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Re: What would Hitchcock have thought...?
Ok, good point. But if not teratorns, which other Ice Age birds of prey
would be capable of picking up a small child (either in talons or beak)?
Or should we reject the new interpretation of the evidence in South
Africa, reported in Am J of Phys Anthropology, that large birds
apparentlypreyed on human ancestors?>
I accept the recent evidence from South America. I just don't think it's
very surprising, or that it confirms the historical truth of the myths you
mention. There is all kinds of evidence of large raptors preying on
primates, including video of a Harpy Eagles (with a modest 7 foot wingspan)
snatching an adult three-toed sloth out of tree and flying away with it.
It's not surprising to see evidence that this also happened in the distant
past to juvenile hominids. In the Pleistocene, the New Zealand eagle,
Harpogornis, would likely have been able to snatch a snatch up a human
toddler with little problem. I'm skeptical about the North America origins
of these myths, however, because nothing analogous to Harpagornis (that I'm
aware of anyway) is known from the late Pleistocene of North America.
Perhaps there was such a North American bird that just hasn't been found.
Perhaps the myth goes further back in human history than the Pleistocene of
North America. Perhaps the myth is born of a fear in which the observed prey
capture techniques of eagles was conflated with a parental concern for the
safety of children who did live in the shadow of the huge teratorns.