Excerpt from the book Animals Evolution Avoided. This book describes 40 animals that ought to exist but don’t, because I made them up.


The Japanese Tortoise Pigeon lives to a very old age and almost certainly has the longest lifespan of any bird. The pigeon was given the name because it flies very slowly, flapping its wings just often enough to keep it from crashing into the earth. The bird is not lazy, but lugubrious, usually arriving to find that the bread, scattered by tourists on Tokyo’s streets, has already been eaten by the other pigeons. Often, the pigeon will look around hoping to eat a crumb of comfort and other tourists will take pity on the poor bird and hand feed it. The Tortoise Pigeon will not fly away from the humans, but try and walk away to contemplate its existence while eating its food.

Tortoise Pigeons don’t take fright easily and are usually the last ones to take off if a predator is spotted. These pigeons make excellent companions for older people and are less noisy than parrots and cockatoos. Tortoise Pigeons have a homing instinct, but take longer to return due to their slow flying, and quite often owners believe their pet pigeon has gone forever. The truth is that the pigeon is intending to come home, but hasn’t quite made it yet and is taking a breather before continuing the homeward journey.

Tortoise Pigeons tend to perch in the lowest branches of the smallest trees as they can’t generate enough power in their wings to fly very high. They’re usually found in towns where there aren’t many high buildings. Indeed, their ideal environment would be to live in a garden full of bonsai trees where each pigeon could perch in its own tree, just a few feet above the ground.