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Re: BIG BIRD STUFF



 I understand that the odd dromornithids from Down
>Under (e.g. _Dromornis_) were particularly massive too. I didn't have lit on
>them to hand however... over to you, Aussies.

>DARREN NAISH
>

For a nice semipopular writeup on the mihirungs (Dromornis and kin) see
"Kadimakara: Extinct Vertebrates of Australia" by Rich et al (2nd ed 1990).
The largest, Dromornis stirtoni, may well have outweighed the largest
elephantbirds.  The book notes (p. 193): "During their 15 million years of
known existence the main evolutionary trends of mihirungs were to reduce the
size of the internal toe, increase the size of the outside toe and increase
the side to side compression of the proximal end of the tibiotarsus,
probably all correlated with increased cursoriality.... Mihirungs appear to
have been birds with varied habits, from cursorial to graviportal styles of
movement; they lacked highly recurved claws on the foot, typical of
carnivores...."

The relationships of these birds to others are unclear, but they are not
related to emus and I believe are not even ratites.
--
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886 (home)
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