocene as well. Though it's survival there past 138-126 BC seems very unlikely given the importation of ostriches into China, where nobody had seen them before (Laufer, 1926).



Africa to Asia


Biology & Ecology










Original scientific description:

Milne-Edwards, A. (1867-71).  Recherches anatomiques et paléontologiques pour servir à l’histoire des oiseaux fossiles de la France. Victor Masson et Fils édit., Paris: t. I, 1-474; atlas, pl. 1-96 ; t. II, 1-627; atlas, pl. 97-200.


Other references:

Andrews, C. W. (1911). Notes on some fragments of fossil egg shell of a large struthious bird from southern Algeria, with some remarks on some pieces of egg shell of an ostrich from northern India. In H. Schalow (ed.), Verhandlungen des 5. Internationalen Ornithologen-Kongresses, Berlin 1910, p. 173. Berlin.

Bednarik, Robert G. (2005). The technology and use of beads in the Pleistocene. Submitted to Paul Bouissac on 8-8-2005 for Archaeology of Gesture conference, Cork 2005. [accessed 5-2-2012]

Bednarik, Robert G. and Fushun, Li. (1991). Rock art dating in China: past and future. The Artefact 14: 25-33.

Behera, Pradeep K. and Badam, G. L. (2019). Further Light on the Ostrich in Indian Rock Art: Evidence from Hitasara, Odisha. Heritage 7: 279-288.

Bidwell, E. (1910a). Struthio indicus sp n named from fossil eggshell from the United Provinces, India. [incomplete citation]

Bidwell, E. (1910b). Remarks on some fragments of egg-shell of a fossil ostrich from India. Ibis 9(4): 759-761.

Blinkhorn, James et al. (2015). Ostrich expansion into India during the Late Pleistocene: Implications for continental dispersal corridors. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 417: 80-90.

Boev, Zlatozar & Spassov, Nikolai. (2009). First record of ostriches (Aves, Struthioniformes, Struthionidae) from the late Miocene of Bulgaria with taxonomic and zoogeographic discussion. Geodiversitas 31 (3): 493-507.

Davies, W. (1880). On some fossil bird-remains from the Siwalik Hills in the British Museum. The Geological Magazine, New Series, Decade II, 7: 18-27.

Jain S, Rai N, Kumar G, Pruthi PA, Thangaraj K, Bajpai S, et al. (2017). Ancient DNA Reveals Late Pleistocene Existence of Ostriches in Indian Sub-Continent. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0164823.

Kumar, G., G. Narvare and R.K. Pancholi. (1988). Engraved ostrich eggshell objects: new evidence of Upper Palaeolithic art in India, Rock Art Research 5: 43-53.

Kurockin, Evgeny N. and Lungu, A. N. (1970). A new Ostrich from the Middle Sarmatian of Moldavia. Paleontological Journal (translation of Paleont. Zhur.) 1: 103-111.

Kurockin, Evgeny N. et. al. (2010). The timing of ostrich existence in Central Asia: AMS 14C age of eggshells from Mongolia and southern Siberia (a pilot study). Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms 268(7-8): 1091-1093.

Laufer, Berthold. (1926). Ostrich egg-shell cups of Mesopotamia and the Ostrich in ancient and modern times. Anthropology Leaflet No. 23. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History. 51 pp.

Lydekker, Richard. (1884). Siwalik Birds. Memoires of the Geological Survey of India 10(3): 136-202.

Lydekker, Richard. (1884-1886). Indian Tertiary and Post-Tertiary Vertebrata. Vol. III, part 4. Siwalik Birds. Palaeontologia Indica, Calcutta, ser. X, 3: 135-147.

Manegold A., Louchart A., Carrier J., Elzanowski A. (2013). The Early Pliocene avifauna of Langebaanweg South Africa: a review and update. Proceedings 8th International Meeting Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution 135-152.

Mikhailov, K. E. (1991). Classification of fossil eggshells of amniotic vertebrates. Acta Palaeotologica Polonica 36: [pagination?].

Minkovsky, Jiri, Chenzychenova, Fedora and Filippov, Andrej. (1997). Quaternary birds of the Baikal region, East Siberia. Acta Soc. Zool. Bohem. 61: 151-156. [includes many references to egg shells collections of this species in Russia]

Mourer-Chauvire, Cécile and Geraads, Denis. (2005). The Struthionidae and Pelagornithidae (Aves: Struthioniformes, Odontopterygiformes) From the late Pliocene of Ahl Al Ooughlam, Morocco. In: 6ème Symposium international de la Society for Avian Paleontology and Evolution (SAPE), Esperaza: France (2005). Editors?

Mourer-Chauviré, C. and Geraads, D. (2008). The Struthionidae and Pelagornithidae Aves: Struthioniformes, Odontopterygiformes from the late Pliocene of Ahl Al Oughlam, Morocco. 7: 169-194.

Routledge, Jennifer. (2020). Ostrich Eggshell from the Far Eastern Steppe: Stable Isotopic Exploration of Range, Commodification, and Extirpation. MSc thesis, Trent University. [preview]

Sahni, A., Kumar, G. Bajpai, S. and Srinivasan, S. (1990). A review of Late Pleistocene ostriches (Struthio sp.) in India. Man and Environment 15(1): 41-47.

Sauer, E. G. F. (1968). Calculations of struthious egg sizes from measurements of shell fragments and their correlation with phylogenetic aspects. Cimbebasia A 1(2): 24-55.

Vanwezer, Nils et al. (In Press, 2021). Hunting, herding, and people in the rock art of Mongolia: New discoveries in the Gobi-Altai Mountains. Archaeological Research in Asia. doi:

Zelenkov, N. V. (2015). The nomenclature of the avian skeleton, pp. 61-85. In: Kurochkin, E. N., Lopatin, A. V. and Zelenkov, N. V. (eds.). Fossil Vertebrates of Russia and Adjacent Countries. Fossil Reptiles and Birds. Part 3. Moscow: GEOS. [in Russian]


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