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Phorusrhacid "terror birds" from Eocene of Europe

From: Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Delphine Angst, Eric Buffetaut, Christophe Lécuyer & Romain Amiot (2013)
“Terror Birds” (Phorusrhacidae) from the Eocene of Europe Imply
Trans-Tethys Dispersal.
PLoS ONE 8(11): e80357.


Phorusrhacidae was a clade including middle-sized to giant terrestrial
carnivorous birds, known mainly from the Cenozoic of South America,
but also occurring in the Plio-Pleistocene of North America and the
Eocene of Africa. Previous reports of small phorusrhacids in the
Paleogene of Europe have been dismissed as based on non-phorusrhacid


We have re-examined specimens of large terrestrial birds from the
Eocene (late Lutetian) of France and Switzerland previously referred
to gastornithids and ratites and have identified them as belonging to
a phorusrhacid for which the name Eleutherornis cotei should be used.


The occurrence of a phorusrhacid in the late Lutetian of Europe
indicates that these flightless birds had a wider geographical
distribution than previously recognized. The likeliest interpretation
is that they dispersed from Africa, where the group is known in the
Eocene, which implies crossing the Tethys Sea. The Early Tertiary
distribution of phorusrhacids can be best explained by transoceanic
dispersal, across both the South Atlantic and the Tethys.