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Re: Giant birds
> >_Phorusrhacus_. Formerly known as _Phororhacus_ (If I had my way, it
> >would be. The latter is etymologically better as well as easier to say.)
> >can't seem to figure out what it means. My Greek dictionary gives me
> >translations like "ragged tribute".
> I think the name _Phorusrhacus_ means "branch-bearing" or "branch-holding"
> (Gk. *phorein/phoros* = to bear or carry [as in Phosphorus -
> "light-bringer"] + *rhakhos/rhakos* = branch or spine). According to the
> version I was told, Ameghino originally thought the jaw came from a
> prehistoric sloth rather than a large bird.
Indeed he originally thought it was a herbivorous edentate, and "twig
holder" or something like that fits this. Then, when he convinced himself it
was a carnivorous bird, he changed the name to the similar, but
better-fitting _Phororhacos_ (I have forgotten what it means... AFAIK it is
somewhere on the web, I might find it), which he was by ICZN not allowed to
do, but _Phororhacos_ was used for decades.
Most phorusracids apparently died off before the Great American Interchange,
and there recently was a short paper in JVP that described remains from a
Plio-/Pleistocene phorusracid from IIRC Uruguay. The carnivorous marsupials
were already extinct by then.
The closest living relatives of phorusracids are the 2 species of seriema
(_Cariama cristata_ and another one), rapacious birds that can fly but
prefer to run.