Father of the shoe

Shoebills (Balaeniceps rex) are exceptionally unsocial birds. Males and females stay together only to rear their young. Because of the shape of its bill the rare African bird was called "abu markub" (“father of the shoe”) by Arab explorers hundreds of years ago. Its wide, deep upper beak with a sharp edge and nail-like tip is suited perfectly to seizing and dissecting its slippery prey like large fish, frogs and snakes. On display in Hall XXX.

(© NHM Wien, Lammerhuber)