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New Phorusrhacid specimen - latest Nature
Luis M. Chiappe, L.M. and Bertelli, S. (2006) Palaeontology: Skull
morphology of giant terror birds. Nature 443: 929.
"These monstrous birds were probably more agile and less portly than
"The phorusrhacids ('terror birds') are an extinct lineage that includes the
largest birds known1, 2, 3. Reconstructions of these Cenozoic carnivores
have consistently highlighted a very high beak, round orbits and vaulted
braincase, although minimal information is actually available for the skull
of the largest species1, 2, 3, 4, 5. An important new fossil of a gigantic
avian skull has been discovered from the middle Miocene of Patagonia
(Comallo, Argentina), which reveals significant differences between the
skulls of large and small phorusrhacids. We conclude that reconstructions of
the skull of gigantic phorusrhacids on the basis of their smaller relatives
are unwarranted, and that the long-established correlation between their
corpulence and reduced cursorial agility needs to be re-evaluated.
"The enormous skull of specimen BAR 3877-11 is virtually complete. Its
length (tip of rostrum to sagittal nuchal crest) is about 716 mm, making it
the largest known avian skull...."
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