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Regarding Diatryma and kin:
If you are tiring of getting chased by T. rex in your dreams, here is more
fierce faunal fodder to spice up your R.E.M. sleep:
Phorusrhacus [Phororhacos]: A gigantic nonflying predaceous bird from the
Tertiary of South America. The bird was quite gracile (like Velociraptor),
but stood a bit taller: 1.5 meters. The bird had a large hooked beak like
an eagle. The tibia/femur ratio was high, so the bird could have been a
very fast runner.
So, Phorusrhacus doesn't exactly give you night-sweats? Well then, check out
this bird. If you dream about being chased by it and you'll be reaching for the
Maalox in no time:
Diatryma: An even larger predatory? bird from the early Tertiary (Eocene,
mainly). The family was common in Asia, North America and Europe.
Height was more than 2.0 meters. This was a heavy (stocky) non-flying
bird. It's skull was massive and relatively reinforced (for a bird,
that's saying a lot). The beak was not as hooked, but was very large and
massive. Some have speculated that it was actually vegatarian, and used
it's powerful jaws to crack nuts and tough vegetation. Most still believe
it was carnivorous, at least partially so. The tibia/femur ratio on Diatryma
is less than Phorusrhacus, and it's metatarsals are relatively shorter, too,
so Diatryma may not have been quite as fast, but it would still have been an
excellent runner by ostrich standards.....woops, Matthew and Granger
(1917) have the metatarsals dashed in on their illustration. So metatarsal
length was unknown at the time of the drawing.
The Burke Museum in Seattle has a slab of rock collected in the area west of
Seattle by a local fisherman. The guy donated the slab to the museum, and
claimed it contained a huge track. Some have speculated that it is a
Diatryma track, but the museum staff is dubious. I don't blame them. It
looks like the sandstone has spalled off in places, and that it only
resembles a track. For the time being, the Burke is keeping it. I saw the
thing in the Burke basement, and I think it is just a 30 lb. paper-weight.