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Titanis Article



The June issue of Discover Magazine has an article (its cover story as it 
happens) on a genus of birds, Titanis, which are clearly related to Diatryma 
(although they manage never to mention this genus by name, preferring to call 
the whole taxon ÒTerror BirdsÓ).  The paleontologist working on this is Robert 
Chandler of the Florida Museum of Natural History.  The revisionist thesis 
argued by Dr. Chandler is that this taxon was not wiped out by competition from 
placental carnivores, but as fossils from Florida and Texas clearly show, they 
actually moved into North America where they indisputably flourished in certain 
ecosystems until at least 2 mya.  Furthermore, the supposed vestigial wings of 
this taxon could not even be folded back like those of birds, but hang down as 
arms terminating in long claws.  They were essentially Mesozoic-style dinosaurs 
living in the Tertiary (only they did not have teeth or long tales).  

Fiction writers will have some interesting material here: in Texas Jon Baskin of
Texas A & M is very confident that the Titanis toe in his possession dates from 
a mere 15,000 years ago.  It makes it fairly likely that these 6 foot tall 
bird-dinos were finished off by Paleo-Indians, and that a Jurassic Park 
confrontation was an actual episode in our history.  

Richard Dieterle