New student-eating bird discovered at SFU

According to the researchers who discovered it, it hatched out of the beloved avocado

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ILLUSTRATION: Tiffany Chan

By: Jennifer Low, Avian Correspondent

Ever wonder why SFU’s architecture is filled with dark tunnels and hallways? Or what the heck the avocado/egg in the AQ really is? Well, world-renowned researcher and scientist, the one and only Joe King, reveals that his team’s shocking discovery of a new addition to SFU’s fauna may be the answer.

Dr. Joe King and his team have found evidence of a new species of bird that has apparently inhabited Burnaby Mountain and SFU’s campus since the first few weeks of the school’s construction. Based on substantial DNA tests, it is revealed to have hatched from what SFU students have always assumed was merely an egg-shaped statue.

According to King, the newly identified animal is found only on Burnaby Mountain due to the ideal elevation level. The organism has left scientists puzzled for years, owing to its elusive behaviour and flight patterns. Not one to fork over hard-earned cash for outrageously priced food, the animal subsists off the koi fish found in the AQ’s reflection pond and first-years who do not know the hallways well enough to remain indoors to get to class.

The animal’s dietary habits have landed the new species with the name: studiosum comedenti or “student eater.” According to University of Lou Decruss geneticist Bill Lowney, who has been studying birds of prey for over a decade, the creature is a member of the vulture family. “The students are basically dead inside, so that makes this thing a vulture, doesn’t it?” he states.

When asked if SFU will still remain open in light of this discovery, the team and government officials assure the public that the creature, though dangerous, will not impact the operation of the university.

“SFU was built to be a mountain fortress,” says Howard I. Noh, an SFU representative.  “There’s no use hiding that fact any more . . . the architects  were warned that there could be something . . . something lurking on the mountain and thus the building came to be what it is. It was always assumed [that] there was something on the mountain, but with no hard evidence, there was no reason to why a school shouldn’t be up there. Even now that they have identified the studiosum comedenti, the school will remain open . . . so what if a first-year gets carried off every now and again? We get hundreds of applications daily!”

Despite asserting that professors are doing all they can to keep students safe by giving them essays, assignments, exams, and long lectures to keep them indoors as long as possible, Noh recommends that students refrain from wearing brightly coloured clothing and opt for the more generic dark grey hoodies that can be purchased from the SFU Bookstore to stay safe.

Dr. Candice B. Fureal, an educator at SFU, recalls giving a three-hour lecture and requiring her students to attend tutorials and complete online assignments just to ensure their safety. “I do what I can!” she states in an emotional interview. “I would give them more work if I could!  

Fureal is not the only one looking out for students’ well-being; professor Mark Hardy spends extra time to make sure his tests are as difficult as possible to ensure his students spend more time safely in the library than in the dangerous outdoors.

“I have this theory,” says Hardy, “that the Bird is more likely go after students with higher GPAs because if you’re going to eat a student, why wouldn’t you go after the best and brightest? I know that theory hasn’t been tested yet, but I like to lower my students’ GPAs just because I care!”

The animal is described as being one of the largest flying birds in existence. It is an effective hunter with a sharp, pointed beak and talons, and the ability to camouflage itself amongst its surroundings in order to sneak up on prey. The studiosum comedenti possesses a well-developed sense of smell that enables them to seek out fresh blood. They are capable of very fast flight for several hours at a time and seldom hang out on the ground. The bird is an expert mimic and is discovered to be particularly good at mimicking the sound of the university’s fire alarm, much to the annoyance of students living in residence. Busting yet another mystery of SFU’s Burnaby campus, the vibrations given off from the bird’s flapping wings is credited with disrupting cell and Wi-Fi service in all areas of the campus.

“The wings move tremendously fast,” King explains, “Faster than even that of a hummingbird . . . and with its immense size, the vibrations can cause some serious disruption to digital signals.”

After years of research and blind hope, King is happy to finally have undeniable proof of the creature’s existence.

“I was really struggling,” King confesses. “For years people said I was crazy, but I knew there had to be a reason for the lack of fish in the koi pond, the strange, unknown piece of public art, and why the university looks like a government facility! I just knew it!”

Studies of the bird’s genetic makeup suggests that the studiosum comedenti egg may have been laid several hundred years ago. Due to the cement-like fossilization of the egg, scientists have concluded that the creature may have taken years to hatch, which may be why its detection has taken so long. Despite the fact that these groundbreaking discoveries have offered some answers, what we know about the studiosum comedenti is still limited. King and his team are excited to take on the challenge.