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Re: New Zealand's Giant Eagle Showed Rapid Size Gain ???

At 06:04 PM 1/9/2005, DinoBoyGraphics@aol.com wrote:
What is the fossil record like for the Australian mini-eagle? Not to play devils advocate, but couldn't the australian eagle have been undergoing a size squeeze the last few million years?

I would consider this somewhat unlikely as the Little Eagle (Hieraeetus morphnoides) is within the range of the other species in the genus Hieraeetus. From Ferguson-Lees and Christie, Raptors of the World (range includes both sexes):

Bonelli's Eagle H. fasciatus: 1.56-2.5 kg
African Hawk Eagle H. spilogaster: 1.15-1.75 kg
Wahlberg's Eagle H. wahlbergi: .437-1.4 kg
Booted Eagle H. pennatus: .840-1.25 kg
Little Eagle H. morphnoides: .440-1.25 kg
Ayres' Hawk Eagle H. ayresii: .685-1.05 kg

The authors, in fact, consider that the Little Eagle and the Booted Eagle form a superspecies. Whether true or not, the Australian birds do not seem to represent a significant divergence (which suggests in turn that Harpagornis, if it is indeed closer to the Little Eagle than to other Hieraeetus spp (do the authors suggest this?) must have evolved giantism very rapidly.

Ronald I. Orenstein Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2 mailto:ron.orenstein@rogers.com