Sunday, October 29, 2006

 

'Terror Birds': Argentine fossil points to largest bird ever found

26th October, 2006: From the Chicago Tribune (may require free registration), Illinois: "A curious teenager in Argentina has discovered the fossil skull of the biggest bird ever found - a swift, flightless predator 10 feet tall that pursued its prey across the steppes of Patagonia 15 million years ago, researchers at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County announced Wednesday.

The skull, tapering to a cruel beak curved like a brush hook, belongs to a previously unknown offshoot of extinct birds known as phorusrhacids - 'terror birds.'

Weighing perhaps 400 pounds, the bird most likely preyed on rodents the size of sheep that once grazed on the South American savanna.

Continued at "Argentine fossil points to largest bird ever found"
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See the following 'Brief Communication' from the journal Nature:

Palaeontology: Skull morphology of giant terror birds
Luis M. Chiappe, Sara Bertelli
Nature 443, 929 - 929 (26 Oct 2006) Brief Communications

Opening Paragraph: "The phorusrhacids ('terror birds') are an extinct lineage that includes the largest birds known. Reconstructions of these Cenozoic carnivores have consistently highlighted a very high beak, round orbits and vaulted braincase, although minimal information is actually available for the skull of the largest species. An important new fossil of a gigantic avian skull has been discovered from the middle Miocene of Patagonia (Comallo, Argentina), which reveals significant differences between the skulls of large and small phorusrhacids. We conclude that reconstructions of the skull of gigantic phorusrhacids on the basis of their smaller relatives are unwarranted, and that the long-established correlation between their corpulence and reduced cursorial agility needs to be re-evaluated."

[Paleontology, Phorusrhacid]

Paleontologist Luis Chiappe (homepage) identified the skull and is interviewed in this 3 minute audio clip from NPR

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Comments:
I happen to post a similar blog yesterday http://monarchbfly.com. Isn't this amazing they found such a fossil in Argentina! BTW: I really love your blog and happen to come across your site via your bird tag!! I plan on visiting here often!
 
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